Thursday, December 25, 2008

The 90's (and) Charo Loves Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I'm on my way to a 5-day wedding/birthday extravaganza on the East Coast today, so I will be back with more 90's culture in about a week! In the meantime, check out 90's rock babe Aimee Mann's (she found fame in the 80's band Til Tuesday, but had significant success providing music for Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 film "Magnolia") "Christmas Carol" videos:

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Can't Believe You Don't Own This F%#kin' Record - Pearl Jam - Ten Reissue

PEARL JAM - TEN (1991)

Woo buddy I loved this record in the 90's. First things first: Pearl Jam's seminal 90's album "Ten" is being reissued in March 2009 in four different packages, each containing a digitally remastered version of the original album (with additional artwork by Ten's original graphic designer, PJ bassist Jeff Ament) with a special treat, such as the two versions including the DVD of PJ's 1992 "MTV Unplugged" set, which I highly recommend picking up. More info about this release and the impending avalanche of Pearl Jam reissues here at Paste Magazine.

Now, on to my utter surprise that you don't own this effin' record. As Mike Myers's Wayne Campbell points out in the eternally-funny 1992 film, "Wayne's World," Peter Frampton's "Frampton Comes Alive!" was sent to suburban kids in the mail with sample boxes of Tide. Pearl Jam's "Ten" was similarly issued to 90's suburban brats.

Where to start with this controversial record? Controversial in that it spawned more than its fair share of terrible imitators: singers refusing to acknowledge the vulnerability in Eddie Vedder's impressively emotive baritone, instead merely Xeroxing its power, ending up laughable caricatures of masculine ego-tripping (see: Creed) and the bands themselves mangling Pearl Jam's nascent melding of punkish energy and 70's style arena rock.

"Obsessed" is not strong enough of a word to describe my passion for this record. Though the fervor has faded, I still stroll back and take in the occasional listen to this still quite effective album. Though some songs sound somewhat dated, the raw power the songs exhibit is what keeps the real rock fan coming back to this classic.

SIDE ONE: "Once" kicks off the album strongly with dark lyrics involving guns and loss of control, making sure you understand where the record is going; on to the exceptional powerhouses "Even Flow, and "Alive," the latter of which is an epic Oedipal saga that has become part of PJ lore; "Why Go," another barn-burner of a song with a funky rumbling bassline that makes rock chicks like me shake the blessed "Black," the song that I credit for my introduction to rock music. I have no idea what Eddie is going on about in "Black" to this day, but it is beautiful.

Then of course, "Jeremy," who spoke in class today, as you well know. I watched that video so many times that I'm sure I could direct a shot-by-shot remake of the the thing from memory. I always enjoyed the last half-minute after Jeremy blew himself away in front of his classmates and they're frozen in place, shielding themselves from his bright red blood. You can check this Mark Pellington-directed version of "Jeremy" here. Also, if you love this video, you may want to rent a copy of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's 1962 film "Ivan's Childhood." There are quite a few visuals in this film that are incredibly similar to Pellington's version of "Jeremy." Flip the tape.

SIDE TWO: I always felt that the B side of this tape (Yes, I AM that old) was the more sensual, underrated side of Ten. Okay, so I definitely excerpted "Oceans" for the quote in my high school yearbook, but don't let that deter you from enjoying a truly lovely song about a boy and his surfboard. I love its Led Zeppelin-tinged sound, so dreamy.

"Porch" was actually my favorite track off Ten for a little while. PJ performed a terrific version of this song on their "MTV Unplugged..." some of you may remember when Eddie Vedder jumped on top of his stool as the band wailed on this tune, and teetered up in the air while scrawling "PRO-CHOICE" on his arm with a black marker. This is actually quite remarkable when you consider our current post-Janet Jackson "Nipplegate" pop culture where hardly anything truly spontaneous happens on TV anymore; "Garden" and "Deep" are both emotionally immersing experiences, full of angst while stroking our need for catharsis...both have powerful choruses that just plain feel good to belt out.

"Release" is the quiet storm of the record, a slow cookin' jam that I find sexy, moving and emblematic of the attractive vulnerability of the Eddie Vedder persona at the time. I think what the Scott Stapps of the world missed about Eddie Vedder's charisma was that he didn't think of himself as a god (there's even a PJ bootleg called "No F$#kin' Messiah!"), but as an angry, mixed-up kid. Like all the rest of us.

Pearl Jam's "Ten" also had the bonus tracks "Wash" and "Dirty Frank" that could only be found on the UK/German imports. "Wash" is my shizz. It is one of my top five fave PJ songs by far. It is down and dirty sex. Download yourself a copy. "Dirty Frank" is a fun riff on Red Hot Chili Peppers-style funk, if somewhat un-PC; hence, fun. On Japanese import only was their cover of The Beatles' "I've Got A Feeling," which I love so much that it will appear in its own "Baby I Love Your Way" column here on Damn The Man.

Enough dancing about architecture...Pearl Jam videos!! Enjoy:

Pearl Jam - Porch (MTV Unplugged)

Pearl Jam - Jeremy (Alternate Version of Video)

Pearl Jam - Black (MTV Unplugged)

Pearl Jam - Wash (1991 - Live at Tower Records, Yonkers, NY [My Hometown!!Y.O. Represent!])

Someone in the comments to the video of Pearl Jam at the Tower in my town totally feels me: "Goddamn I used to love that store." Tower Records in Yonkers was a mecca to disaffected youth of all stripes for the entirety of the 90's. It no longer exists (although with other Yonkers freak hangouts like Rockin' Rex...), but is sorely missed. This PJ video blows my mind. You couldn't have told me they played in Yonkers. I can't believe I missed this show.

