Wednesday, December 31, 2014

List of 2014 Part Three: Best Movies.

An updated list will be published in a few days.  The following count as the best 2014 releases I saw through today (in no specific order):
Disappointments From Major Directors: GONE GIRL, LUCY, THE ZERO THEOREM

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 List Part Two--Underwhelming Film/TV/Music of the year.

the first is a well-acted sorrow-and-pity wankfest with jazz drum score which overinflates an interesting idea about a movie star seeking credibility on the Broadway stage;  its success is apparently due to pandering to above-it-all audience members who moan about superhero product crowding out smarter films while refusing to seek out and champion the latter; terrific monologue about two-thirds of the way through from Lindsay Duncan playing a stereotypical I-will-destroy-you critic
re GRAND BUDAPEST: Wes Anderson doing a NATIONAL LAMPOON version of 30s-era Ernst Lubitsch films few people in the audience probably saw--but partially saved by brilliant seriocomic performance from Ralph Fiennes; a big step backwards from the excellence of MOONRISE KINGDOM
as for NIGHTCRAWLER: Dan Gilroy thinks he's doing a more profound exploration of the overobvious subject matter of violent, superficial local TV news than he actually is; Jake Gyllenhaal does his best with a two-dimensional cartoon Amoral Nowhere Man, while the real acting comes from Rene Russo, Bill Paxton and Riz Ahmed
HIGH HOPES--an album released by Bruce Springsteen apparently to fill a Sony/Columbia Records contractual obligation; better that Springsteen had just released his versions of the title track and "Dream Baby Dream" as what used to be known as a Double-A side single online
Terry Gilliam's mostly-seen-on-VOD THE ZERO THEOREM best serves its viewers by making them want to see BRAZIL again
Larry King discussing missing-plane coverage of his former employer CNN by referring to its use of the term "Breaking News" as synonym for "Breaking Supposition" and "Breaking Speculation."
INHERENT VICE--Paul Thomas Anderson's latest (adapted from Thomas Pynchon's novel) is better than most of what's out there in the marketplace, but a slight slide downhill after his twin masterpieces THERE WILL BE BLOOD and THE MASTER

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Highlights of 2014 Part One

FALLEN IDOL OF THE YEAR (three-way tie):

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

More Cobalt Cafe and CobaltPoets farewell messages.

Found these in my e-mail inbox:
Tuesday December 30, 2014
Cobalt Reading 20th Anniversary / Farewell Party
It's a potluck! Bring food and drink of any kind and plan on an evening of reminiscing, socializing, farewell and the mother of all group poems. Not so much a reading tonight but the mic will be open for the sharing of memories. We'll also be taking donations to send Cobalt owner Dave off with a little bit to help him move forward... so think generously, bring a nosh, and yourself as we end an era.

"Tell us what the Cobalt reading has meant to you.  Keep it brief."

I won't be attending the Cobalt farewell on the 30th since I believe it's meant for true friends of the host as well as those who stopped attending years ago but want to return.

Thanks to Dave and his former employees for keeping the Cobalt Cafe alive as a music venue which generously  chose to spare one night each week for poets of all types to read and/or just listen.

For exit music, I'm choosing the following:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Portion of satirical poem I wrote about censorship in 2004--originally centering on Janet Jackson at that year's Super Bowl--that's still relevant with regards to the canceled release of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's film THE INTERVIEW.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER article: North Korea probably not behind the Sony cyberhacking.

Inside the studio, though, sources say there is little evidence that North Korea is behind the attack. Cybersecurity expert Hemanshu Nigam also finds it hard to believe that North Korea is the perpetrator. Instead, he theorizes an employee or ex-employee with administrative access privileges is a more likely suspect. For the studio — which has laid off hundreds of employees over the past year in an effort to contain costs — the possibility of a disgruntled employee wreaking havoc is very real.
"If terabytes of data left the Sony networks, their network detection systems would have noticed easily," explains Nigam. "It would also take months for a hacker to figure out the topography of the Sony networks to know where critical assets are stored and to have access to the decryption keys needed to open up the screeners that have been leaked." In addition, he says, "Hackers don't use such things as Hushmail, Dropbox and Facebook when they want to engage in what amounts to criminal activity. Real hackers know that these sites collect access logs, IP addresses and work with law enforcement. It is possible that North Korean-sponsored hackers were working with someone on the inside. But it is more likely a ruse to shift blame, knowing the distaste the North Korean regime has for Sony Pictures."

Link to the article excerpted above: Sony Hack: Studio Security Points to Inside Job

Twitter reacts to THE INTERVIEW being pulled from theaters due to threat.

Is it possible that the whole mess was perpetrated by the on-line platforms to make sure people never leave their living rooms?--Ira Deutchman

I fully support the movement for The Interview. Screw the theaters cowering in fear and release your product to everyone. --Alex Billington

Theater chains will soon come out with statements about "patrons' safety." That will be a lie. They are afraid of being hacked themselves.--Josh Lincoln Dickey

., the same company whose CEO wants to introduce "texting safe" screenings? Blames Sony's "wavering support".--Moises Chiullan

The Interview, like Dr. Strangelove, sounds like a satire. Lives should not be threatened over a 90 minute comedy, regardless of the subject.--Jen Connors

Even if no one goes to see it, The Interview will end up being one of the most important films of the decade now. Funny how that happens.--David Neary

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bill Cosby and Sony don't want certain things written about them.

Again not linking to certain things already racing across the Information Superhighway, but I noticed two things earlier today:
1. Bill Cosby is still in rigid denial over his current reputation resembling a mansion of twigs with a tornado bearing down on it.  Well, maybe he's acknowledging the recent allegations of supermodel Beverly Johnson by what-seems-to-be subtly ordering African-American publications to avoid writing negative profiles of Bill Cosby.
2. Sony now wants the genie of public embarrassment returned to its bottle by ordering no more press coverage of e-mail leaks.
[Pausing a moment to again say that the leaking is obviously not North Korean--if North Korea had been sufficiently infuriated by THE INTERVIEW, it would probably have created a truly destructive cyberattack rather than something akin to Anonymous-or a disgruntled employee.]
On one level, I can empathize with people working there not wanting private/personal information such as home addresses and phone numbers to be revealed.
However, regarding the information that has been regarded InstantNews-worthy, it may be worth pausing to wonder how/why the Columbia/Tri-Star/Screen Gems content-producing outpost of the Sony empire employs Jamie Foxx (who won an Academy Award for playing Ray Charles in RAY) and only utilizes him as supporting player in the upcoming, modernized ANNIE--plus, earlier this year, a superhero antagonist in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2.
And, thanks to the e-mail leak: one gets a little insight into what movies multinational corporations choose to make, why they insist on making "tentpoles" and avoiding medium-budget projects that aren't comedies--and what kind of limitations are assigned by studio executives to non-Caucasian actors.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Are we learning anything new from Sony e-mail hacks re Hollywood?

I'm not linking to them here, but there have been plenty of lip-licking posts from various gossip and news sites about the private e-mails of Sony executives being recently hacked and revealed to the public.

