Archive for June, 2008

The Handgun Debate of 2008

Last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court that Washington, DC’s strict handgun ban violated the Second Amendment has triggered a nationwide debate. A devastated Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington, DC (murder capital of 2002) told Newsweek that “putting more guns in the city’s borders leads to more crime”; in Chicago (murder capital of 2003), Mayor Richard Daley called the court’s ruling “very frightening” and vowed to fight any attempt to invalidate the city’s ban; in Philadelphia (murder rate of one per day in 2007), columnist Jill Porter writes, “As of yesterday, 130 of the city’s 158 homicide victims were killed with guns”; in Houston (379 murders in in 2006), the Chronicle hailed the decision: “This landmark decision was a victory for Texas and for all Americans.” A headline at the Denver Post: “Gun Ruling Splits Coloradans.” The DC gun ban has divided columnists at the hometown Washington Post, and the conversation continues.

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Gen Art Film Festival in Chicago

At the Monday night premiere of the second annual Gen Art Film Festival, taxis and a few limos pulled up to the entrance of Chicago’s Music Box Theater and unloaded passengers onto the sidewalk and into the flashing lights of “paparazzi” cameras. But unlike last year’s festival held in New York City–which boasted appearances by Heather Graham and Alan Cumming–it was only the moviegoers that received star treatment, despite cameos by Jennifer Tilly and William H. Macy among others in the independent films screened at the festival.

A week-long event, each night of the Gen Art festival features a screening of a short film, a feature film, and of course—an afterparty. Prizes awarded to the favorite films were sponsored by Acura, who was thanked profusely throughout the course of the night.

Monday evening’s short, entitled Goldfish and directed by Joe Wein, follows the travails of two elementary school girls determined to return classroom goldfish to their natural home (a la Finding Nemo) by flushing them down the toilet. The feature film, Bart Got a Room, directed by Brian Hecker, concerns the journey of an earnest but unfortunate protagonist to find a prom date in a movie whose plot and characters will seem a little stale to anyone who’s seen American Pie, Juno, or Superbad. Following the films, the cast and crew fielded questions from the audience, addressing issues ranging from film production to how the crew managed to simulate lizard sex on screen. The rest of the week’s screenings will be held at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley.

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In Need of Rebranding

Time to freshen up: the Obama campaign retired its revised presidential seal after an outcry from the RNC; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Pacman Jones is seeking a new nickname (watch it, Imus); Nas tells New York magazine why he had to change his album title; Apple contemplates how to accommodate the women with long fingernails who have complained that the design of the new iPhone is sexist; Internet domains may get a brand new set of names; and it’s now Sir Salman Rushdie to you. Keep up.

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Jay Reatard – Tiny Little Home

Jay Lindsey has been making music in Memphis for over a decade in various projects: the Reatards, the Lost Sounds (if you haven’t heard Memphis is Dead, please remedy that immediately), Angry Angles and so on. His solo career under the moniker Jay Reatard, however, has produced the most critical acclaim. Last year’s Blood Visions is one of the most compelling albums I’ve heard in years, an almost perfect marriage of Raw Power-era garage rock and scathing, punk rock aggression. So, when Reatard started his own blog, ears perked up. And there, on his blog, was where he unveiled this little number. Few people could pull off an upbeat, happy sounding song about having a little house and a garden with a garden gnome, and then end it by screaming “stab ’em in the back!” It’s nice to see that rock/punk music staying at least a little bit dangerous: a rarity these days.

Audio – Jay Reatard – Tiny Little Home

— Post by Eli Russell

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Hip-Hop Pop Quiz

The LA Weekly asks, “Who’s Biting J Dilla‘s Beats?” Slate goes on a cosmic quest, exploring “why so many black musicians have been obsessed with outer space,” while the New York Times wonders how, in a year when record sales have declined 11 percent, Lil Wayne has become the first musician in three years to top one million sales in the first week of a new release. Read the Times piece here.

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Metal Roundup

First and foremost, Heavy Metal in Baghdad is now out on DVD. If you missed it in the theaters, do yourself a favor and grab one. It’s one of the most honest portraits of a band we’ve ever seen, and a glimpse into what life continues to be like for the millions of Iraqi refugees around the world. It looks as if energy drinks are sponsoring all the big metal tours this summer. Read the last paragraph: we’re not the types to say I told you so, but this trend is about to get large. The long-awaited silver screen adaptation of Neil Strauss’ 2001 Motley Crue biography, Dirt, is on hold. Yes, again (bonus: Want to see something funny? If you’ve never seen comedian Eugene Mirman’s Motley Crue video, click here). Lastly, if you’re sleuthy enough on the internet, you can probably fish out some tracks from the new Guns’N’Roses album. Maybe Dr Pepper is going to have to pony up after all.

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Gambling in the Headlines

We’re not the only ones fixated on gambling: the Daily Mail reports on allegations that Wimbledon is being fixed by bookmakers for the Russian mafia; the New York Sun reports on Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg‘s efforts to keep Off-Track Betting parlors open; the Las Vegas Sun is closely following the cost of expansion in Sin City, focusing on the 11 construction-related deaths over the past 16 months; the New York Times discovers the secret world of poker chip collectors. And related ever so slightly: Mark Wahlberg created a happening of his own when he publicly bashed the Ocean’s 11 films. “The second one sucked,” Wahlberg told UK’s Zoo Today. “People tell George Clooney it’s great, but we all know it sucked.”

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Sports Analysis Goes Zapruder

Highlight reels are great, but some recent bombshells from the sporting world have mushroomed beyond acceptable levels of over-analysis: Slate posted a hilarious minute-by-minute breakdown of Kevin Garnett‘s surreal Sally Field moment after his Boston Celtics won the title; Tiger Woods‘ injury at the US Open last week continues to get the Omaha Beach treatment, complete with details on the sounds of his knee bone grinding; the firing of New York Mets manager Willie Randolph has become the Manhattan Project. And it’s CSI: Detroit as details continue to emerge about how the Red Wings dented the Stanley Cup during drunken hijinx in Hockeytown.

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Tim Russert (1950-2008)

The Washington bureau chief of NBC News and longtime moderator of Meet the Press has died at 58 (he was recording voiceovers for Sunday’s MTP program at the time, and collapsed after going into cardiac arrest). The NY Times has posted a timeline of events surrounding Russert’s passing, including the reaction from colleagues in the media, and his hometown paper, The Buffalo News, has praised Russert’s “straight-forward and informed coverage.” MSNBC has posted his last interview, posted less than three hours before his death was announced. Media Bistro has compiled a selection of media coverage.

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Smackdowns, Takeovers and Rebuffs

It’s been a week of one-upsmanship, and not just courtesy of the the Boston Celtics: The Supreme Court stood up to the Bush administration over constitutional habeas rights for prisoners at Guantanamo; airlines continued to smack new fees on everything from luggage to bottled water, irking customers; Anheuser-Busch Cos., the nation’s biggest brewery, received a $46 billion buyout offer from a Belgian brewer; Obama moved key elements of the Democratic National Committee into his own campaign’s Chicago headquarters. And Slate dismantled Planet Green.

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