The Shawshank Redemption of Mainstream Cinema: Father of the Bride (1991)


Like Duke Ellington, I'm in a sentimental mood since I'm officially a Missus as of today...Fiance and I did the deed in fine assembly line fashion at the Old Orange County Courthouse, along with at least twenty other couples. Some would find the "marriage factory" atmosphere of the courthouse somewhat off-putting, but me being a Capricorn, I loved the communality of the experience and the clinical filling out of forms. You sign, I sign, done.

Well, we're actually having a ceremony with more pomp and circumstance back East in a week, and thinking about the year-plus long planning process (and subsequent nervous breakdowns) involuntarily makes me think of one of my undercover favorite films of the 90's, "Father of the Bride."

I say "undercover" because some may remember this Steve Martin-starring remake of the 1950 film of the same name (which starred Spencer Tracy and my personal fave, Elizabeth Taylor) as goopy and saccharine in its unrelenting corniness. If you don't have a heart, this may indeed be true. But for the rest of us, one of Steve Martin's last genuinely touching film performances (in the grouchy yet caring Dad role he played in the more acerbic 1989 film "Parenthood"), Kimberly Williams's (a Westchester girl--from Rye, NY!) lovely innocence as his daughter, Diane Keaton (who just has to show up to be great), and Martin Short's hilarious gay wedding planner Franck, make this film a genuine pleasure to sit back and escape into. I don't think there's a day that's passed since I started planning my own wedding that I didn't have Martin Short's voice in my head intoning, "Armani don't make a blue tux-ado!"

This movie touched me because as a young girl who was just attempting to form her conception of her own personal future, this film was a veritable fever dream of wishful thinking when it came to the perfect wedding. My actual wedding reality is somewhat far off from Father of the Bride's construct of the contemporary wedding, but all the attendant shock,confusion, nostalgia and finally, euphoria is universal.

I have other stuff to tell you, and since I'm the little woman now, I have to cook dinner, so I'll just leave you with a clip of this fine 90's movie to tide you over 'til the next wedding that you have to attend:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Upcoming Show: Candlebox at Irving Plaza, NYC, December 12, 2008

As a burgeoning punk rock girl, I secretly loved Candlebox in the 90's. They were on the 2nd tier of popular "grunge" inflected rock bands, kind of alongside bands like Silverchair and Blind Melon. Famous, but not as well respected as Nirvana or Pearl Jam. There was a reason for this too: Even more heavily derivative than the top tier of 90's bands, these bands often lacked their own original voice, seeming cookie-cutter-ish and juvenile. But when "Far Behind" played, I swooned like a geisha in an opium den. What a crackin' tune. In fact, their self-titled 1993 record contained quite a few listenable songs, including "Far Behind," "You," "Change," and "Cover Me." There was something unfashionably hair band-flavored about Candlebox, and I liked it. If you know what I'm talking about, check them out in NYC on the 12th if you're on the East Coast.

Here are a couple of videos for songs off of their debut album, Candlebox (1993). You're going to enjoy this, believe me:

Candlebox - Far Behind (1993)

Candlebox - You (1993)

You're welcome.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The 90's Loves Comments!

I just want to take the time to thank all of you who stop by my page and hang out in the 90's...I really appreciate it. Please remember that I welcome comments, especially constructive and/or positive ones! To the Anonymous fellow who felt that my review of the recent Smashing Pumpkins show was whiny, you should come to my house sometime with some cheese! You ain't heard nothing yet!! If you were there, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. The great thing about this blog is that it is MINE, and you will hear my honest opinion on things. If you like it, welcome. If you don't, WHATEVER, as Cher from Clueless would say. There's lots more to come in 90's culture on Damn The Man, Save The Empire, so stay tuned!

See You At The Show: Smashing Pumpkins at the Gibson Ampitheatre, Universal City, CA - December 3, 2008


First off, let me just say that the above photo is no longer accurate, as D'arcy and James Iha are no longer in the band. So there's that. Then, as far as the show do I say this nicely? OK, you've seen "This Is Spinal Tap," I take it? Yes. Especially the "Jazz Odyssey" part? Exactly.

This show was an audacious shambles. It was especially dispiriting considering Billy Corgan's still-apparent talent. A.) He's a lovely singer, who brought the audience to tears with his rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" early on in the set. B.) He's a tirelessly excellent guitarist, who can and will bust out any style you want on that thing. C.) Those SONGS! The man's got songwriting chops that he flat-out refused to show us after a sprinkling of hits at the beginning. He pulled a bait-and-switch, and we're not happy about it.

Here's what he did play: He started off quite nice and strange with "Ava Adore," dressed to the Halloween hilt in a long black cossack-style robe and a pumpkin basket full of glitter to shower on the front row. He had some little kids with baskets to help him onstage as well. The whole show had a very bizarre flavor due to Corgan's eccentricities and "piss off" attitude. This is not as cool as it sounds. He also managed to eke out "1979," "Disarm," "Cherub Rock," "Landslide," and a spectacular "Zero," which is clearly one of his best songs.

That sounds great, right? Well, subtract that half-hour from almost three hours of playing and a disgruntled 90's baby you will find. Billy Corgan and his massive band (he had at least 7-8 people onstage at any given time, and it seemed to swell to almost 12 during some of the more symphonic arrangements) cycled through every prog rock band you can think of, plus a couple of other styles for good measure, with nary a Smashing Pumpkins tune in sight. It was like being at a Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Yes, ELO, Fela Kuti (yes, there was some Afrobeat in there), Bad Company, Paul Simon, and King Crimson show all at the same time. Plus, add some musical theater in there with some kind of weird arrangement of "Little Red Riding Hood" (complete with embarrassing wolf howls) and I'm reaching for my revolver.

