Monday, March 31, 2008

Exile in Guyville getting the deluxe treatment

It looks like Liz Phair's seminal Exile in Guyville album is getting the deluxe treatment. Here's the link to the Pitchfork article about the rereleased album, which is supposed to hit the streets

The rerelease will feature interviews by Ira Glass, John Cusak and Steve Albani. The album will also feature some unreleased tracks. Right now, I'll take any Liz Phair rerelease (up to Whitechocolatespaceegg) than any new album of her more suburban-friendly "mom rock."

Each time I see these rereleases, I think how much of a sucker I am for these in-depth, filled-to-the-gills "deluxe editions." I bought the double-CD rerelease of Pulp's This is Hardcore, His and Hers and Different Class. I restrained myself from buying Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation and DJ Shadow's Endtroducing. But I will likely cave for Exile in Guyville. It is the inspiration for this site. It's still has my vote for "best album of the '90s" and it's mercifully hasn't aged much since its release. Plus, my CD copy is scratched to hell. A new purchase of it was long overdue.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Henry Rollins - Provoked

I'm groggy as hell today - I got back to Omaha around 1:30 a.m. after seeing Henry Rollins at the Rococo. He was touring for his "Provoked" stand-up tour. I've seen Rollins live with the Rollins Band as well as his spoken word. Both are well worth seeing, but I tend to like his spoken word stuff more than his hard rock stuff.

One thought about stand up before I get into my review. I saw Bobcat Goldwait at the Funny Bone a few weeks ago. He was on stage for about 90 minutes. That's typically what I expect for stand up. Chris Rock's best specials have run 90 minutes. George Carlin's so-so latest HBO special ran over an hour. You're talking - no band is supporting you - so it seems that 90 minutes is just the right length.

Henry Rollins was about 20 minutes short from hitting the three hour mark. Yup - take your favorite stand up performance you've seen - be it a Richard Pryor, Robin Williams (please say vintage) or Chris Rock routine - and double it. And Rollins pretty much had me riveted for most of the set (despite the fact that my ass was killing toward the end of the show).

So, what does one talk about for three hours? If you're Rollins, you talk about politics, his life touring and a very extended, but still engaging, story about his anxiety about having to be the lead vocalist for the Ruts for a benefit show. Three hours and not a single mention about male/female relationships or a "didya ever notice..." type of setup. That has to be a record.

Some of his stuff was a tad dated. I could have done without his referring to the Internet as "the Internets" for the 30th time in the show. Rollins playfully used that term because he insisted on using the same language the President uses when it comes to the Web. He kept his Bush bashing to a minimum, mainly because, to paraphrase Rollins, making fun of George W. Bush is sort of like punching an 8-year-old.

Some highlights...
- Retelling a deadbeat dad story in which one kid used the condom his friend was using (when he was 'finished') on his girlfriend because he forgot his condom.
- Rollins pouring over his anxiety of being the lead vocalist of the Ruts, a band he idolized as a kid. Few artists nail male anxiety like Rollins. The YouTube video was the performance he was talking about.
- Rollins on guilty pleasure listening. His story about breaking his Steve Miller Band and Boston records after he discovered punk, only to later buy them later on in life struck a bit too close to home (substitute U2's Rattle and Hum for Boston's self-titled).

The negatives -
Well, it was three hours. I don't care who you are, three hours on stage, you're going to get repetitive. He could have easily trimmed a half hour from the show and it still would have been great. But then he wouldn't be Henry Rollins. His tangents may be long, rambling and sometimes unnecessary, but they are almost always worth following.