Here's a few things I processed from what little I've read:
1. Studio execs still love to bad-mouth actors.
2. Women still aren't being paid as much as men.
3. It's more likely that disgruntled employees are behind this--not North Korea.
4. THE INTERVIEW had its climax toned down for the US version--and it will be removed for overseas viewing.
5. For an exec and a producer, it's not yet a post-racial society (regarding certain comments about President Obama and what movies/actors he may/may not like).

In conclusion, today's Hollywood isn't much different than, say, four decades ago.

[UPDATED 4/16/15: Wikileaks has re-released files; Sony has objected on privacy grounds.  At this point, the only thing I found worthy of public notice is current Sony exec Michael Lynton is on the board of famous think tank The Rand Corporation.]

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Best performances not getting Awards Season consideration.

In no specific order, here's a list of released-in-2014 film performances being ignored by SAG, Golden Globes, critics' organizations, etc. in the stampede towards consensus nominees.

1. Brendan Gleeson--CALVARY
2. Bill Hader/Kristen Wiig/Ty Burrell--THE SKELETON TWINS
4. Hilary Swank--THE HOMESMAN
5. Carrie Coon--GONE GIRL
7. Chadwick Boseman/Viola Davis/Octavia Spencer--GET ON UP
9. Jesse Eisenberg/Dakota Fanning/Peter Sarsgaard--NIGHT MOVES
10. Mackenzie Foy--INTERSTELLAR

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Glenn Greenwald on post-9/11 use of torture.

Opening paragraphs quoted from Glenn Greenwald in THE INTERCEPT:
One of the worst myths official Washington and its establishment media have told itself about the torture debate is that the controversy is limited to three cases of waterboarding at Guantánamo and a handful of bad Republican actors. In fact, a wide array of torture techniques were approved at the highest levels of the U.S. Government and then systematically employed in lawless US prisons around the world - at Bagram (including during the Obama presidency), CIA black sites, even to US citizens on US soil. So systematic was the torture regime that a 2008 Senate report concluded that the criminal abuses at Abu Ghraib were the direct result of the torture mentality imposed by official Washington.
American torture was not confined to a handful of aberrational cases or techniques, nor was it the work of rogue CIA agents. It was an officially sanctioned, worldwide regime of torture that had the acquiescence, if not explicit approval, of the top members of both political parties in Congress. It was motivated by far more than interrogation. The evidence for all of this is conclusive and overwhelming. And the American media bears much of the blame, as they refused for years even to use the word “torture” to describe any of this (even as they called these same techniques “torture” when used by American adversaries), a shameful and cowardly abdication that continues literally to this day in many of the most influential outlets.

Link to the entire article:

And remember: the proper word is "torture."

The popular mainstream media synonym of "harsh interrogation techniques" no longer applies.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Criterion DVD Wishlist.

1. CITIZENS BAND aka HANDLE WITH CARE and MELVIN AND HOWARD (director: Jonathan Demme)
2. THE LAST MOVIE (director: Dennis Hopper)
3. THE DEVILS (director: Ken Russell)
4. EAT THE DOCUMENT (director: D.A. Pennebaker)
5. ONE EYED JACKS (director: Marlon Brando)
6. BREAKER MORANT (director: Bruce Beresford)
7. BARBAROSA  (director: Fred Schepisi)
8. NEWSFRONT (director: Phillip Noyce)
9. THE LAST DAYS OF CHEZ NOUS (director: Gillian Armstrong)
10. ENEMIES: A LOVE STORY (director: Paul Mazursky)
11. SCHOOL DAZE and CROOKLYN (director: Spike Lee)
12. CANDY MOUNTAIN (directors Robert Frank and Rudolph Wurlitzer)
13. THE LATE SHOW (director: Robert Benton)
14. EAT THE PEACH (director: Peter Ormrod)


vinyl album covers stuck
to the back of one wall
back room for BANDS ONLY
sticker pasted inside men's room urinal
bygone days when security guards
and refreshment counter employees
were still provided by the owner
open mike that drew young people
eventually replaced by poets with
varying degrees of pedigree
as features plus open mikes
stylishly designed featured poet broadsheets
on the host's adjoining table
plus numerous books by the host
at his personal table
peers of the host who used to attend
more often in the days of Magical Then
less frequent in the days of
LotsofGrownUpThingstoDo Now
readings started at Nine
and, much later, at Eight
and, by the beginning of January,
likely to be
no more events
at all
then all you can do
is turn on your mental DVR
to replay highlights

Los Angeles poetry/music venue Cobalt Cafe, as we know it, will close soon.

The Canoga Park rock club which provided a home for teen bands and Rick Lupert's long-running reading (which, during the years I went there, morphed from an all-open mike into a mostly more conventional featured poet and open readers format) will close its doors at the end of this month.

Assuming Rick will find another venue in 2015--or, at the very least, become a recurring host of special-event readings at Beyond Baroque in Venice CA.

Quoting Rick's letter in its entirety:
Sad News from the Cobalt front:
The Cobalt Cafe is closing
After over 20 years of providing an all-ages venue for music and poetry in the West San Fernando Valley, the Cobalt will be closing it's doors at the end of 2014. We're planning a 20th Anniversary/Farewell event for Tuesday night December 30th at the Cobalt. So please save the date for that.
Thank you very much to Dave Politi, the Cobalt Cafe owner for essentially giving a giant donation to the L.A. Poetry community over the last 20 years by providing the venue for free on Tuesday nights. We wish you nothing but the best in health and success in whatever adventures lay ahead for you.
There's a very slim chance the Cobalt will be sold, and if so we have no idea if the new owners would be interested in contuing to offer the venue for the reading to continue. It's all very unlikely but we will update you if anything develops.
Thanks very much to the thousands of people who have attended the weekly reading over the last 20 years that I've had the privilege to host it.
Rick Lupert

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Top Ten DVDs from other specialty companies.

Again, in no specific order:
1. DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN--Susan Seidelman's time capsule of NYC mid-80s Hip--Kino Lorber
2. DARK CITY 1950 noir starring Charlton Heston later reworked into Henry Hathaway's 1968 Western 
3. TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING--late-period Robert Aldrich thriller with Burt Lancaster--Olive Films
4. THE PROWLER--UCLA restoration of classic film noir directed by Joseph Losey with Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes--VCI
5. BLUE COLLAR--out-of-print issue of Paul Schrader's working-men's heist film with Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto--Anchor Bay
6. THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT--Limited Blu-ray issue of heist film with character and humor from pre-epic-era Michael Cimino starring Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges and George Kennedy--Twilight Time
7. THE HIRED HAND--also out-of-print from Anchor Bay; Peter Fonda's 1971 Western (mismarketed as a conventional actioner by Universal) co-starring Verna Bloom, Warren Oates and Severn Darden.
8. MIKE'S MURDER--1983 modern L.A. noir directed by James Bridges with Debra Winger, Mark Keyloun, Darrell Larson and Paul Winfield--Warner Bros. Archive Collection (Print-on-Demand DVD)
9. DON'T LOOK BACK--the legendary D.A. Pennebaker concert film with Bob Dylan (DocuRama/NewVideo)
10. HIGHWAY PATROLMAN aka EL PATRULLERO--amorality play about decent Mexican cop surrounded by corruption ties with REPO MAN as maverick director Alex Cox's masterpiece (Microcinema)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Criterion Top 10.