Now, if this sounded cool, like TV On The Radio's 2006 "Return To Cookie Mountain" album, then this might be excusable. But this was nothing but out and out wankery. And it was boring. People were literally bailing out during the set, or, if they stuck around, they were yawning and falling asleep. Not cool.

Here are some videos for some Smashing Pumpkins songs that I would have liked to hear. Enjoy them instead of wasting good money in this recession on this hot tranny mess of a live show:

Smashing Pumpkins - Today (from their 1993 album, Siamese Dream)

Smashing Pumpkins - Siva (from their 1991 album, Gish)

Smashing Pumpkins - Drown (Live at Chicago Metro, 1992 - from the 1992 Singles soundtrack)

Smashing Pumpkins - Glynis (live; from the 1993 compilation record, No Alternative)

Smashing Pumpkins - Blue (from their 1994 B-sides compilation, Pisces Iscariot)

Smashing Pumpkins - Stand Inside Your Love (from their 2000 album, Machina/The Machines of God)

I hate to go off like this, but I felt he really did a disservice to his fans last night. Billy Corgan went off on how, the last he checked, he wasn't anybody's bitch, and even berated a guy for asking the band to play "1979" again. Some gullible, corny older rock guy standing behind me and my fiance was like, "Well, you can't tell an artist what to do." No, you certainly can't, but it is also the responsibility of the artist to stay in tune with his audience and show them respect, since they slapped their hard-earned money down for a ticket and all. I just found the show and Billy Corgan rather inauthentic, barring fleeting moments of genius. That is all.

Movies You Might Have Missed: Spanking The Monkey

SPANKING THE MONKEY (1994) - dir. David O. Russell

This 1994 film still makes people uncomfortable. It was nearly impossible to find a picture of the poster, let alone stills from the movie, so this article will go without glossy screencaps for you to ogle.

I saved the best for last, 90's babies: Jeremy Davies is one of my favorite actors from the 90's. I cannot tell you how overjoyed I was when he was recently added to the cast of "Lost," one of my current television obsessions. He is as terrific there as he is in nearly every role he takes on, even in ones he's bad in, like Charlie Manson, a role in which he was still terrific. Let me explain.

Jeremy often brings the creepy. He's actually quite a handsome, if skinny, boy, hence the acting. But he can be creepy. Sometimes, he's so creeptastic in a role, it can go way overboard into cheesy silliness (Manson). But when he's good, he's really good, especially as a henpecked medical student in Spanking The Monkey.

This film is famous for being the "incest movie." And it is. But it's also a very well-written and directed film with incredible nuance and sensitivity, which is amazing considering that director David O. Russell is not known for either of those in his real life (ask Lily Tomlin). The plot is simple: A young medical student is forced to turn down a summer internship in order to take care of his bedridden mother (who has broken her leg) while his salesman father goes away on business. Fair enough. But stuff goes down between mother and son, and well, you know, incest.

Jeremy Davies is remarkable in this role simply for underplaying his character's obvious angst, alienation and confusion. He's creepy but he's accessible to the viewer as well. He hadn't yet perfected the twitchy, spastic performances he would later become known for, so we're free to enjoy this character's torment just through his dark eyes and pained grimace.

Please enjoy the first 9 minutes or so of the film. If you are David O. Russell or Fine Line, please don't sue me. I love you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Shawshank Redemption of Mainstream Cinema: That Thing You Do (1996)

THAT THING YOU DO! (1996) - dir. Tom Hanks

Tom Hank's 1996 directorial debut "That Thing You Do!" is like manna from heaven to a rock music geek like me. It's a thoroughly-scrubbed but still fascinating and highly entertaining look at 60's rock music culture in the wake of Beatlemania and the explosion of girl groups, and the continued success of pop singers like Gene Pitney and Lesley Gore. At the center of a fine group of performances (as The Wonders, a Beatles-style band formed in Erie, PA) by actors like Tom Everett Scott (Tom Hanks's not-so-Mini-Me), Jonathan Shaech, Damn The Man's mascot Ethan Embry, Liv Tyler (in a heartbreaking role as Jonathan's girlfriend and the band's #1 Fan), and even bit parts by Charlize Theron and Giovanni Ribisi, stands Steve Zahn's energetic and sweet performance as the guitarist "Lenny," who just wants to play music and wants no part in the band's politics and personal snafus. He's kind of the optimistic, playful heart of the band, and it's a wonderful performance by an actor who is much more talented than his roles would sometimes have you believe.

Steve Zahn's performance in "That Thing You Do" is a sharp contrast to his role as a traumatized POW in "Rescue Dawn;" in fact, these characters are psychic opposites, but provide a nice glimpse into this fine actor's range. His ability to easily elicit joy, sympathy and grief in audiences is astounding. His role in That Thing You Do is a bit smaller than some in the rest of the cast, but he exuberantly and hilariously supports the ensemble, as is evidenced here in the trailer:

Please see this little gem of a film if you haven't already. If you are a Steve Zahn fan who hasn't caught up to this film, Netflix now. Here's a part of the "That Thing You Do" reunion interview featuring Steve Zahn:

The Shawshank Redemption of Mainstream Cinema: Little Women (1994)

LITTLE WOMEN (1994) - dir. Gillian Armstrong

Period films are some of my favorite films, but they can be mucked up pretty easily in the care of an unsure director. Luckily, 1994's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's 19th century novel "Little Women" had Australian director Gillian Armstrong (whose own career saw a 90's height with 1997's great film "Oscar and Lucinda," starring Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett) guiding its cast and crew, and the result, IMHO, is a holiday classic. It is also late-night bedroom pornography for teenage girls everywhere because of its inclusion of Christian Bale in the cast as Theodore Laurence, friend and neighbor to those incorrigible March sisters.

