Saturday, September 30, 2006

j dilla, r.i.p.

Dilla, the talented hip-hop producer, died at the age of 32 earlier this year. The Shining was the album he was working on near the end, and now it's out. It's no landmark record, but it's a fine swan song.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Crumb, Terry Zwigoff's great documentary about his friend Robert Crumb, will be playing at the Aero on Sunday, October 1 as part of a retrospective of the director's work. I pay homage here.

And for a great, in-depth interview with Zwigoff about the making of Crumb, I highly recommend this site, which includes these bits:
There was certainly times when I was following him around with a camera where he would get to the point where he was running out of patience for it. He would turn to me and say, “If you were not my best friend, I would be so out of here.”

Robert always thought [Crumb] would just be shown on my living room wall. And when it wasn’t and when it sort of caught on and started being released to theaters theatrically and getting all these favorable reviews in all the magazines and newspapers, it really had an alarming effect on his life where he would start to get recognized on the street and journalists were showing up on his doorstep to interview him. And his life as he knew it was changing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

studio 60 on the sunset strip

Aaron Sorkin's new NBC drama, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, is the sort of sophisticated, flashy character piece you'd expect from the West Wing auteur. That's a good and a bad thing.

Monday, September 18, 2006

how have we changed since 9/11? don't ask us.

John Powers has a fine essay in the LA Weekly about the incessant desire in the media and within both political parties to use the anniversary of 9/11 for their own purposes. The GOP gets whacked around, but so do newspapers and artists in general:

[I]t's worth remembering that, in the rush to pontificate about that awful September morning, five years is no time at all. Events may be fast, but meaning is slow.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


The Kurt Wagner-led Nashville alt-country band return with a new album, Damaged. I think it's one of their best.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

zach braff gets serious

The Last Kiss plays like a somber version of Zach Braff's Garden State, but despite this new film's ambitions to be significant and meaningful, it's loads less profound about twenty-somethings than Braff's quirky, heartfelt offering from two years ago.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

keep your 9/11 away from my 9/11

The anniversary of 9/11 always depresses me, but it goes beyond the memory of what happened five years ago. Nowadays, it's the way certain people -- and certain people in power -- try to use 9/11 for their own benefits, trying to bully the rest of us into thinking that they care more about what happened or that they are the only ones who haven't forgotten. That attitude makes me so angry I just wanted to hide in a ball on Monday, and I pretty much did.

Tuesday morning brought some happiness, though, thanks to Keith Olbermann. His 9/11 commentary speaks eloquently to the anger that many of us feel. The Bush administration keeps reminding us that we can't forget what happened five years ago. Olbermann suggests that not only haven't we forgotten, we've also remembered all the foolish decisions and cynical manipulation that have transpired since then:

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Monday, September 11, 2006

bob dylan

Modern Times isn't up to the level of Dylan's other recent albums. Sorry, it's true. Elsewhere in Consumables, I go nuts for Neko Case's latest record and have nice things to say about Ben Affleck's performance in Hollywoodland.

Friday, September 08, 2006

the album leaf

Jimmy LaValle, the electronica musician who is the Album Leaf, is an unassuming nice guy. I know because I interviewed him about two years ago. Well, he's back with a new record, Into the Blue Again. He makes good records -- I just wish he would resist the urge to sing.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

talking to patricia foulkrod

Patricia Foulkrod is the director of The Ground Truth, a new documentary about the horrors that befall our troops once they return home from combat. Anybody who has been following B.D.'s ordeal on Doonesbury since he lost part of a leg in Iraq knows that the mental scars can be as harrowing as the physical ones, and The Ground Truth brings these realities similarly to life without political grandstanding.

I spoke with Foulkrod recently for the LA Weekly:
"The biggest mythology in American culture about war is that if you sign up for the military, you'll be taken care of. And I think many soldiers believe that. Even as they're watching someone they know -- a brother or a father who was in Vietnam who came back messed up and never spoke about it and never got help -- they think that somehow they will be different."
The rest of the interview appears here.

jody rosen on robert christgau

Slate's Jody Rosen has a noteworthy appreciation on Robert Christgau's legacy. While I disagree with some of Rosen's nitpicks about the Dean's style, passages like this more than make up for it:

Christgau's craft is all about compression. He has published hundreds of terrific, expansive essays over the years, but his signature column is the Consumer Guide, a monthly compendium of capsule record reviews that he's been writing since 1969. To date, Christgau has produced more than 13,000 mini-reviews, a testament to his legendarily voracious listening habits. (On the few occasions I've seen Christgau in the flesh, he's either been wearing headphones or had them at the ready around his neck.) With Pauline Kael, Christgau is arguably one of the two most important American mass-culture critics of the second half of the 20th century -- yet he's devoted the majority of his working life to fashioning 100-word blurbs with letter grades. He's a public intellectual who unwittingly invented the reviews section of
Entertainment Weekly.

Friday, September 01, 2006

robert christgau and "breakfast with the beatles": say it ain't so

As we slide into Labor Day weekend, there are two sad stories on my radar. First, is that Robert Christgau has been let go from the Village Voice. The second is that this Sunday will be the final Breakfast with the Beatles radio show on L.A.'s 97.1 FM. Times change, the fates shift ... I'm not feeling much comfort in those platitudes. It reminds me of Mike Royko's comment: "I learned a long time ago that life isn't always fair. But it shouldn't cheat that much."

The most we can hope for is that both Christgau and Breakfast will find more supportive home bases soon. In the meantime, here's a great piece Christgau wrote right after the death of John Lennon. Seemed appropriate.