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.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Notes and Mayhem (1/8/11)

Oh my god my room needs some attention. There are clothes everywhere. This is not like me. I am so much more clean than this. THE TIME HAS COME TO SPEAK OF MANY THINGS. If you could see this room, you would say something drastically foul.

For all those concerned/excited about Alex and I's impending living situation, the three finalists are Chicago, Minneapolis, and Portland. There's a lot of love for Boston between us, and it'll always be with me, but there's a time in a man's life when he needs to kick some doors open, yaknowwhaimsayyyinnn.

Julia and I are rendezvousing in Boston today to speak of top secret Middleclass Haunt secrets. YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT THEY ARE.

On the music tip, here's some Byrds and Raiders for you a la yesterday's post:

Two classics.

After spinning monstrous amounts of my new vinyl last night, I've come to the conclusion that this record:

is absolutely phenomenal. 

Here's a little nugget of Garage Punk Hideout trashiness as well. I just found this blog/forum a few days ago, focused entirely on Surf/Garage/Punk, which is pretty much everything I'm into now, and they've got stellar podcasts:

KICKS FROM THE BOOT #17 - The Garage Punk Hideout

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year Vinyl Haul

My car gets rescued from the Auto Shop today, looking so fly and handsome, and I've got to celebrate. Cause I'm feeling good. So I took a little trek down to Record Exchange in Salem, my favorite record shop since before I noticed girls were attractive, and I was looking to spend about 20 bucks. Whhoops. Don't let me loose in an independent record shop without a leash. I'm gonna hand over the title to my house or something someday in exchange for an original sealed copy of the first Herman's Hermit's record, I know it. It'll be embarrassing.

First up:

"The Best of the Animals" on MGM Records, looks like an old school original pressing. I was just down in Brooklyn hanging with Villanueva and listened to this record before he woke upon my headphones on his roommate's turntable and this record kicks utter ass. Best part about this is that the guy at the store threw this in for free since it's not in perfect shape and I was throwing down around $50. 

For funk-hotness:
"Anthology" - Sly and the Family Stone, 1981 Epic/CBS Double Vinyl, Promo copy. I looked at the tracklisting for this and couldn't resist. It's got pretty much everything funky Sly did from 67 up til a little after "There's A Riot Goin' On", no bullshit, no suckage. Kinda pricey at 13 bucks, but for 20 tracks and such pristine condition, it's totally worth it.

What's that psychadelic jangle I hear?:
"The Byrds Greatest Hits", 1967? Columbia Records. A classic. It doesn't have "Lady Friend" on it, aka "Probably one of top 5 most underrated, underheard best pop songs ever", but besides that the tracklisting is pretty impeccable. I had the opening to "Mr. Tambourine Man" as my ringtone for a while. All in all, for $2? You gotta do it, son. And I did.

"The Kink Kronikles", 1972 Reprise Records. 2 Records. 2 Much music. Man, I stacked up on a lot of "Best of" records, I didn't really notice when I was up there (just wait until you guys see the jewel of this vinyl raid though). Okay, so here we've got Kinks awesomeness starting in '66(? maybe?) and ending in '72. So no "You Really Got Me" era stuff, but there's "Waterloo Sunset" (OMG BEST SONG EVARRR), "Lola", "Sunny Afternoon", "Dead End Street", a bunch of great stuff. 10 bucks, and The Kinks have an awesome gap toothed frontman, so how can you not financially support that? It's got a cool British legion-y soldier/actor/Buckingham Palace dude on the front riding a horse, and that's gotta be worth at least $3 alone.

Maybe don't get on that plane, guys?:
"20 Golden Greats by Buddy Holly & The Crickets", 1978 MCA Records. The photobooth craziness continues, and can only be matched by the craziness of Paul thumbing off this record for free for me too. Awesome cover.

Finally, we get into the Garage:
"Midnight Ride with Paul Revere & The Raiders", Limited Edition Columbia Re-Release. This is an awesome addition to my garage record collection. "Kicks" is a classic, I'll have to upload that video soon too. Pure '60s pre-punky spunkiness. You gotta check out the tasteless colonial America costumes these guys would wear:

Maybe those pants are a little too tight for my imagination? A whole lot of man is up there in that picture.


DEAR LORD, IS THAT A THIRD MAN RECORDS 2010 REISSUE OF "WHITE BLOOD CELLS"?!!! Yes, it is. Only 500 of these were made, and they're going for hundreds of dollars on eBay. The record store was selling it for only 22 dollars, and it was the financially responsible thing for me to do to buy it as quickly as possible and not pee my pants.

So what did we learn today? Besides the fact that I shouldn't be doing this because I've got no more in my big plastic tub for new records and I did it any way because this place is a crack den for me? First, it sucks to go to Bruins games and watch them lose, even though going with awesome people makes it way better. Also, the documentary on "A Nightmare on Elm Street" I got from Netflix was an impressive way to spend 4(!) hours. Thank god they acknowledged all the subliminal (and awesome/hilarious) gay themes in Part 2. According to Robert Englund, they love that film in Europe. Wrong dude, they love that film right here in America. More specifically, anywhere in America I happen to be. Because I love that film.