Christian Bale was already a sensation among ladies of all ages for his preteen and teen standout performances in films such as Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" (1987), "Newsies" (1992), and my personal fave, "Swing Kids" (1993), which put an oh-so-very-wrong veneer on teenage crush daydreaming, what with the Nazi theme and all. But "Little Women" was the clincher for me and many other women, I'm sure. Though Bale is now known for "brooding intensity" and quite an impressive facility with an American accent (see the Christopher Nolan-directed "Batman" franchise), I will always treasure Bale's romantic turn as "Laurie" in Little Women.

The thing about Bale in this film that, in my mind, differs from his acting now, is how vulnerable he was. The scene where Laurie first declares his love for Winona Ryder's Jo March, ending in an awkward kiss, is notable both for the fine trickle of spittle that clings to their lips as they pull away, and the heated passion that Bale brings. There was no doubt how this cat felt about this stupid girl who rejects him in the end for an admittedly sexy, but quite older Gabriel Byrne. Somewhere in her heart, Jo March regretted her choice, I know it. Christian Bale truly upped his value as an actor by including "romantic lead" on his resume. Check it out:

When 90's Actors Collide: "Rescue Dawn"

RESCUE DAWN (2007) - Featuring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies

Yesterday I watched American film director Jonathan Demme interview German (or Bavarian, as he explained that he prefers in the interview) film director Werner Herzog on one of the special features of Herzog's strange and wonderful 2007 documentary about Anarctica, "Encounters at the End of the World." They discussed Herzog's terrific 2007 narrative film "Rescue Dawn" in depth, and it occurred to me that I had a Damn The Man moment on my hands.

I quite enjoyed the film "Rescue Dawn," and besides my love for the highly eccentric Werner Herzog, this movie also contains three formidable actors who found their strides in the 90's: Christian Bale, Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies. For the next few posts, I will talk about a favorite 90's film featuring each one of these actors.

Since "Rescue Dawn" is not a 90's film, I won't go on about it, except to say that if you haven't seen it, do. It is a very moving film based on Herzog's 1997 documentary, "Little Dieter Needs To Fly", which profiled Dieter Dengler, a German-American pilot. Rescue Dawn features a startling dramatic performance by a normally comedic actor, Steve Zahn. It is truly a shame that they didn't throw awards at this guy for his acting in this film. Check out the trailer, folks:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Upcoming Show: Smashing Pumpkins at the Gibson Ampitheatre, Universal City, CA - December 2 and 3

Smashing Pumpkins are playing the Gibson Ampitheatre at Universal City in Cali TODAY and TOMORROW. Sorry that I was slow on the uptake on that, but the tryptophan from the Thanksgiving turkey is still coursing through my system.

As we 90's fans all know, Smashing Pumpkins were huge. They HAD to be spoken about in the same breath as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I have not seen them play live yet, so I am really curious as to what Billy Corgan's going to bring to these sets. He was famous back then for having an iron hand grip on the band, to the extent of playing all the instruments on the records, and eschewing songwriting input from fellow band members. He thought he was the jam, basically. From hearing from those people who have already seen this 20th anniversary tour, this may not be the case.

Barring what's happening with this band today, they were an innovative and often hard-driving band with some admittedly killer tunes under their belt. The entirety of 1991's "Gish" is an excellent driving record (I figured out many a problem by jumping in my car and blasting this album); 1993's "Siamese Dream" was an instant rock classic with "Cherub Rock," "Disarm," and the perennial "Today"; 1995's concept album-ish "Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness" was somewhat indulgent and bloated, but boasted some barn-burner tracks like "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," "Zero," "1979," and my favorite, "Thirty-Three." This kind of track record is not to be underestimated. See them if you can.

Here's some videos for songs off of each of their 90's albums:

Smashing Pumpkins - I Am One from their 1991 album, Gish

Smashing Pumpkins - Quiet (Live in Atlanta 1993) from their 1993 album, Siamese Dream

Smashing Pumpkins - Thirty-Three from their 1995 album, Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness

Smashing Pumpkins - Zero from 1995's Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness

Smashing Pumpkins - Ava Adore from their 1998 album, Adore

And for you fans of hardcore out there:

Evergreen Terrace - Zero (Live in Toronto) from their 2004 album, Writer's Block

Upcoming Show: Butthole Surfers at Warsaw, Brooklyn, NY, December 12, 2008*

The Butthole Surfers have been around since the early 80's, but they never really caught mainstream success until the release of their 1996 record, "Electric Larryland," which contained the weird, surreal, yet immensely hummable tune, "Pepper." I wanted to mention their December 12 show in New York because The Buttholes have been coming up time and again for me lately. The Butthole Surfers are mentioned as quite an obvious influence on The Flaming Lips in their 2005 documentary, "The Fearless freaks"; and, as a result of The Big Dig at my parent's house over the Thanksgiving break, I found a copy of Michael Azerrad's fabulous book called "Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991," which features quite an informative section on the Butthole Surfers long history as a band and the influence that they've had on other successful rock bands.

Though "Pepper" was an amusingly Beck-esque radio airplay diversion, I knew who the Buttholes were before through their 1993 record " Independent Worm Saloon," and especially the frenetic single, "Who Was In My Room Last Night?" I loved this song because it was kinda crazy and had near-industrial levels of noise in it, which was required listening for a 90's teenager like myself. Enjoy:

Butthole Surfers - Who Was In My Room Last Night? (1993)

Butthole Surfers - Pepper (1996)

Gibby Haynes is pretty awesome.

