Thursday, February 17, 2011

True Beliebers: Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D

On the set of Lethal Weapon 5: The New Batch

Justin Bieber has become such a common, easy target for ridicule that I don't really have any desire to attack him. He's constantly the butt of jokes of varying degrees of mean-spiritedness about his age (he's an infant), voice (he had a sex change), his rabid fans (they're... well, rabid fans), and so on. It's not that they can't be funny, it's just that it's something that doesn't take a lot of effort or originality. For my part, I'll say that he seems benign enough and that he's put out a few very solid, enjoyable pop songs.

So it's with a little snark- though, and this is important, not merely snark- that I say that the first analogue to Bieber documentary Never Say Never that came to mind was, yes, Triumph of the Will. To be clear, Bieber is no Hitler, and director Jon Chu is no Leni Riefenstahl (for one, Riefenstahl didn't make Step Up 2 The Streets), but damn me if the feeling isn't the same. This is not simply a nearly two hour commercial for Bieber and his brand- this is exuberant spectacle in the service of out and out propaganda. It's fun (and easy) enough to compare the legions at Nuremberg heiling their Führer with crane shots of a sold out Madison Square Garden flying over thousands of pairs of hands making the same heart gesture that's one of Bieber's trademarks. Less obvious- and more troubling- is to realize how alike are shots of Hitler greeting admirers and kissing babies to the similarly well edited, obviously staged shots of Bieber as "just an ordinary kid," walking the streets of his hometown Stratford, Ontario eating pizza and offering banal platitudes like "Don't give up on your dreams" to the shell shocked fans he comes across (and, in one of the queasiest moments in a film full of queasy moments, dropping some pocket change into the violin case of a girl playing on the same street corner where he once performed). Both films, essentially, are well-staged, well executed documents of rallies, and both camouflage an insidious agenda with layers upon layers of feel-good spectacle.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I, Schlub: Louis CK's Hilarious & Todd Glass' Thin Pig

The nearly hour and a half of all-new material in Louis CK's Hilarious feels divided into three distinct parts. The first is made up of finely honed, self-effacing bits about CK's single life after his recent divorce mixed together- for no discernible reason- with some of his blandest, laziest work in his career. The second, more socially motivated segment features the track "Cell Phones and Flying" that many will recognize as the material CK recited on Late Night with Conan O'Brien that eventually went viral as "Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy." The third segment could possibly be the best thirty or so minutes of CK's career, and some of the best comedy I've heard in years. It's not a surprise that this material revolves around the raising of his two children- Louie's terrifically, vulgarly honest take on child raising has consistently been the most memorable part of his last few specials, and here it's breathtaking just how powerful CK is when he's spitting bile at stupid, careless parents (including, of course, himself) and how deftly he talks about his children with equal parts tenderness and utter resignation.

The Great Gatsby, for NES

Oh, hi. Are you reading this? You shouldn't be (at least not right now). Instead, you should be playing The Great Gatsby, for NES, brought to you by my buddies Charlie Hoey and Peter Smith.

I have your best interests at heart.


Monday, January 24, 2011

I love Patti Smith

A few moments of the sublime in this song. Not all of it's gold, but those instances are there, and they sneak up on you and fizzle like Pop Rocks.

The remainder is still Patti Smith: raw, reaching for something. That's wonderful too.

Just a quick post from my desk at work. I should be editing a manuscript, but this song came on shuffle and I felt the need to jot down the semi-coherent couple of thoughts I had about it. Hey there Middleclass Haunt, it's been a while.

--Julia Rose

P.S. I should add that there's some good stuff on my radar at the moment, like these guys: Ancient Astronauts, and the forthcoming album from Parts & Labor.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Clash: Manhattan Calling! (Live Bootleg, 1979)

"...there's a line in this next number, which is entitled 'All that phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust!'"

And then the guitars slam in, and in a fraction of a second sound waves become corroded red cables connected to your blood pumping chest. Recorded in the crosshairs of their live and creative peak in September, 1979, this live bootleg is most likely the most explosive recording I have in my music library. I originally shelled out $12 for this bootleg at a record stand, but I'm giving it away free here because I share the wealth like a communist.  

This is the product of a radio broadcast, and the professional mixing is stellar, letting all instruments shine when they should (most especially the ultraviolent guitars) while still holding on the grit and edge of the raw encounter of actually being in attendance at a Clash show. In a word, this bootleg is everything The Clash were when they were the Greatest Band On Earth for a brief period of time. I reviewed the recently released (and slightly mediocre) Live At Shea Stadium for Lost At Sea Magazine a few years back, and in that review I lamented that there must be a great 77-79 era show in the vaults somewhere that is a true testament to the band's powers. 

"Manhattan Calling!" is it.


1. Safe European Home
2. I'm So Bored With the U.S.A.
3. Complete Control
4. London Calling
5. White Man in Hammersmith Palais
6. Koka Kola
7. I Fought the Law
8. Jail Guitar Doors
9. Guns of Brixton
10. English Civil War
11. Clash City Rockers
12. Stay Free
13. Clampdown
14. Police + Thieves
15. Capitol Radio
16. Tommy Gun
17. Wrong 'Em Boyo
18. Janie Jones
19. Garageland
20. Armagideon Time
21. Career Opportunities
22. What's My Name
23. White Riot

Source: FM Radio Broadcast
Date: 9/21/79

DOWNLOAD (MediaFire)

Hit the Deck! Please comment and spread the word!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Don't Wanna Grow Up: The Joys of WWE Rumblers

I've been struggling literally since the beginning of last summer to think of something worthwhile to write in this space which Dave has so graciously provided. It wasn't until I saw that Dave's post about his vinyl acquisitions had the tag of "irresponsible spending" that I was really inspired. Irresponsible spending's become my thing. I was at Wal Mart on Friday. The reason I was there was to buy Snooki's book A Shore Thing. I was doing this because I thought it would be hilarious to A) buy and B) read the book. Snooki's book, though, wasn't what I left The Wal (that's what I call it, cuz I'm cool and/or Dane Cook) clenching my grown-man-hands in delight about. No, I had made the mistake of walking through the WWE section of the toys department, only to discover...

Time Capsule Transmissions From 8 Year Old Me

My father and I found this in the basement yesterday, dated from January, 1996:

The Weirdo Balloon

By David Toropov
A David Toropov Production

When a balloon gets caught in a tree, it gets very unstinkable. But this tree was stinkable, so the balloon got stinkalble, so everybody got up on this balloon and said PEE YEW I’m getting out of here!

“Get out of here, stinky balloon!”

And then it got very weird. So that’s when they called it the stinky weirdo balloon.

Maybe you’ll say, “Don’t write that! THAT’S WEIRD!”

Well, I told you that it was weird. If you didn’t want a weird story, you shouldn’t have started reading the book!

The End

We also found this:
If you look at this for too long, your brain will explode.