I have one day to recover before Bruce Springsteen - another artist who's notorious about going on for hours at a time. And like Rollins, it'll be worth the sore butt and leg numbness.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Goodbye, Brett

The news is out. Brett Favre is retiring from the game. I won't even bother you to send a link to any news sites because it's all over the Internet. However, if you want to get a good analysis of Favre, check out ESPN's Page 2 - I'm sure they'll eventually have something.
Coming from a die hard Packer fan, I have to say this is a sad day. But he went out as close to the top of his game as anyone could have imagined. Ok, a Super Bowl ring was imaginable, but still, during his last few games, I was on the edge of my couch, hoping Favre wouldn't have a career-capping game like Dan Marino - face down after one too many sacks and a 62-7 drubbing on the scoreboard.
Favre's gameplaying was maddeningly inconsistent. For half of last year's comeback, I opted not to watch any Packer games because whenever I watched, they were losing. Favre was throwing interceptions and making bad decisions on the field. But when he was The game he played after his father died will go down in football lore.
Watching Favre play wasn't like watching Manning or Brady play. No matter how flawless his performance was, you always had the uneasy feeling in the back of your mind ... "don't throw an interception...don't throw an interception." It was sort of like watching the Red Sox win their first championship in 2004 - when even with a commanding lead in the World Series, you kept thinking "they're going to implode...this is where it starts - with a stupid error that results in a base run" - even up to the ninth inning.
I'll miss his interviews on Jim Rome (although he'll no doubt return, just not as a current quarterback), I'll miss his elated fist-pumping on the field and I'll miss the presence of one of the few players left in the NFL who truely seems like he would be doing this for free because he loves the game so much.
Thanks, Brett -

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Way Down in the Hole

I watched the second to the last episode of The Wire last night and I couldn't help but feel a bit bummed after watching it. Not bummed in that it was depressing, bummed as in watching Sleater-Kinney perform in one of their last shows before they disbanded.

It's so rare that there comes a show that's as fiercely intelligent, poignant and well-written and acted as The Wire. It's even more rare that a show goes out at the top of its game. Critics may say season 4 was The Wire's best season, but as a journalist, I have a soft spot for this season. And even if this isn't The Wire's best season, it's certainly the best series on television right now.

Whether you're a cop, student, politician, dock worker, teacher or copy editor, David Simon blurred the lines of good and bad in The Wire. Instead of the "good guys vs. bad guys" setup, Simon went for a "system vs. individual" approach. And no matter the person in that show, the system wound up chewing up and spitting out its victims.

**Much Delayed Spoiler Alert**
One character that exemplified The Wire was Omar Little, played flawlessly and courageously by Micahel Kenneth Williams. A fearless stickup man, Little robbed from drug dealers, adhered to a strict moral code and even took his grandmother to church once a month. However, his brutal actions resulted in the deaths of his mentor, his friends and his lover. He was gay, was not ashamed of his sexuality, but it did not define his character. In the most dangerous areas of Baltimore, Omar brazenly walked through the streets in his pajamas, carrying a shotgun - and people scattered.

On many planes, Omar's character was the direct opposite of Marlo Stanfield, also played to perfection by Jamie Hector. Marlo is as calculating and cautious as he is ruthless and unfeeling. It seemed to be a perfect "High Noon" - style showdown between Omar and Marlo (The Wire did a sort of "High Noon" style showdown between Omar and Brother Mouzone). It would have been an appropriate end to one of these characters, and even with its contrived showdown setting, I'm sure Simon could have done the scene justice with few grumbles from fans.

But like most of The Wire, there are few things that would lead up to such a definitive resolution. So in pure Simon fashion, Omar was unceremoniously shown the exit for the show by a head shot courtesy of a kid who isn't even a teenager. With this exit, Simon shows how the random violence of the streets affects even the most "untouchable" characters of the series.

Another exit was in yesterday's (March 2) episode. Snoop was dispatched in similar fashion (but she at least was able to face her killer). Snoop's character, played by Felician Pearson, seemed to be a typical "thug" character at first glance. It actually took two episodes before I found out that Snoop was female. It took almost an entire season to decipher what she was saying. But her swagger and her gallows humor won me over. And now, it's a bummer to see that she won't be part of the finale.

I'm looking forward to Sunday's finale. Mercifully, it's not on HBO On Demand, because I'm pretty sure I and every other Wire fan out there would be spending Monday night watching now it ends.

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