*CORRECTION: This post originally stated that the December 12 Butthole Surfers show would be at Irving Plaza. Damn The Man is sorry about the error.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Shawshank Redemption of Mainstream Cinema: Home For The Holidays (1995)

I have been busy all day and have not yet had the pleasure of watching the only Thanksgiving movie that matters: Jodie Foster's 1995 film, "Home For The Holidays."

I truly appreciate this film. I just came back from a Thanksgiving gathering that periodically swung from screaming madness to crushing boredom and back again. Real-life family gatherings are often placed on the pain scale just two rungs below 'root canal' yet movies often refuse to acknowledge this. I believe this is from the false Hollywood belief that viewers aren't entertained by grim reality; they go to movies to escape it. To me, nothing is more entertaining than acknowledging that you can't stand your estranged sister's judgment of your entire life, from your sexual orientation to your job (or lack thereof), you fear your aging mother's increasing dottiness (that'll be you someday), and no, I don't have a job right now, thank you very much. I'm fine, Mom. Don't make me wear the puffy coat.

There is so much that is genius to this film, from the quietly brilliant screenplay, to the relaxed, believable and often incredibly funny actors, especially my boy Robert Downey, Jr. As we all know, Robert Downey, Jr. is a man who will climb in your window and curl up in bed next to you, if given enough barbituates. But he's also a man who can make me laugh so hard one minute, then I'm tearing up the next. So he can stay. Tommy, Holly Hunter's gay brother, is one of Downey's best roles, IMHO. It is such a finely tuned performance, it almost doesn't seem like acting, it just feels like Downey playing around. But Tommy is a terrific role that calls for him to externalize the conflict within a beloved and entertaining, but misunderstood gay peg in a (very) straight family. He's just utterly human, not the cliche of the gay family member in alot of movies. I look forward to seeing his hilariously touching performance every time I pop in this film.

I don't want to downplay the other great performances in this film, including Holly Hunter, who is great as the put-upon single Mom who is still hot enough to hook up with a totally dishy Dylan McDermott in her parent's house like it was 1978; the late, great Anne Bancroft and her lovely wig; Cynthia Stevenson, who is spot-on as the prissy, uptight and angry-as-hell conservative sister who resents her siblings' less-structured, more bohemian lifestyles. I roll every time they pour the stuffing of the turkey on her head. Even Steve Guttenberg puts in a nice appearance as Cynthia Stevenson's stuffy but generally good husband for whom "cash is king." Claire Danes was at the height of her "My So-Called Life"-fueled hotness; I would watch this girl in anything back then. I was glued to the screen as she spent half her screen time dying a slow death in 1994's 'Little Women." She was not as good as we all thought, but she is very 90's, being Angela Chase and all, so part of me loves her.

Enough talk. Watch this film every Thanksgiving from now on. You're welcome.

(If yr at work, beware of cursing dysfunctional family members. Keep the volume of the clip low.)

I love when they pour the stuffing on her head. Really.

The Flaming Lips - Christmas on Mars November 11 Flux Cinema Tuesdays Screening Review

I have to interrupt Thanksgiving for a moment to talk about Christmas...ON MARS! If you weren't aware, The Flaming Lips is still a band. "She Don't Use Jelly" is NOT their only song, and Wayne Coyne, the suave and savvy frontman of the group, has been making a film for the past 5 years or so, and it's done. Yayyy!! I was lucky enough to go to the Flux Cinema Tuesdays November 11 screening of the film at The Montalban theater on Vine St. in Los Angeles, in celebration of the DVD release that same day.

This screening was like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: it was beyond my imagination. It was a wonderland of arrested development and I loved it. Want a party done right? Ask the Flaming Lips to plan it for you. Not only did a buncha folks come decked out in the themes of the film (y'know...Christmas, Mars, Christmas, M--you get the idea), but once we surmounted the very long line to get in, it was an orgy of free candy, popcorn, soda, and booze. Perfect for a sugar-addicted, cheapo woman-child like me.

I mean, look at these costumes! They're absolutely fabulous. It is a real testament to how devoted Flaming Lips fans are. You know that boring bit of time you have to waste before a movie screening starts? The excruciating forced eavesdropping on insipid conversations? Gnawing on that flavorless, stale gum you found at the bottom of your bag? Mindless flipping through the latest Entertainment Weekly with the cast of "High School Musical 3" on the cover? This was not a problem at this shindig.

Even Wayne was like, dang, you guys went all out.

Now on to what you really want to know: is "Christmas on Mars" any good? Your 90's-ologist readily admits a jaundiced film school-trained eye that loves to pierce newbie celebrity filmmakers where the sun doesn't shine for making me sit through their indulgent cinematic torments. But that won't be happening today. Especially since Scott or Rick may read this, and I really want an interview with the band, you guys, if you're reading. Hi. No really, I was definitely charmed and even moved by Wayne Coyne's screenwriting and directorial debut.

There's Christmas, and y'know, Mars, but there's also birth, death, the existential question ("why are we here?" not "what's good on TV tonight?"), and other assorted Big Themes. I am a sucker for the Big Themes, and I loved the way Wayne executes a delightful melding of "Logan's Run"-ish sci-fi camp, experimental techniques, and good old-fashioned Kubrickian dread. Alot of this is possible with the help of great cinematography by Brad Beesley, who also directed the awesome 2005 documentary about The Lips, "The Fearless Freaks." See that film if you know nothing about the band, it's illuminating.