In no specific order, here are the Top 10 films I've seen which were released by the boutique classic-and-contemporary film DVD/streaming-via-Hulu Plus imprint Criterion:

1. BAND OF OUTSIDERS (director: Jean-Luc Godard)
2. THE THIRD MAN (director: Carol Reed--out of print but worth finding)
3. PEEPING TOM (director: Michael Powell)
4. BLACK NARCISSUS (directors: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)
5. A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (director: Richard Lester)
6. PLAYTIME (director: Jacques Tati; currently available as part of the Tati boxset)
7. TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (director: Monte Hellman)
8. DAYS OF HEAVEN (director: Terrence Malick)
9. BREATHLESS (director: Jean-Luc Godard)
10. THE LAST WAVE (director: Peter Weir)

Honorable Mention (UPDATED 7/3/16): RED DESERT (director: Michelangelo Antonioni), CONTEMPT (director Jean-Luc Godard), SOMETHING WILD (director: Jonathan Demme), BLOW OUT (director: Brian De Palma), DAZED AND CONFUSED (director: Richard Linklater), BADLANDS (director: Terrence Malick), VIDEODROME (director: David Cronenberg), THE SEVENTH SEAL (director: Ingmar Bergman), PERSONA (director: Ingmar Bergman), NAKED LUNCH (director: David Cronenberg), HEAVEN'S GATE (director: Michael Cimino), GIMME SHELTER (directors: The Maysles Brothers), DR. STRANGELOVE (director: Stanley Kubrick)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

London's GUARDIAN on Ferguson.

"The flames of Monday night’s unrest were manufactured, but not by media. They were stoked for hours, by McCulloch, who riled up the crowds needlessly until night fell; they were fueled for days, by Missouri governor Jay Nixon, who whipped up hysteria with his pre-emptive “state of emergency” and his calling-in of the National Guard. The flames were fanned for hundreds of years, by the white supremacy and structural racism that have wreaked economic, physical, psychological and spiritual violence upon black Americans for centuries."

Article in its entirety:http://www.

Monday, November 24, 2014


after the topsoil of alleged drugs,
alleged rape of unconscious victims,
and the awakenings and discoveries,
we now dig into the next level
of celebrity sediment:
talent and modeling agencies
supplying bodies to use-and-discard,
plus employees to run celebrity errands--
hold the great man's cigar
block the dressing room door
when "interviews" take place
find housing for mistresses
keep the great man's name
off the checks and money orders
excitement wears off
and the weariness of doing grubby chores
then the fear of being fired
by the no-longer-great man who once gave you
a personally signed photo
repeated by nervous interviewers
on separate occasions
as Bill scowls and thunders:
enjoyed the first BILL COSBY SHOW
with Bill as easygoing coach Chet Kincaid
as well as the first two or three years
before it grew smug and self-satisfied
liked to go to the Playboy Jazz Festival
when Cosby was the MC
and admired what he did for jazz
at the festival and on TV as well
fast-forward a few years
to when Ennis Cosby was murdered
and I gave money to the HELLO FRIEND charity
formed in his memory
cut to a few years later,
when Bill Cosby had his
maybe-or-maybe-not daughter
(by a woman who wasn't his wife Camille)
jailed for extortion
that was cold, I thought
even colder when Plutocrat Bill
started telling poor and middle-class people
way too frigid for me--
and for Hannibal Buress too
someday, I'll be tempted to watch Bill Cosby
in something he acted in three to four decades ago
or revisit an old stand-up routine on YouTube
and I'll try to compartmentalize
he could be a fine actor and funny storyteller
when he wasn't preoccupied
with grinding people's lives
into topsoil

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bill Cosby, public and private.

Excerpted from a late-90s interview with Jamie Foxx (conducted by Neil Gladstone) for PHILADELPHIA CITYPAPER:

Have you spoken with Bill Cosby since he criticized Booty Call?
Yeah, I did. He was like [does Cosby voice]: "I know what they're tryin' ta get ya ta do, 'cause they had me do some things that wasn't so cool." He had good things to say and I understood where he was coming from. But it did get under my skin a bit when he went toNewsweek before telling me. He didn't have to single out Booty Call; there were a million movies that came out [that were just as bad], but he decided to pick on that one because it was a little sucessful. My point to him was, "Hey, we're comedians, this is what we do." I saw Mother, Jugs & Speed. I saw Leonard Part 6 where they had him riding an ostrich. Cosby had good points: one should strive to do better things. At the same time you've got to take what you can get to get to where you want to go.
Daily Mail Online article referring to Bill Cosby's recent sort-of-authorized biography:

11/19/14: Cosby's Robert Townsend-directed NETFLIX BILL COSBY 77 is pulled and the NBC sitcom development deal canceled according to Bill Carter of THE NEW YORK TIMES:

CNN talks to Cosby's sort-of-authorized biographer as to why he wouldn't write about the rape allegations (excerpt below and full article at plus on-air interview with THE HUFINGTON POST:
As Mark Whitaker's recent Cosby biography makes clear, the man has his demons. He had affairs while on the road and there have been bumps in his long marriage to his wife, Camille.
But Whitaker, a former CNN managing editor, told CNN that he didn't feel comfortable airing the rape allegations.
"Basically, I knew that I was going to have to be very careful in what I said about his private life. I felt that way as a journalist and also for legal reasons," he said in an interview about the biography.
"In the case of these other allegations, basically because there were no definitive court findings, no independent witnesses, it didn't meet my standard for what I was going to put in the book."
"I also was very aware that if I just did a she said-he said, and I printed allegations and denials without my own independent reporting, first of all it's not really in the spirit in the book, but also every person who then reviewed or reported on the book would be free to repeat those unconfirmed allegations just because they were in my book. And I just didn't feel comfortable being responsible for that."
Still, the rape allegations are always just a mouse click away.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The morning after the 2014 Midterms.

Boldly stating what most progressives/liberals/sort-of-left-of-centers don't want to hear:
It made no difference whether or not the Democrats held onto the Senate.
The President is a mild, Wall Street loving, confrontation-averse centrist who capitulates to the Right instead of governing in the fashion of Great Society era LBJ (omitting Vietnam from this assessment).
As Bill Richardson mentioned last night, expect more Executive Orders in terms of policy implementation.
And, perhaps, the ultimate Obama capitulation is on the way: approving the Keystone XL pipeline.
And, also, more Endless War to be passed onto the next occupant of the Oval Office.
Finally, expect to hear the words "We don't have the votes" even more often.

P.S.: A special mention of those Democrats (Allison Lundergan Grimes in particular) who couldn't and wouldn't stand up for the positive policy changes that actually occurred during the previous six years (namely health care).

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A few words on NIGHTCRAWLER.

