Archive for August, 2007

Jazz Showcase Returns to Chicago

On the same day we learned of the passing of CBGB founder Hilly Kristal, we were encouraged to read in the Chicago Tribune that Jazz Showcase — the famous jazz spot that opened in 1947 and closed its doors on December 31st, 2006 — will soon return to our hometown of Chicago in a new location, at the Dearborn Station… Also in yesterday’s Tribune, the piece “Ignoring New Orleans’ Poor — Again” by columnist Clarence Page shed light on the current state of the birthplace of jazz. For more on Clarence Page, click here to read his 2005 interview with Stop Smiling.

| |

Bonfire of the Vanities

While New Orleans observes the two-year anniversary of Katrina’s tragic legacy, the rest of the US whets an appetite for petty destruction: In Nevada, a performance artist was arrested for prematurely igniting the 40-foot-tall Burning Man monument; the Jaguar belonging to Karl Rove was covered in “I (heart) Obama” stickers and Saran Wrap near the White House; and there will be plenty of money left for clean-up in the life of Trouble, the appropriately-named dog of the late Leona Helmsley, who is set to receive $12 million dollars in Helmsley’s will, as reported by the NY Observer.

| |

Snuff Takes a Holiday

In this week’s Los Angeles Times, critic Joe Queenan celebrates the silver lining at the multiplexes this summer: the “laughable box-office performance” of sadistic torture movies (what David Edelstein of New York magazine has dubbed “torture porn”). This trend, Queenan writes, “nurtures a slender hope that mutilation (and its kid-sister, self-mutilation), binding, unauthorized coed kidney excision, immolation and general depravity may be going out of fashion.” Alas, Bratz remains.

| |

Last Call: The Dilla Archives

With the release of Jay Deelicious: The Delicious Vinyl Years comes another opportunity to tap the seemingly bottomless vaults of J Dilla, the definitive Detroit producer who passed away in 2006. The benefits of these posthumous releases encouraged us to revisit our recent Dilla coverage: Hua Hsu on the death of J Dilla and James Brown; Sam Sweet on Ruff Draft; James Hughes on The Shining; and an excerpt of our cover story interview with Madlib, a fellow beatmaker and frequent Dilla collaborator.

| |

For Whom the Bell Tolls…
Again… And Again…

The summer’s easiest target may be the late Ernest Hemingway. A string of pieces has accused the author of several posthumous misdeeds. Most recently, the NY Times calculated “the effect the world’s best fishing writer might have had on the world’s biggest fish.” (The Times tallied the number of fish that would have lived had Hemingway not caught them around several million). Killing fish from the grave not enough? How about terrorizing cats? An animal behaviorist is being sent to the author’s home in Key West, which is now a museum, to assess the well being of the 47 cats who still roam his property. And even the White House has chastised Papa. Efforts by admirers and congressmen to preserve Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s crumbling home outside Havana, have been batted down by the Bush administration, for fear of violating the embargo and boosting Cuban tourism.

| |

Fox Cancels 1/2 Hour News Hour

The 1/2 Hour News Hour, Fox News Channel’s attempt at a mock TV news show, came to an end after six months and 16 episodes when it was canceled by the network late last week, because it was “too expensive to produce.” Originally conceived by executive producer Joel Surnow, creator of 24, the show was a conservative alternative to the satirical news practiced by The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” segments. The 1/2 Hour News Hour was doomed from the outset when, as an intro to the first episode, the producers ran a “what-if-it-really happened” skit starring the next president, Rush Limbaugh, along with Vice President Ann Coulter. I guess they thought that witless, repressed white demagogues who set our country back 100 years were funny. Apparently they are, to some extent. According to the NY Times, the show was Fox’s highest-rated half hour among adults ages 25 to 54. I’d hate to see the numbers on The Beltway Boys.

| |

Espresso Youth

Anne Elizabeth Moore channels 100% of her frustration over Sonic Youth’s decision to sign a recording deal with Starbucks into a thorough critique for In These Times. Frontman Thurston Moore, who claims Starbucks is “the new record store” might have a point: This article in the NY Sun, headlined “Mom-and-Pop Music Stores Slump in iPod Age,” pays homage to the shops that once dotted the landscape of Sonic Youth’s hometown. Where have they gone? And have you seen any Starbucks in Greenwich Village lately?

| |

Please Manipulate Me


Today’s New York Times looks at the bizarre rise of online visitors who frequent websites “devoted to commercials and other forms of advertising for amusement, rather than hard-core huckstering.” Apparently for some attention spans, the 30-second ad is the marquee event. On the other end of the spectrum, Slate’s “Ad Report Card” column recently compiled “Ads We Hate.”

| |

Max Roach R.I.P. (1924-2007)

August 16, 2007: Blue Note Records reports that Max Roach, the legendary Jazz drummer, bebop founder, band leader and civil rights activist, died in his sleep last night in New York City. Along with drummer Kenny Clarke,” says Blue Note spokesman, Cem Kurosman, “Roach redifined the role of drums in Jazz during the bebop revolution of the late Forties and early Fifties, participating in many of the movement’s seminal recordings with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Bud Powell and Thelonius Monk. In the mid-Fifties, Roach co-led a quintet with Clifford Brown that was one of hard bop’s premeire bands up until the trumpeter’s untimely death in a car accident in 1956. Roach was 83 years old.”

| |

Verhoeven on Bergman

While preparing the final edit of our feature interview with director Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Basic Instinct, Black Book), due to appear in our December issue, we decided to revisit one omitted exchange about Ingmar Bergman, in light of his passing.

Click here to read Verhoeven on Bergman.

| |

« Previous entries