I won't ruin this review by telling you exactly what goes on in this weird and gooey little film, especially since half the pleasure of watching it is talking back to the screen at the action, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style. I will tell you that Wayne Coyne appeared at the screening for a Q&A, which he gracefully conducted in that room full of freaky fans, and once again reaffirming my love for gentlemen with salt-and-pepper hair:

I highly recommend checking this DVD out if you are a Lips fan. Though not required, mind-altering substances are encouraged for viewing:

Santa approves.

Bye now!

HAPPY TURKEY DAY!! Grandma Take Me Home!!

I am a little loopy since I just spent almost four hours in the car with my mother, father and brother in the holiday traffic coming from my Grandma's house in Far Rockaway. Oh, the horror.

I know I seem very enthusiastic about pretty much everything here at Damn The Man; I am a fan of the exclamation point. This, however, is a clever illusion: I actually like very little, besides the 90's, and turkeys. I love turkeys. They are an extremely funny-looking, yet oddly beautiful animal, and they taste great too. I watch them walking around with the deer at my parent's house when I make it back here. It's like National Geographic.

One 90's tune that I think of when I think of Thanksgiving is Nirvana's 1990 single "Sliver," which can be found on their 1992 compilation record, "Incesticide." This song was to me a really accurate and poignant summation of what it's like to be a little kid and forced to attend awkward family gatherings or get dropped off at a relative's house against your will. As someone with a very large and loud extended family who regularly met at Grandma's, it seemed, to torture me and my brother (we're not the most extroverted folks), I could totally relate. Enjoy your second helping of Thanksgiving dinner:

Nirvana - Sliver (1990)

Speaking of Nirvana, please be sure to check out The Foo Fighters on the Thanksgiving episode of "Top Chef" on Bravo! Dave Grohl provides my new favorite quote on this show: "Did someone offend the S'mores guy? Because I think he spit on mine."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Soundtrack of Your Life: Madder Rose - "Panic On"

I am super-thankful for being on vacay on the East Coast at my parent's house, and one of the primary reasons I tore myself away from L.A. was to come back and go through all the stuff I left in my parent's basement. It's been there three years and counting, and since I'm getting married soon, I may become an adult any day now and have my own house to store crap in soon. Hence, the dig.

Well, the dig went really well, and there's TONS of 90's fodder for you Damn The Man! fans!! One blessing that fell upon me is the wonder of my CD collection. All of my music in California is MP3s, because, as we all know, you don't buy CDs anymore unless you're someone who really can't let go. But, lemme tell ya, CDs are great. Or really, MY CDs are great.

Madder Rose's "Panic On" (1994) glared out at me from a mix CD a very loving and organized friend of mine gave me once upon a time, from a computer-printed playlist neatly folded in the case. "Panic On" is the type of song that the bygone MTV show "120 Minutes" was created for, and for which I stealthily sat up until midnight to watch on Sunday nights before school. I was always groggy as hell the next day, but as a budding music geek, I was very happy. Madder Rose kind of shared a sound with other "120 Minutes"-friendly bands like Helium, Lush, Velocity Girl and My Bloody Valentine; that shoegazer, fuzz-pop sound that I am terribly fond of.

Madder Rose was a NYC band, and I unfortunately never got the chance to get as familiar with the rest of their catalog back then like I did Mazzy Star's or The Sundays or some band like that, but "Panic On" is perennial. It had the female-fronted goodness of those bands, but it plays like the tear in the throat of every skinny geek-boy and girl who ever crushed on someone they could never really have, like Brian Krakow did over Angela Chase on "My So-Called Life." My nascent love life was full of these crushes, so I needed these songs to soothe my bruised little heart every time a boy with a guitar or greasy hipster haircut ignored me. Or used me. Enjoy:

Madder Rose - "Panic On" from the 1994 album, Panic On

By the way, Madder Rose broke up in 1999, and frontwoman Mary Lorson went on to form the band Saint Low, which was also on the aforementioned thoughtfully organized mixtape, and you should also check it out. This video's from September 2007, Saint Low opening for Nanci Griffith in Ithaca, NY:

Mary Lorson & Saint Low - State Theater, Ithaca, NY - September 11, 2007

See You At The Show: The Breeders at the Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA - November 17, 2008


First things first: Kim and Kelley Deal are twins, and they're cute. Like rilly, RILLY cute. When I looked up some of the Breeders' videos on YouTube, someone left a comment saying that he never realized how incredibly attracted he was to Kim Deal, and how she kind of became a template for what he thought was hot in a girl. Not a bad template when these ladies are funny, smart and can totally rock out.

They played nearly every great song in their catalog, heavy on 1993's "Last Splash" album, including "Cannonball" right up front, the third or fourth song of the set. Kim's gained a little weight, so she looks like someone's really MILF-y lookin' Midwestern mommy rocking on her guitar while the kids are at practice. And if you wanted to remember what she looked like in the 90's, you just looked over at Kelley, who still looks pretty much the same. It was pretty funny.

What also hasn't changed is the dynamic of the band: the men and tangential woman (Jose Medeles on drums, Mando Lopez on bass, and Cheryl Lyndsey on the excellent third guitar attack) hold down the fort, while the Deal twins beguile with their lovely girly-woman voices, persistent sibling rivalry-flavored banter, and guitar (and a one-time violin) un-skills. In fact, I love that Kim is still, ostensibly, the talented one, while Kelley is kind of along for the ride and only knows how to play their songs on whatever her instrument might be, like the violin she bravely plucked on for "Driving on 9," one of my faves from Last Splash. "Divine Hammer" was sublime; it almost made me cry for my lost Nineties youth. What was really incredible was the kind of aural power that the band still holds, the loud-soft-loud-soft technique kind of proving why it was so in vogue in the 90's. It's really effective, and seeing The Breeders made me wish I had the chance to see every band I loved back then.