Adapted from post-viewing impressions I left on Twitter last night:
NIGHTCRAWLER **1/2 of ****. Sometimes effective, other times cartoonish story of garrulous sociopath/self-made TV news cameraman. NIGHTCRAWLER is what a collaboration between Paddy Chayefsky, Barry Levinson and Joel Schumacher might have looked like--NETWORK, JIMMY HOLLYWOOD and FALLING DOWN all mashed together. To be fair to writer/director Dan Gilroy, NIGHTCRAWLER can be spot on as a study in LA desperation and amorality, but also too comfy with easy cynicism--notably its finale.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The "weed them out" poetry community mentality in a nutshell.

Was on Amazon a few minutes ago and noticed this comment on an anthology of Southern California poets:
I like the idea of providing an alternative medium to recognize poetic talent. The different levels of accomplishment, though, really dilute the truly talented .

Monday, October 27, 2014

Two AV Club commenters sum up BOARDWALK EMPIRE.

Commenter "CCRN": Nucky's character just wasn't compelling enough compared to the other giants in the room.

Commenter Jehoshaphat-ass bass: Yeah, but that was the point.  Luciano/Capone stories have been done a million times. It became a straight gangster story by the end, but it was really about the sea change from local political machines controlling everything to the awesome profits of bootlegging upsetting the whole equation and necessitating the strong arm of the federal government to develop a terrifying national police force. The central story was not a Sopranos-esque narrative of an uber-powerful Alpha Male raging against the cosmos, it was a Wire-esque narrative of sweeping changes in political and economic power throwing everything into chaos..  Granted, it didn't always work, but I'm glad they didn't go the Sopranos well for the millionth time.

Suzanne Lummis, THE NEW YORKER and the likely impact in Los Angeles literary circles.

Let's look at this--a win for Suzanne Lummis and her vision of "craft-conscious poetry" and a win for West Coast literary poets who thought they'd never be accepted in the august pages of THE NEW YORKER--on several levels a la INCEPTION:
1. Suzanne will have a boost in the number of potential future students.
2. She'll also have several peers (or those who imagine themselves as peers) who will likely show adoring faces to her while harboring secret "why did SHE get in and I didn't" thoughts.
3. Unfortunately, it's a victory for those in Los Angeles who prefer all poetry emerging from the city to be rather homogenized in terms of notions of quality (the only exception being the welcome election of Luis Rodriguez as the city's Poet Laureate).
4. It's the final, fatal stake through the heart for the more unruly, DIY, coffeehouse non-slam community which used to exist side-by-side with the more Aspirational folks.  And the arrogant, destructive behavior of some of our community's "greatest" poets towards perceived inferiors will increase--along with the timid, for-career's-sake silence that enables it.
5. With THE NEW YORKER achievement and the new book, let's see if Suzanne can use her upsurge to leverage the revival of both the Newer Poets series and the long-dormant Los Angeles Poetry Festival.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time for women in Hollywood to age naturally without plastic surgery.

As most of the world is now aware, Renee Zellweger had the kind of "work" (aka facial surgery) done which erased much of the face she exhibited during her years of Movie Stardom in the 1990s and 2000s.

And, of course, it's difficult to make a nuanced complaint about it in a quick-to-polarize, fueled-by-social-media world.

The last time a major actress appeared as a victim of bad plastic surgery was Kim Novak at the 2014 Academy Awards.  She was greeted with a lot of sexist mockery countered with "it's her choice" pushback.

I watch the still-running ABC daytime soap opera GENERAL HOSPITAL and wince (but not from sexism) when I see Jackie Zeman and Donna Mills appear.

They've had the kind of plastic surgery/facial injections that either immobilize the facial muscles (which appears to have happened to Donna Mills) or puff up the cheeks so much that they're immobile when the actress smiles or exhibits emotions (Jackie Zeman).

True, there are women of a certain age in the business who opt for relatively minimal Botox treatments--some who look a bit blurry as a result (Kelly Ripa) and others who still resemble their younger selves (Rene Russo).

Like it or not, people get older and age visibly on their own.

And it's time for women (and men)--and studio/network executives--to accustom themselves to this without ludicrous or hideous attempts to halt time and force a mask-wearing vision of unwrinkled "youth" onto consumers of "product" and "content."

My modest proposal: plastic surgery should be avoided unless it's intended to undo the results of automobile accidents and/or face-slashing by mentally disturbed criminals.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Abby Norman on Ebola in America.

The truth is, in terms of virology, Ebola should not be a threat to American citizens. We have clean water. We have information. We have the means to educate ourselves, practice proper hand-washing procedures, protect ourselves with hazmat suits. The CDC Disease Detectives were dispatched to Dallas almost immediately to work on the front lines to identify those who might be at risk, who could have been exposed. We have the technology, and we certainly have the money to keep Ebola at bay. What we don't have is communication. What we don't have is a health care system that values preventative care. What we don't have is an equal playing field between nurses and physicians and allied health professionals and patients. What we don't have is a culture of health where we work symbiotically with one another and with the technology that was created specifically to bridge communication gaps, but has in so many ways failed. What we don't have is the social culture of transparency, what we don't have is a stopgap against mounting hysteria and hypochondria, what we don't have is nation of health literate individuals. We don't even have health-literate professionals. Most doctors are specialists and are well versed only in their field. Ask your orthopedist a general question about your health -- see if they can comfortably answer it.

From the article "I'm a Hazmat-Trained Hospital Worker: Here's What No One Is Telling You About Ebola" on

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

RIP Los Angeles' New Beverly Cinema.

I'm happy to say I was one of the donors who made now-former New Beverly Cinema employee Julia Marchese's documentary OUT OF PRINT (about the 35mm vs digital controversy) a reality.

Was saddened to read today about Julia being ousted by Quentin Tarantino's personal assistant Julie McLean.  Before Julia, Tarantino relieved then-manager Michael Torgan (son of original manager Sherman Torgan) of his duties

Here's Jen Yamato's take on the story from DEADLINE:

And here's the entire blog post from Julia, with a link to see OUT OF PRINT for free:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bono explains the righteousness of corporations paying lower taxes in other countries for you.

In the midst of rock writer Dorian Lynskey's mostly-wet-kiss profile of U2 and SONGS OF INNOCENCE, there's this passage of Bono the Plutocrat formerly known as Paul Hewson waxing eloquent:
Of course, the biggest blow to Bono’s activist reputation has been U2’s collective decision in 2006 to transfer U2 Ltd, which handles their publishing royalties (not the bulk of their income but a significant chunk), from Ireland to the Netherlands to reduce their tax bill. Their Glastonbury set attracted a small lobby of banner-waving protesters. Edge is painstakingly even-handed about it. “Was it totally fair? Probably not. The perception is a gross distortion. We do pay a lot of tax. But if I was them I probably would have done the same, so it goes with the territory.”
Like the protesters, I think the arrangement sits badly with Bono’s development [charitable] work and we go back and forth for a while. It isn’t a clandestine offshore tax haven, Bono insists. “All of our stuff is out in the open. How did people find out about it? Because it’s published. The sneakiness is when you don’t even know what’s going on.” Eventually, we agree to disagree, and the conversation moves on to Ireland’s corporation-friendly tax laws, currently the subject of an EU investigation.
“Look, Ireland is not going to back down on this,” he says. “We are a tiny little country, we don’t have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known. That’s how we got these [tech] companies here. Little countries, we don’t have natural resources, we have to be able to attract people. We’ve been through the 50s and the 60s, and mass haemorrhaging of our population all over the world. There are more hospitals and firemen and teachers because of [Ireland’s tax] policy.”

The complete Lynskey profile of U2 can be found here:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Guessing the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.

From Andy Greene's announcement article in ROLLING STONE:
The nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2015 are in, and the list includes Green DayNine Inch NailsN.W.Athe SmithsLou Reed and Sting. The rest of this year's hopefuls are the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, KraftwerkChicJoan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Marvelettes, the Spinners, Stevie Ray Vaughan, War and Bill Withers. The top vote-getters will be announced toward the end of the year and inducted on April 18th, 2015 at a ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio.

Read more:

Here are my guesses for next year's inductees:
Green Day
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Lou Reed
The Smiths

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Years ago, I wrote a couple of chapbooks about the Southern California poetry scene as I experienced it (and witnessing its effect on other poets).


For the next three months, it will be on-sale exclusively from Amazon.

It costs only 99 cents.

Here's the link:

Monday, October 6, 2014

I have a free e-book available now--CONSPICUOUS PRESUMPTIONS.

Not repeating the mistake of U2, their megamanager Guy Oseary and Apple with SONGS OF INNOCENCE, here are links to reading or downloading my new and free e-book of poetry CONSPICUOUS PRESUMPTIONS:
(Note: the 4shared file is Microsoft Word)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

GONE GIRL the movie and the real-life perils facing women.

From Wesley Morris' GRANTLAND review (SPOILER ALERT):
The movie doubles as a snide contradiction of the serious conversation Americans have been having lately about men, women, exploitation, and violence. Gone Girl isn’t complicating that conversation. It gets off on thumbing its nose at it, using a vengeful false accusation to exploit an old trope of the terrifying femme fatale.
One of the ladies in Nick’s life happens to be played by Emily Ratajkowski, a model made notorious for appearing to enjoy herself while frolicking nude in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video. Ratajkowski doesn’t have a large role here, but it’s significant to the plot. Her presence reminded me how much of the song and the video, like a whole strain of rap and R&B, hinges on a woman being a “good girl,” which in turn hinges on a kind of permissiveness toward the performer who’s paying the compliment. In the music, the good girl is also a “bad girl.” There’s virtually no difference.
The debate about rape and “rapeyness” in pop isn’t a new one. But it has new resonance on college campuses, where protests, vandalism, and lawsuits have challenged the long tradition of silence and slow action in issues of sexual assault. A Columbia University senior named Emma Sulkowicz has become a symbol of the refusal of assault survivors to be cowed: She’s been dragging an actual mattress around campus and vows to continue to do so until the school expels the classmate who raped her. This isn’t the first time that female student activists against assault have insisted on being heard (one need only recall the Take Back the Night rallies of the 1990s), but the protests have gained broader resonance. They’re more confrontational and less tolerant of what can seem like patriarchal or, at best, bureaucratic foot-dragging and opacity. They’ve swelled beyond campuses to include criticizing even the conduct of once-untouchable professional athletes. The release of the Ray Rice video brought men into a conversation that for so long happened mostly among women. Recent investigations into domestic violence and assault in the military, police force, and even small-town Alaska have created a feeling that maybe, just maybe, the country is turning a corner on a serious and divisive issue. And then along comes a major work of Hollywood fiction based on a huge best seller written by a woman about a woman whose greatest power is to cry wolf.
It’s probably the case that Flynn just wanted to tell a fun story about a “complete psycho bitch,” to mock the shallowness of some chick-lit heroines by having all of that frivolity and idle time and man-hunting mutate them into film-noir monsters. It’s also possible that there’s a strain of ideology that could locate the heroic feminist in Amy’s master plan, an argument that the most radical thing Amy can do to avenge her sex — or just herself — is to make a man spend the rest of his life with a woman he despises and distrusts. I just don’t see Camille Paglia asking to get an Amen for that.
And from Tom Shone's blog THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS:
The movie’s many twists and turns eventually reveal a sociopathic villainess who is the architect of Nick’s downfall and whose m.o., when she is not framing innocent lunkheads for murder,  is fabricated charges of rape. It is this that landed Flynn in the cross-hairs of feminists critics who have charged the author with peddling “misogynist caricatures”, and “a deep animosity towards women”. “Gone Girl is the wet dream of every misogynistic men’s ‘rights’ activist,” alleged Interrogating Media in a post entitled Gone Girl and the Specter of FeminismDefending her book on her website, Flynn wrote, I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains — good, potent female villains… The point is, women have spent so many years girl-powering ourselves — to the point of almost parodic encouragement — we’ve left no room to acknowledge our dark side.”  
Certainly, the movie’s timing could not be worse — or better, depending on your point of view — coming as it does in the middle of an ongoing conversation about sexual assault in the US military and on college campuses, where what Millenials quaintly refer to as ‘rape culture’ has prompted petitions demanding the cancellation of a Robin Thicke concert because the lyrics of his song “Blurred Lines” allegedly celebrate “systemic patriarchy and sexual oppression”. (The song has already been banned by more than 20 British universities.) Activists at Wellesley College, in Connecticut, recently demanded that administrators remove a statue of a naked sleepwalking man they said could “trigger” memories of sexual assault for victims.  “To bring up a conversation about rape sets off everybody's discomfort buttons,” says Rebecca Traister, author of Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women. “Rape is one of those crimes that generally includes only two witnesses, which makes it very fertile ground for imaginative fiction, especially when you're talking about interpersonal drama. It's like two-person Rashomon — it’s the ultimate he-said-she-said.  To see the monster we all have within us, to show our little sexual monsters, is uncomfortable.   We can have our brand new feminist ideas about workplace economics, equality, about reproductive rights, and so on, we can have all those ideas, but still have this voice within us telling us these really old ideas about how sex works between men and women. I’m not condemning the book. It’s a page turner, sold a zillion copies, I read it right to the end.   You're going to have troubling gender elements in fiction, because these are the troubling gender elements in life, but it becomes far less liberating when you understand that they are trading on very, very old ideas about the power that women have to sexually, emotionally manipulate men. When you boil women down to only that, it's troubling.” 
At the same time, says Traister,  “Gone Girl explodes marriage,” says Rebecca Traister. And it explodes precisely the one kind of marriage that is still idealized, between white, urban sophisticated people that meet in mid-life. There are many marriage models out there but this is the one that is still viewed aspirationally:   between white, beautiful, privilege educated New Yorkers. That is the picture of marriage that is sold to us, the one we all must desire. And that is the one the book vandalises. So there is a subversive argument being advanced about marriage in the film, that it's not an institution that can tame women any longer.”'  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and ESPN etiquette.