"Cannonball" was performed perfectly, including the "AAA-UURRGGHHH!!!" megaphone call at the beginning of the song, and the only thing left would have been to have the video cheesily playing along in the background. But this was not that kind of show. In fact, Kim Deal asked at one point if there was anyone in the hall that was NOT a personal friend of theirs, since it seems like there were an awful lot of people on the guest list...not exactly a comeback tour, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

They also played their "classy" cover of The Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun," (Kim: "We know a Beatles song, so we're classy...") which mesmerized, especially with Kelley on the lead vocal intoning "happiness is a warm gun," over and over in that awesome pretty/creepy baby voice, and "Iris," off of the 1993 compilation, "No Alternative," which I was really psyched to see them play, since I nearly broke the cassette tape of that comp back in the day (a post will be forthcoming on that). Overall, a wonderfully 90's evening it was for all of us.

The Breeders - Cannonball (1993)

They performed this song too. I love this song and video. Why are music video directors (not to mention the bands) so boring these days?

The Breeders - Saints (1993)

This is like a very weird incomplete clip of "Iris," but it's kind of cool because it shows Kim talking, she's really young here...this song is originally from their 1990 record "Pod," when Tanya Donnelly (of Throwing Muses and, later on, the immensely popular 90's band Belly) was still in the band. There she is, the blonde. This is fun, I've never seen it before:

Awesome Pavement Contest in Celebration of Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Expanded Edition Reissue on December 9

Matador Records is reissuing the seminal 90's indie-rock band Pavement's 1997 album, "Brighten The Corners," and in honor of this momentous occasion they're having what seems like a lame contest at the outset, but then you think about it, and then it's kinda rad: A $500 giftcard from IKEA and a shopping trip to the Swedish furniture mavens near you with a member of Pavement! Get excited!! This is a very cool offer, especially for those indie-rock loving, broke-arsed college students that you know. All you have to do is submit a photo of your hovel that needs an extreme makeover, as well as an essay describing why the muck and mire of said hovel has got to go, to the Pavement fans group on imeem. The deadline is December 6, and the winner will be announced on December 9, the day that "Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition" is issued. Good luck with that!

I leave you with the tune "Date With IKEA," off Brighten The Corners, that gave Matador and imeem this big contest idea:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Protest 8 in LA: Nov 15th

Protest 8 in LA: Nov 15th

Those of you who do check in to my blog may have noticed that the content often turns toward the political. I try not to browbeat anyone, because to each his own, and this blog is about having fun and remembering good times, but if there's anything the 90's instilled in me, it's that it's important not to be apathetic about the way that your world is being formed. If the Powers That Be are handing down some truly irrational, and, not to mention, unconstitutional nonsense in your community, speak up! It is your right to be heard by those that are given the power to determine YOUR rights. Democracy now!

If you were also kinda bummed out inside the day that the Obama Nation was born because of the seemingly imminent passage of Prop 8 (which will amend the state constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to that between a man and a woman, overturning the current legality of homosexual marriage in CA), never fear! Protest is here!! Please join the National No 0n Prop 8 Protest tomorrow, Saturday, November 15. I'm just hearing about this myself, but we're just in time. I love a good protest in the morning, so I will be down at L.A. City Hall at 10:30 am with bells on!! Here is some national info on a No on Prop 8 protest near you, and here is some State of California-oriented info. I believe that Prop 8 is a hateful, deplorable initiative, now with the extra-crunchy flavor against those damn churchgoin', homophobic black people that voted yes. It certainly couldn't have been the 22 million funded by the Mormon Church that was spent on Yes on 8 propaganda that could have swayed votes, could it? But finger-pointing gets us nowhere. This is about equality under the law. That should be enough to pull us away from our breakfast cereal tomorrow morning and on our feet for the cause. I hope I see you there!

Upcoming Show: The Breeders at The Wiltern, Los Angeles, November 17, 2008

Hey there 90's fans!! Some of you may have noticed the lag in activity at Ye Olde Nineties blog, and for that I'm sorry. I haven't left you guys hanging though; in fact, I am very happy to alert you guys to The Breeders' show at the Wiltern in Los Angeles on Monday. If you are anywhere approaching the age of 30, you remember 1993. And more importantly, you remember when the single "Cannonball" from their 1993 album "Last Splash" blew up. That video with the rad cutaways to Jim Macpherson wailing on the drum kit (sadly, he is no longer the drummer...his path eventually led him to one of my true 90's obsessions, Ohio indie-rock stalwarts Guided By Voices), the weird yet beautiful twin sisters, Kim and Kelley Deal, and "the bong in this reggae song." You loved it. I know it's totally not cool to fixate on the commercially successful record from a band with indie roots, but whatevs. I love Last Splash, especially for one of the most heart-achingly poignant summer songs ever written, "Divine Hammer." Please enjoy them with me on Monday if you will be in the L.A. Metro area.

The Breeders - "Divine Hammer" (1993)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I'm sorry to the two of my friends that were McCain supporters, but I just finished watching Barack Obama give his first speech as President-Elect, and all I have to say is: PSYCHED. I am truly psyched and shocked and grateful and speechless at this smashing victory for Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and the citizens of the United States of America. The ideals of freedom and liberty that Obama mentioned in his speech are ones that I also share deeply. I am the child of a U.S. History and Economics teacher, and I learned to respect and aim for the excellence that is outlined in the ideals in the Constitution from when I was in diapers. Barack Obama is the face of a new America, one that is not hampered by stale notions of ability based on color, creed, or political association, but unites us all together as Americans under the same want: to freely achieve the Dream of a life lived in pursuit of peace and prosperity. I'm just jazzed. That is all.