What the three-week suspension looks like, then, is an effort to silence a loud voice of dissent to appease ESPN’s most important business partner. It’s true that ESPN likely felt some pressure to please the NFL, given that the network has invested billions in a league that’s headed up by a guy Simmons won’t stop calling a liar. But one of ESPN’s biggest names, Keith Olbermann, has said loudly, repeatedly, and not all that politely that Goodell needs to go—that he is “an enabler of men who beat women.” What Olbermann has not done is dared his paymasters to shut him up.

The above paragraph comes from Josh Levin's article on ESPN's three-week timeout called on GRANTLAND majordomo Bill Simmons: 

Levin didn't mention it, but Keith Olbermann's opening comments on OLBERMANN have switched from the NFL to safer ground: days of opinionating about retiring New York Yankee Derek Jeter not being All That.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More memorable music of 2014 (to date).

Adding more albums to the previous list:

In no specific order:
1. Ryan Adams--RYAN ADAMS
2. The Psycho Sisters (Vicki Peterson and Susan Cowsill)--UP ON THE CHAIR BEATRICE
3. Smokey Robinson--SMOKEY AND FRIENDS
4. Sinead O'Connor--I'M NOT BOSSY, I'M THE BOSS
6. Jill Sobule--DOTTIE'S CHARMS
7. Richard Thompson--ACOUSTIC CLASSICS

Semi-guilty pleasure: Barbara Streisand: PARTNERS (second duets album)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Michael Douglas explains mainstream Hollywood ideals of male/female body images for you.

From GUARDIAN interview of Michael Douglas, plugging upcoming film THE REACH:
[Actor Jeremy]Irvine spends most of the film topless. He went from playing a malnourished prisoner of war in The Railway Man to this. He was asked to put on 20lb of muscle …
We worked him over pretty good about it: “You’ve gotta be a hunk!”
Is there a double standard here? He had to buff up but it might be seen as sexist for a women to be asked to slim down. Should actors have to be eye candy?
It’s not acceptable for women to be eye candy?! If your role in that picture is to be eye candy and the director looks at you and says: “You’re going to be in your bra and panties and you’re looking pretty soft around the middle.” Absolutely you’d tell that person to kick ass. This guy is search and rescue. He’s a mountaineer. He’s in physical shape. Ignoring the fact that he happens to be a decent-looking guy, it would be wrong for him not to be in shape. If you wanted Seth Rogen running through the desert (6), that’s a different movie.

Link to the complete article:

Re festival-related poetry bookings: this is where I came in.

Eleven years ago, I dared to be impolitic and mention how a poetry reading linked to a certain festival  in a certain part of Los Angeles was too loaded with friends of the curator.

I was criticized for that--and made the cliche "getting hot under the collar" mistake of responding in a not-nice manner.

Eleven years later, there will be an upcoming poetry reading linked to another festival in a different part of Los Angeles with what seems to be a circle of friends set to feature (though one talented male poet is making a rare recent appearance--and, for a change, an up-and-coming male poet gets to be part of the occasion).  Ironic to point out that two of the features that day are apparently poets that Los Angeles can't get enough of--particularly since they are on a bill this Sunday with a former poet/comedienne who has successfully reinvented herself as a memoirist.

Actually, I'm resigned to not participating in these soirees except as an open-mic reader if I were to attend.

But it bears repeating that certain sectors of our local community don't care a bit to analyze the meaning and implications of the word "overexposure."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New poem: GALVESTON 1966

everything's big when you're small:
the Jack Tar Motor Hotel restaurant
with the window view onto the swimming pool
Stewart Beach where my grandfather
and I took a rented float
out onto the waves
and I swallowed salt water
for the first time
and spit it out fast
the apocalyptic argument
my older brother had
with everyone else in the car
because he was forced to vacation
with the rest of the family
at the age of sixteen
instead of seeing his girlfriend back home
and, on the beach,
my dad pointed to
the pillbox installed
to protect the island
during World War II

all over the outside
of the pillbox
one could see
the words SENIORS 67
and GHS
spray-painted in red and black

Friday, September 5, 2014

Quentin Tarantino and the changes coming to L.A.'s New Beverly Cinema.

After years of holding the lease on the building in which Los Angeles' revival theater New Beverly CInema resides (and having some say over recent programming--including a long run of DJANGO UNCHAINED upon its original release), Quentin Tarantino has gained full control of the theater--removing Michael Torgan (son of the late Sherman Torgan, who ran the theater from the 70s until his death in 2007) from film scheduling--plus removing the digital projection system installed last spring.

Here's a link to an interview Tarantino gave to LA WEEKLY:

Michael Torgan's response from the comments section of LA WEEKLY: An important clarification to this article: like most business owners, my family did not own the physical property from which we ran our business.  We leased it since 1978, so we did not literally own the physical theater.  However, we did own the business known as the New Beverly Cinema 100%.  In addition to being the manager/chief programmer, I was also the owner of the business entirely.  This point has often been misunderstood, so I felt a need to make this statement even if I chose not to be interviewed for this piece.

Chris Willman's response to Torgan:
Does "did own" mean Tarantino has finally purchased the business from you? That doesn't seem clear. Thanks, Michael.

Article sympathetic to Michael Torgan from the website LAist:

And there's the possibility of Quentin Tarantino expanding his revival-house empire with an interest in purchasing the currently-closed Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena CA:

UPDATE: The following comments originally appeared on September 7th after a article about Tarantino and the New Beverly:
David: Kudos to Tarantino! As a former ‘real’ film studio projectionist, I lost my job due to digital conversion. There is nothing like being surrounded by film cans! For years when going to a theater to see a movie, I couldn’t help but watch for the reel change mark in the upper right corner of the screen. Now those too have disappeared. I will indeed be by to watch real movies at the Beverly Cinema.

Michael Torgan: David, just a clarification: the New Beverly Cinema may have added a digital projector to supplement its programming, but it by no means went through a digital conversion. We screened over 360 35mm film prints a year via reel to reel change-over projection, and that wasn’t going to change just because I simply added a digital projector to the booth. It’s a revival theater, after all, and 35mm would have ALWAYS remained the preferred format. I had 5 projectionists on staff, and no one was losing a job over the digital projector. We’ve been screening “real” movies at the Beverly Cinema for 36 years.

Here's the link to the article:

Friday, August 29, 2014


the minister's sermon
on the parable of the Prodigal Son
was meant to create a force field
to hold back young parishoners
from a future of long haired rebellion
yea, the minister preached,
the brothers and sisters
standing in hallways
shouting at parents
(who shouted back)
telling them about
wanting so much
to be in control
control over
eating drinking smoking
believing in God
going to college
going to war
leaving hometown
for another country
if necessary
they are prodigal
they are wrong
and one day they will come home
beg for forgiveness
from God and man
get a haircut
wear sensible clothes
find a good job
I sat through the sermon
at the age of ten
wanting the church service
to end soon
so we could go to the drugstore
all through the closing hymn,
I thought of buying a small Coke
from the vending machine
near the candy counter

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The cruelty of anonymous website creators: from poets to Showbiz insiders.

Whatever one thinks of the outspoken columnist Nikki Finke--who had a print career and transitioned to the DEADLINE website, which launched a seismic shift of Industry trade papers VARIETY and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER from daily newsstand editions to online--she doesn't deserve this kind of treatment:

Anonymity used for the purpose of shutting up voices one doesn't want to hear isn't heroic or courageous--it's more cowardly and small than the person(s) being attacked.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Henry Rollins' pathetic writings on Robin Williams and suicide.

After reading Henry Rollins' current LA WEEKLY column, I'm rather chagrined to admit I devoted a blog post to something he wrote weeks back on the state of Las Vegas in the 2010s.

I'm partially aware of Rollins' career as tough-guy actor--never bought Black Flag albums when he was the frontman, or the later Rollins Band albums and spoken-word recordings.

One good thing Henry Rollins did was to publish a book by Los Angeles poet Ellyn Maybe through his 2.13.61 small press imprint.

Ellyn's one of the nicest, kindest, most sensitive Major Poets in the Southern California community.

So, imagine my discomfort when I read articles excerpting Henry Rollins' "I'm going to take the blows for speaking out" cruelty at the expense of the late Robin Williams, his widow and three adult children.  I can also imagine the WEEKLY/VILLAGE VOICE conglomerate's glee over Rollins writing something Controversial that gives the LA WEEKLY (which went from Left to Right-leaning under the bad stewardship of Michael Lacey) some Worldwide Attention.

Let's look at one excerpt from Rollins' bilge; if you kill yourself and you're an actor/comic/writer/musician, your work is forever dead to Henry Rollins:
When someone negates their existence, they cancel themselves out in my mind. I have many records, books and films featuring people who have taken their own lives, and I regard them all with a bit of disdain. When someone commits this act, he or she is out of my analog world. I know they existed, yet they have nullified their existence because they willfully removed themselves from life. They were real but now they are not.

I no longer take this person seriously. I may be able to appreciate what he or she did artistically but it’s impossible to feel bad for them. Their life wasn’t cut short — it was purposely abandoned. It’s hard to feel bad when the person did what they wanted to. It sucks they are gone, of course, but it’s the decision they made. I have to respect it and move on.

Link to the complete column (with the charming title "Fuck Suicide") is here:

Bidding goodbye to Henry Rollins as he takes his place on the bench alongside other folks like Gene Simmons (who also made a "suicides are weaklings looking for attention" type of comment about Robin Williams, but Simmons did back away from his toxic statement after members of the KISS Army objected) and Ted Nugent.  These are pathetic people who engage in verbal sadism/chest-thumping Superiority in order to keep outdated cartoon notions of toughness, "brutal honesty" and manhood alive for their won't-think-for-themselves fan bases.

Graphic example of this--Rollins' close to his Robin Williams/suicide column:
I have life by the neck and drag it along. Rarely does it move fast enough. Raw Power forever.

UPDATE: Henry Rollins later apologized:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Maureen Dowd on the state of the President.

Column by Maureen Dowd of THE NEW YORK TIMES about Barack Obama, titled "Alone Again, Naturally":

A key passage from the column:
The extraordinary candidate turns out to be the most ordinary of men, frittering away precious time on the links. Unlike L.B.J., who devoured problems as though he were being chased by demons, Obama’s main galvanizing impulse was to get himself elected.

Almost everything else — from an all-out push on gun control after the Newtown massacre to going to see firsthand the Hispanic children thronging at the border to using his special status to defuse racial tensions in Ferguson — just seems like too much trouble.

The 2004 speech that vaulted Obama into the White House soon after he breezed into town turned out to be wrong. He misdescribed the country he wanted to lead. There is a liberal America and a conservative America. And the red-blue divide has only gotten worse in the last six years.
The man whose singular qualification was as a uniter turns out to be singularly unequipped to operate in a polarized environment.
His boosters argue that we spurned his gift of healing, so healing is the one thing that must not be expected of him. We ingrates won’t let him be the redeemer he could have been.



Monday, August 18, 2014


The President triangulates:
I don't want to rock the boat
I'm already sending the Attorney General
My presence in Ferguson
makes white bigots more bigoted
It's a local situation there
I don't want to risk showing anger
I can't risk being seen as strident
in criticizing white policemen
for treating all young black men
as potential criminals
I imagine myself going to
Michael Brown's funeral
and having someone on Fox News
compare me to
Tom Bradley criticizing
the verdicts for the LAPD cops
at the Simi Valley trial
for the beating of Rodney King
in 1992
Let's all support
My Brother's Keeper program
and turn the page on this episode

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Observation on mental illness from GUARDIAN article on Robin Williams.

All illness is a great leveller, but none levels like mental illness. It remains the poor relation of medicine. Research is paltry. Therapies are halfhearted. Drugs are primitive. But addictive and depressive illness seems to probe deep into the relations between individuals and those around them. It is the crack in the window that can seem beyond mending. The sadness of the clown goes beyond irony. It is one of the great mysteries of life.

The above quote is from Simon Jenkins' GUARDIAN article on the death of Robin Williams:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Selected Robin Williams films, by category.

Surprised and saddened by the passing of Robin Williams.  For relative newcomers to his three-decade-plus filmography, here's a list of noteworthy theatrical and TV movies:
FAMILY ENTERTAINER: POPEYE (1980)--the Robert Altman musical with Harry Nilsson songs--esoteric but worth watching for Williams' rapport with co-stars Shelley Duvall and Ray Walston.
HOOK (1991)--as an adult Peter Pan in Steven Spielberg's  take on the James Barrie original.
MRS. DOUBTFIRE (1993)--a tremendous hit in its day; the divorced-dad-as-pretend-Nanny tale caused Williams' career to shift for a few years in the direction of "entertaining kids intelligently (then-wife and producing partner Marcia Garces)
COMEDY and DRAMEDY: Williams' prime period for these genres was in the 1980s:
ANIMATED VOICE-OVERS: The two most representative examples are ALADDIN and HAPPY FEET.
DRAMA: GOOD WILL HUNTING, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, SEIZE THE DAY (Fielder Cook's 1986 Saul Bellow adaptation for PBS--where Williams held his own with fine supporting performances from Jerry Stiller and Joseph Wiseman), THE NIGHT LISTENER, INSOMNIA, ONE HOUR PHOTO
INDEPENDENT FILMS: Haven't seen Bobcat Goldthwait's dark farce WORLD'S GREATEST DAD, but Williams received some of his best late-career reviews as the title character.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Henry Rollins explains Las Vegas in 2014 for you.

What I don’t understand is that, when you have the chance to build a place in the middle of nowhere so you can do what you want, this is apparently what you want — to eat at the same chain restaurants, to drink the same alcohol that you can get anywhere but with the added bonus of getting fleeced by professionals.

The above passage is from Henry Rollins' current LA WEEKLY column:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Peter Frampton and cell-phone concert videos: a contrarian view.

Today, this bit of News Trivia went viral:

I'm aware that the "fan" was obnoxious enough for Peter Frampton to put him on the Cannot Call cell phone plan.  And I'm also cognizant that Frampton and his management (and perhaps the venue) didn't want video taken at the concert.

But I think Peter Frampton shot himself in the metaphorical foot.

With the physical recording market becoming more niche and downloads giving way to pay-per-month music streaming services, artists need to make the bulk of their money on the road.

Though it may pain Frampton to look out into the audience and see cell phones instead of raised cigarette lighters (particularly in the post-FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE superstardom period of 1976-77), fan-shot concert videos are his best, cost-free-to-him, mode of advertising.

A typical YouTube user may see a snippet of a recent Frampton concert and buy a ticket for a future show.

And--who knows?  The fan may actually enjoy the show so much he/she forgets to take out his/her phone.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


The best songs from the past two decades of Tom Petty/Heartbreakers/Mudcrutch studio albums in chronological order:
11. SCARE EASY (Mudcrutch)
12. CRYSTAL RIVER (Mudcrutch)
18. TRAILER (Mudcrutch)
19. I FORGIVE IT ALL (Mudcrutch)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

1967 vs 2014: Two film critics fight against two different "radical" films.

In 1967, there was NEW YORK TIMES film critic Bosley Crowther on Arthur Penn and Warren Beatty's gangster-genre-reshaping BONNIE AND CLYDE:

Cut to this summer.  Kenneth Turan disliked Richard Linklater's filmed-over-12-years coming-of-age-genre-reshaping BOYHOOD (which I haven't seen yet).  Unlike Crowther with BONNIE AND CLYDE, Turan recused himself from reviewing BOYHOOD upon its release--waiting a few weeks to write this think piece which is a sort of I-feel-so-alone-and-marginalized-but-I'm-Right-damnit primal scream about the film, other film critics' excellent reviews of the film. director Linklater's career and Turan's own recent career at THE LOS ANGELES TIMES:

Friday, August 1, 2014

Re Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' HYPNOTIC EYE.

As of this writing, I've heard just about all of the new, hyped as return-to-form, album HYPNOTIC EYE from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.  Yes, it's an improvement over the marinated-in-blues predecessor MOJO--but it's not the artistic and musical rejuvenation Bruce Springsteen had with MAGIC and R.E.M. had with ACCELERATE.

Petty has been on the Warner Bros. family of labels for about twenty years now.  And it's one of those times when one can actually feel empathy for the corporate bean-counters instead of the truculent artist.  I'm guessing that there are many times when WB recording executives have heard Tom Petty say variations of "I have nothing left to prove and my fan base will follow me wherever I go."

Here's my evaluation of the last twenty years of Tom Petty:
Only "essential" Heartbreakers collection; the LIVE RECORDINGS boxset.
"Essential" solo album: WILDFLOWERS (receiving an expanded reissue later this year)
Worthwhile "one for me" project: the MUDCRUTCH album.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


 fiftysomething man
 sits far away from the heat and drought
 reads the Twitter post
 from a young Wichita Falls Texas resident
 about how the city is now known
 for drinking recycled "pee water"
 while waiting for rain
 I thought Kevin Costner
 consuming his own body fluids
 would always be science fiction,
 muses the former Wichita Falls resident
 imagining a young man
 going to the Kemp Public Library
 for a few hours of air-conditioned refuge
 passing by the front door sign:
 it wasn't exactly this way
 when the fiftysomething man lived there
 long long before the abundance of heat
 and the lack of water
 and the tax base shrinking
 and the schools closing
 and the Grand Old Party politicians
 broadcasting and e-mailing
 messages of hate and fear
 plus appeals for campaign cash
 from the relative comfort of Austin
 seeding poisonous rain clouds
 that the city of Wichita Falls--
 whether you like it or not--
 can certainly do without
 as citizens wait and pray
 for the real thing to come along

Like drinking vinegar: the "I'm better than you" poem.

Here's Dian Sousa prefacing her poem by bemoaning a job that took her to Las Vegas and (oh, the horror) made her sell Hello Kitty purses:

Perhaps I'm a relative failure as a poet because I don't think I'm better than others.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Filmmaker Sophia Takal's nonreview of Woody Allen's latest film.

Southern California residents of a certain age might remember Hugh Bonar's brief reign as a hipster film reviewer at LA WEEKLY; Bonar's routine was to write about movies without actually writing  about the movie--essentially snark that assumed the audience colluded with the Bonar ethos that actual analysis of the movie wasn't necessary because (yuk, yuk) the movie's so lame, so bad, so not worth writing about seriously.

Here's filmmaker Sophia Takal's nonreview of Woody Allen's MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT, focusing briefly (as asides) on the film itself (already building consensus as a subpar follow up to last year's BLUE JASMINE):

In fairness to Ms. Takal, she avoids tying the film to references to the child molestation allegations against Allen in the 90s (in which he was not charged) recently revived by Dylan Farrow, her mother Mia Farrow and NEW YORK TIMES columnist Nicholas Kristof.

A.O. Scott did just that in his NYT review:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The BlueInk review of HOLLYWOOD POETRY: 2001-2013.

A middling review from BlueInk, but at least it's from an outlet with no prior knowledge and/or preconceptions of me:
Hollywood Poetry: 2001-2013
Terry McCarty
Xlibris, 57 pages, $15.99, (paperback) $15.99, 9781479793822
(Reviewed: June 2014)
Terry McCarty’s Hollywood Poetry: 2001-2013 presents an interesting and original premise for a
collection of poems, as the work is “based on or inspired by [the author’s] experiences in the film
industry” as an extra and occasional stand-in for Hollywood stars.
McCarty’s poems are neither melodramatic in tone nor clichéd in description, evading two
common poetry pitfalls. However, these poems are also strikingly devoid of imagery, relying
almost exclusively on telling and summary details. For instance, in the opening poem “Clint
Eastwood in Italy,” the lines “I’m one day closer/ to my ultimate goal—stardom” appear twice.
While direct and explicit, the lines don’t engage the senses or paint a picture in the reader’s
mind. This pattern continues with similar statements, such as “I threw a lifetime of caution,
practicality/ and restraint to the wind./ I decided to become an actor—immediately” and “It was
one of those rare good days/ when I wasn’t worrying/ about who I should be/ and where my life
ought to be.” Such lines lack the prosody and imagination of more crafted work and read more
like jottings in a journal.
When more showing details are incorporated into these poems, the reader becomes instantly
more engaged. A strong example is: “AGNES MOOREHEAD IS GOD/ read the spray-paintedin-
black graffiti/ on a brick wall located at the back/ of a parking lot on Vine Street.” There are
also some formally innovative poems that fire the reader’s imagination, such as “Visiting Day,”
which makes good use of the second person, the “Botox Haiku,” and “Icarus’ Itinerary 2004
Version,” a retelling of the myth using the imperative form and drawing from the contemporary
Overall, this is promising material. The journalistic style of these poems allows for moments of
humor and insight. If the author can incorporate sensory details as well as a stronger
metaphorical dimension to balance the literal and documentary nature of these poems, his work
should have much appeal.
Also available as an ebook.