Happy Election Day! The 90's wants you to Rock The Vote!

In the 90's, it was all about "Rock The Vote..." If you love this country like I do, and value your role as an upstanding citizen in a democratic society, then indulge in your right to vote!! And this being the United States of America, there is no better incentive than free ice cream and coffee! If you bring your "I Voted" sticker to Ben and Jerry's and Starbucks today, they'll give you a free scoop of ice cream and a tall order of coffee, respectively. For more information you ice cream addicts, click here. Coffeeholics, click here.

Please also check out the wonderful site Ballotpedia which will help you sort out all those damn propositions and judicial nominees on your ballot. I, poli sci geek that I am, was totally jazzed to find out about this site, so I hope that it helps you.

Check out the polling site for electoral projections. This will come in handy if you are anything like me, and will be having tiny little heart attacks all day checking for the election results. The website Real Clear Politics is good for obsessive poll checking too.

Full disclosure: I have a Political Science degree, and elections are like the Super Bowl for me, and with this election, considering its incredible historical implications, today is Christmas Day in my mind. I hope that you enjoy the day like I will, regardless of whom you choose to be your next President!

BARACK THE VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

See You At The Show: Cypress Hill's Haunted Hill Halloween Concert at the Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA - October 31, 2008

There are those of you who have been wanting to know what I thought of the Cypress Halloween show at the Wiltern this past Friday. Since I'm already a tad preoccupied with thoughts of the election dancing in my head, I can sum up my reaction in one image:

If this is not enough, I can say that I was duly impressed, especially since I expected something far more cartoonish and pop out of these guys. Cypress is hardcore, so let's just get that out of the way. Second, they're consummate performers. They reminded me quite a bit of Public Enemy actually, a thought affirmed once Sen Dog busted out a bit of Public Enemy (I'm sorry, I did not note which song, because I was not myself, let's just say), sounding just like Chuck D. All the members of Cypress Hill are terrific drummers as well; they routinely broke down songs on the bongos and drum set, which was highly visually and aurally entertaining.

They did every song that you expected to hear, including "Insane in the Membrane," "How I Could Just Kill a Man," "Cock The Hammer," "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That," "Hits From The Bong," and "Rock Superstar," the last of which was enhanced by the very rad audience with someone down front unfurling a flag and waving it to and fro, "Les Miserables" style. Believe me, if you've heard the song and were on a totally different planet like the entire audience was, this was very dramatic, like we were leading the troops into the battle for kush.

In fact, I shall leave you with the video of Velvet Revolver and Cypress Hill busting out "Rock Superstar," please enjoy:

Friday, October 31, 2008

HAPPY HALLOWEEN... Stuff for Angelenos to Do on the 90's' Fave Holiday

Your 90's-ologist loves Halloween. I am a big fan of the season of autumn, as many who come from the Northeast are, and Halloween reps autumn quite like no other holiday can (Does Columbus Day do it for you? Methinks not). I even love it as an adult, although it seems once a girl hits puberty, she is relegated to wearing a "sexy" costume, as many a blogger has complained before me, so let's not dwell on it. Let's dwell on what there is for Angelenos to do in the scary city that they call home.

The 90's is very excited for the Haunted Hill concert featuring blunted rappers Cypress Hill at the Wiltern. I will be in attendance, so if you recognize me, don't hesitate to offer treats :-) Check out Live Nation's website to find out more about this probably sold-out gig and get insane in the membrane!

Citysearch has rounded up a lot of cool things to do in Los Angeles, including the West Hollywood Halloween Parade on Santa Monica Boulevard. Apparently, this thing attracts over 300,000 people every year; I will probably swing by and find out tonight myself before Cypress hits the stage.

Next on their list is the HARD Haunted Mansion party,

which is sold out, but looks worth bugging a more famous and fabulous friend to get you on the list for. Pretty much every good dance act that you can think of is playing this event, including Justice, Soulwax, Simian Mobile Disco, Crystal Castles, 2 Many DJ's, DJ AM, and many more into the wee hours, I'm sure. These folks may not be 90's, but the 90's advocates shaking your booty, so find a way to get into this if you have the need for speed, so to speak. Check their very funky website here.

Click here to see the rest of the Citysearch list, which includes Halloween bashes and costume balls on the Queen Mary, Catalina Island, LACMA, and Knott's Berry Farm.

Marilyn Manson, a 90's icon if there ever was one and one of my favorite people ever, is hosting a Halloween bash at The Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard featuring Mixmaster Mike of 90's whiteboy rapper faves The Beastie Boys and DJ Danny Masterson. Yes, Danny Masterson, of one of my favorite late-90's TV shows, "That 70's Show." You know you want to get next to Danny. Go dressed as Jackie and see if he bites. More info here.

This last Halloween party tip that I have for you is a bash that is presented by D.A.S.K. Productions and is celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the 1978 John Carpenter film, "Halloween." It's going to be at the Music Box - Henry Fonda Theater at 6126 Hollywood Blvd. Click here for more info.

I'm going to leave you with some of my favorite Halloween/goth-themed music...Have a BOO-itful night!!

Ministry - Everyday is Halloween (1984)

Type O Negative - Black No. 1 (1993)

The Misfits - Halloween (1981)

Marilyn Manson - Personal Jesus (2004 cover of Depeche Mode's 1990 hit)

And a special treat: