Saturday, February 28, 2009
THE SECRET HANDSHAKE - "I WISH" from the 2008 album, "Punk Goes Crunk"
I ran into this looking for the video for Skee-Lo's 1995 hit single "I Wish" on YouTube. It's a cover by Texan electronic musician Luis Dubuc, who goes by the moniker The Secret Handshake, for the 2008 compilation record "Punk Goes Crunk" on Fearless Records.
I don't know anything about Mr. Handshake, but unlike many hardcore devotees of Skee-Lo on YouTube who felt this was the "white people version" of the song, I thought this was an interesting riff on what was an already languidly atmospheric electronic production. In other words, don't hate on an electro-pop update. Judge for oneself:
Though I agree that this is in no way better than the original, it is fun to imagine T-Pain performing this song in one of those top hats he's into wearing. He's on a boat, mamma-jammas!
SKEE- LO - "I WISH" from the 1995 album of the same name
Your 90's-ologist just had to stop and reminisce about this quintessential mid-90's summer hip-hop hit song. It showed up in the exceedingly silly 2007 film "Ping Pong Playa" that I'm watching as I figure out how to save my sick cactus (don't ask). It brightened my mood instantly.
What alot of people will remember about Californian rapper Skee-lo and this song is the fantastically funny and thoroughly 90's video in which he parodied Forrest Gump sitting on the park bench. Unfortunately, I will not be able to show you that wonderful video personally, but you can and must find it here.
I just remember this song being one of those feel-good tunes that accompanied long, hot summer days and nights, humid with youthful expectation and joy. Please enjoy the song here:
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Just wanted to let all you Angelenos who are bummed about the demise of radio station Indie 103.1 that Damn The Man fave Henry Rollins will continue his radio show, now-entitled "Harmony in my Head," on KCRW Saturdays from 6-8p.m. under a new name beginning March 7. You can still listen to his show on Indie 103's still functioning website, but Henry's jazzed about kicking out the jams live.
You can listen to KCRW online here, where Henry is guest hosting their "Morning Becomes Eclectic" show.
Please watch this rilly hilarious video where Beavis and Butthead watch Rollins Band's video for the 1994 single, "Liar." Cheered me up for today:
Friday, February 20, 2009
GIN BLOSSOMS - HOUSE OF BLUES, HOLLYWOOD, CA - THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2009
It is a testament to the enduring appeal of the Gin Blossoms' brand of perfect pop music that I dragged my road-worn bum out to the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip last night to catch what was an immensely satisfying show. Believe me, after having spent three action-packed days in Vegas and driving the majority of the trip home to L.A., I was ready to pack it in, but I knew I would regret missing one of my very favorite bands from the 90's.
It should be no surprise to those that remember the Gin Blossoms soaring popularity on radio, television and film in the 90's that the band's set relied heavily on their 1992 sophomore album "New Miserable Experience" that brought them to mainstream attention with their Top 40 hit single, "Hey Jealousy."
"Hey Jealousy" was a highlight, along with "Found Out About You," and "Allison Road," which singer Robin Wilson endearingly encouraged the crowd to turn into rapturous singalongs. In fact, Robin was an interesting character to me, seeming to be a 180-degree difference from his sweetly vulnerable long-haired 90's presence to a vaguely cynical, wryly sarcastic fellow dressed in black Mad Max leather jacket and fingerless gloves. After mentioning that the band is signed to a new label (429 Records with the Savoy Jazz Group) and will release a new record this year, they played a lovely new song which I imagine will be named "Miss Disarray" (don't quote me), he joked, "Yeah, that one's going to be big in Japan. Maybe even Indonesia." This predicament is the whole reason that I do Damn The Man...to remind American 90's kids and their offspring that these bands are still out there making wonderful music that deserves to be heard.
The above description of frontman Robin Wilson, btw, is a good thing; Robin has an appealingly sympathetic stage presence that makes you feel as if he is directly communicating to you at all times. He gave high fives to everyone in the front row at the end of the show, which was almost too cute.
The Gin Blossoms also tore through one of Damn The Man's theme songs, "'Til I Hear It From You," off the 1995 Empire Records soundtrack, "Follow You Down" from their 1996 album, "Congratulations...I'm Sorry," (in which Wilson accidentally took out a stage light with his harmonica as he tossed it away behind him) and "Super Girl" from their 2006 album, "Major Lodge Victory."
The band ended with a cover of a song by classic 70's and 80's L.A. pop/rock band, The Plimsouls.
Overall, a good show where the band was in fine form (especially guitarists Jesse Valenzuela and Scott Johnson) and scores of couples in the audience swayed with pleasure to their romantic balladry.
Please enjoy the demo versions of "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You" from their 1989 record, "Dusted." These are great because they're much more punk rock than the popular versions:
Hey 90's fans! Your 90's-ologist is here checking in after a short hiatus helping my fellow blogger Eve at Eve's Apples Lingerie Blog grab some video interviews with lingerie designers and companies at the Curve NV tradeshow in Las Vegas! Head on over to her blog to check out the latest wares from top lingerie designers like Fifi Chachnil, Chantelle, Lejaby and Betsey Johnson, you will not be disappointed.
In our downtime, we had big fun living it up and found ourselves rocking and rolling to DJ Steve Aoki at Tao inside the Venetian Hotel. I highly recommend that if you are in Hollywood, CA TOMORROW, FEB. 21, and you really feel like shaking your booty, that you bounce on over to Giant at the Vanguard at 6021 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. He'll also be appearing at Damn The Man-approved Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 17, so catch Aoki if you can.
Though Aoki is not 90's, Your 90's-ologist is a huge dance music fan and certified basshead, so please enjoy some videos featuring this fine DJ:
By the way, if you are interested in winning a 500 GB hard drive filled with Steve Aoki mixes, get over to URB Magazine and sign up to win!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Don't leave poor Lelaina from "Reality Bites" (1994) hanging. Please subscribe to Damn The Man, Save The Empire! so the poor girl will have something to watch! You can subscribe via email by typing in your email address located in the right sidebar.
You can also subscribe by our RSS reader powered by Feedburner by clicking the big orange button located in the right sidebar. Easy peasy! Thanks for loving the 90's as much as I do, and I promise fun and exciting content almost every day.
Hurry up! Lelaina's got more time to suck!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
DAG - RIGHTEOUS (1994)
Your 90's-ologist really needed to bear down on rewriting a feature script outline yesterday, and some days I need a musical pick-me-up to get in the writing mood. When Dag's debut album "Righteous" funked its way from the speakers to my chair-dancing arse, I knew it was entry time.
Now, I don't like wholesale biting someone else's thoughts on a record, but the Allmusic review of Righteous does a damn concise job:
"Although the notion of white guys playing funk is enough to make a person justifiably skeptical, make no mistake about Dag -- they are the real deal. On Righteous, the band lays down some of the dirtiest, deadliest grooves this side of George Clinton, and do so with great restraint and respect for the genre. The tunes are peppered with vintage synths, horns, and imaginative lead guitar, not to mention catchy hooks, while vocalist Bobby Patterson possesses a falsetto that could make Prince envious (as heard on the gorgeous title track). Dag's strength is their commitment to funk; unlike bands who use funk as a gimmick or try to fuse it with other styles, these guys play it pure. Highly recommended."
Yup. These white boys could funk. Not like lame jamband, guitar noodling, hippie-butt-thrust funk, but nasty, slobbering, STANK FUNK. Like, Prince would approve.
But, as always, don't take my word for it...enjoy:
Dag - Righteous (City Pain)
I highly recommend you click here for the video for "Righteous." White boys. I'm saying. Love the 90's, great time for music.
Dag - Even So
Dag - Home
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Cher and Tai of "Clueless" (1995) would both totally like to remind you that we, like, way encourage comments here at Damn The Man, 'kay? So don't be a total Barney and, whoa, like, hit me up on my pager sometime! I'm Audi 5000!
GIRLS ROCK!(2008) directed by Arne Johnson and Shane King
OMG, I usually try to be the proper journalist and wait until after I've finished a film before I review it, but the documentary "Girls Rock!" is too special to lollygag. Think "Rock School" but more kick-ass!
"Girls Rock!" tells the story of 8-18 year old girls attending the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, OR. I had to step on letting you know about this film because if you're a fan of 90's rock, especially 90's Riot Grrls and female rockers like Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill, Kim Deal of The Breeders, PJ Harvey, Sleater-Kinney and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, as well as the girl-empowerment politics of the time, this is the film for you.
"Girls Rock!" embodies the strongly feminist politics of 90's women, as well as the sincere belief that not only can a woman rock as hard as a man, but rock in a unique way all her own. The goal of the camp is to get pre-pubescent and pubescent girls to build self-esteem and discover their inner talent through joining bands, and writing and playing songs in the course of a week. This message is punctuated by title cards, displaying very illuminating statistics concerning the devaluation of women in music and in society at large, that divide the film's segments.
Though the film is low-budget and lacks a tight structure, this punk rock aesthetic works for the film given its subject. The young girl subjects are incredibly compelling and the presence of (indie-)rock superstar counselors at the camp such as Carrie Brownstein of the aforementioned Sleater-Kinney and Beth Ditto of The Gossip seals the deal for Your 90's-ologist.
I also really loved how they acknowledged the difficulties faced by those non-white girls attending the camp, as well as a girl who was from a lower-class socio-economic background than most of the girls. Their issues with self-esteem and fitting in weren't ignored, and it reminded me quite a bit of another Offically 90's documentary that I love, "Afropunk" (2003) by director James Spooner.
Watching this just makes me wish I had been able to participate in something like this when I was 13. I was exactly like these socially awkward, yet crazy smart and artistically talented girls, but it took me until I was 19 to pick up a guitar (I was a pencils nut in high school; I was a pencil drawing artist and a member of the National Art Honor Society). I love the message that girls should be able to learn and express themselves at their own pace, free from criticism from boys, and other girls for that matter...they also make the pertinent point that girls are often socialized to demean other girls at a very early age.
Please check out the trailer of this lovely doc:
In the special features, I love when the Korean girl goes through her CDs and gets to Kittie, and she singsongs, "If you're a teenage girl and you're into metal, you'll have been into Kittie at some point, I don't care what you say..." Which is hilarious and true.
If you have a daughter, granddaughter, niece or otherwise little female rocker in your life, click to find info on the 2009 Rock and Roll Camp for Girls. Rock on!
Sunday, February 8, 2009
HADDAWAY & DR. ALBAN - "I LOVE THE 90'S" (2008)
I shouldn't even have to explain this:
That's Damn The Man's new theme song, just so you know. Respect.
And the video for Haddaway's 1993 hit single, "What Is Love":
HADDAWAY - "WHAT IS LOVE" from his 1993 album, "Haddaway"
So "What Is Love" is probably best remembered by American 90's kids as those SNL "Night At The Roxbury" characters' fave song when they went to their cheesy Eurotrash-flavored club. Yeah. My favorite 90's pop culture moment involving the infectious dance hit by Trinidadian singer Haddaway can be located in the eleventh episode of TV show "My So-Called Life" called "Life of Brian."
I am a big fan of late 80's/early 90's house and dance music, and learning that Haddaway is Trini (my father's side of the family hails from Trinidad) makes my memories even better. The thing I love best about the song and the way that it was used in "Life of Brian," is that even though the lyrics hint at pain and confusion over relationships, the music itself is ridiculously triumphant, like, as if I'm going to let that shizz get me down.
The episode "Life of Brian" deals with Ricky Vasquez's struggle with his homosexuality. He tries to pretend as if he could entertain being interested in and taking the new girl (whom Brian Krakow rejected) to the school dance, but in the end, he comes to accept who he is, expressed through a thrillingly gay and oddly poignant dance to Haddaway's "What Is Love." If you have seen it, you know what I mean. If you haven't, it's a thing of beauty:
Did I mention I love this show?
Saturday, February 7, 2009
MY SO-CALLED LIFE (1994-1995)
It's time, 90's fans. It's time. It's time to talk about "My So-Called Life." No, no, stop crying, it'll be alright. Let's talk it out.
Why we aren't watching MSCL's lead character Angela Chase finish her doctorate, get married and have a bunch of kids in a suburb in Connecticut right now, I'll never know...
I watched the boxed set of this show a few weeks ago, which consisted of only a single season on ABC, and smiled inside at creator Winnie Holzman's appearance in the special features. She strikes me as that eccentric New Age neighbor lady with frizzy hair and Stevie Nicks capes that was always super-nice and introduced you to stuff like tarot cards and crystals. Kind of like Rayanne's mom Amber (played with gusto by Patti D'Arbanville Quinn, living up to her inspiration for the 1970 Cat Stevens tune "Wild World") did for Angela in the episode where Rayanne throws a huge party and OD's on ecstasy. Winnie's sweetly vulnerable but astute take on teenage life seared itself into my cerebral cortex, and I'm kind of scarred for life now.
Here's the most pertinent question when it comes to MSCL...are you a Jordan girl or a Brian girl? One of the central conflicts in Angela's 15 year old life was that she wanted painfully hot Jordan, who was nearly always emotionally unavailable to her, and she wanted nerdy and familiar Brian Krakow to stay away from her, although he loved her with the heat of a thousand suns and wanted to be her dog. Jordan or Brian? This is a decision every young girl needs to make.
I myself professed love for Jordan in the cafeteria at school, but was really a Brian girl at heart. I'm kind of married to a Brian now. I like smart, weird, socially awkward types, and Brian Krakow was manna from heaven to my kind of geek girl.
This show did an incredibly deft job of handling issues relevant to teenagers not only in the 90's, but teenagers yesterday, today and forevermore. Producers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz were responsible for the hit TV show "thirtysomething" (1987-1991), and managed to more-than-successfully translate that formula to a often-contradictory Generation X audience. This show captures the ennui and apathy felt by that generation, as well as the genuine social concern, noncomformity and passion for change that they exhibited.
The other aspect of the show that I truly miss is the great ensemble cast and acting on display. Claire Danes, of course, gave her tour-de-force performance in MSCL, but all the other young performers, including Wilson Cruz as the fabulously in-the-closet Ricky Vasquez, the underrated Devon Gummersall as my beloved Brian, A.J. Langer as that self-destructive-but-incredibly-attractive-girl-we've-all-been-friends-with, Rayanne Graff, the underrated Devon Odessa who played good-girl and spurned friend, Sharon Cherski, and last, but not least, even Jared Leto felt his oats as "grunge" hottie Jordan Catalano, scourge of pubescent girls everywhere.
I've come to appreciate the older members of the cast very much in the years since MSCL was cancelled, especially Angela's parents Patti and Graham, played to perfection by Bess Armstrong and Tom Irwin. I really appreciate how well-drawn their characters are now, being a writer myself, from Patti's dominance in the household as mother and breadwinner (reflecting men's and women's shifting roles in the home at the time) to Graham's lapsed-hippie laidback-ness, sensitive creativity evidenced by his skill at fine cooking and proclivity for flirting and cheating with other women. It was like the producers were able to continue a version of "thirtysomething" through Patti and Graham's character arcs. Loved it.
My So-Called Life practically birthed the concept of "brilliant-but-cancelled" television (it was cancelled mainly due to low ratings and, possibly, Claire Danes's wish for a film career), and continues to influence TV writers and shows to this day. Even Joss Whedon admits that there's a lot of MSCL in his late-90's, early '00s powerhouse TV show "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." I will always hold a special place in my heart for a girl who was my same age, shared my name and wasn't too prudish to make out in a boiler room when she had to.
Enough out of me. Please check My So-Called Life out for yourself:
I could add MSCL videos all day. Love the hell out of this show.
Both 90's R&B babes TLC and the Twitter bird know there's no shame in my game. In the grand tradition of TLC's 1992 single "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg," your 90's-ologist asks that you please follow her on Twitter, if you are so inclined. I just finally got my tuchis over there and signed up, and I recommend it to all my friends with short attention spans and/or lack of time. It can be quite amusing.
You don't even have to go anywhere to start following me...simply scroll down until you find "Twitter Updates" in the right sidebar, click on "Follow me on Twitter" and you will be transferred directly to my profile, where you can begin receiving the magic. For those of you following the blog from a directory like MyBlogLog, the address is http://twitter.com/Your90sologist. Hell, I'll follow you! I'll be your bff!
Thanks, gang. Please enjoy some love from TLC to you:
TLC - "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" from their 1992 album, "Ooooooohhh.... On the TLC Tip"
Thursday, February 5, 2009
R.I.P. LUX INTERIOR (ERICK LEE PURKHISER) 1946-2009
Seminal punk rock frontman Lux Interior (born Erick Lee Purkhiser in Ohio) died yesterday of a pre-existing heart condition in Glendale, CA at Glendale Memorial Hospital. He is survived by his fabulous wife and fellow Cramps bandmate, Kristy Wallace, a.k.a. Poison Ivy.
The Cramps emerged from the classic mid-70's New York City punk scene consisting of clubs like CBGB's and Max's Kansas City playing what they called "psychobilly;" a freakish mesh of 50's sci-fi B-movie aesthetic, high camp, and rockabilly supercharged by punk rock speediness. Many bands that I would come to love in the 90's like Reverend Horton Heat, Southern Culture on the Skids, The Amazing Royal Crowns, and even White Zombie seemed to be directly influenced by The Cramps. Kurt Loder kind of summed it up nicely in a 1984 review of a Cramps comp record:
“This is rock & roll the way it never really was on the radio, but the way you always dreamed it could be — drooling horrorama lyrics, great cheesoid guitar riffs, post-lobotomy drum-bashing and a singer for whom inhibition is the dirtiest ten-letter word of all. Slurp it up, sleaze fans.”
Damn right. Speaking of post-lobotomy, The Cramps even played a free show at the California State Mental Hospital in 1978, which amuses me to no end.
My first memory of The Cramps was actually due to Mike Judge's controversial 90's MTV show "Beavis and Butthead." There were many arguments over whether this show was rotting my fragile brain, but I was tuning in mainly because they played a lot of videos that MTV would not deign to play in the daylight hours. The Cramps video they showed was, I believe, "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns" from their 1990 album, "Stay Sick!," which says a lot about The Cramps right there. I was lucky enough to see The Cramps while I was in college in New England several years later. I was fascinated with Lux, from his hilariously creative name to his overall dark gothiness, which included an ability to perform in ridiculously high, shiny patent leather stripper heels. He was androgynous and I liked it. There will never be another.
Please enjoy the fierceness that is Lux Interior and the Cramps:
The Cramps - "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns" from their 1990 album, "Stay Sick!"
The Cramps - "Naked Girl Falling Down The Stairs" from their 1994 album, "Flame Job"
Two of my very favorite punk bands ever will be gracing New York City's Roseland Ballroom with their presence on Saturday, March 7, so if you are lucky enough to be in the Big Apple next month, say hi to your mother for me!
I almost don't know where to start with these two bands. They hold a special place in my heart. From that bright afternoon in Lewiston, Maine when a half-Jewish, half-shiksa girl walked up to me before class and handed me a cassette tape copy of their 1998 album, "Do or Die," in a pure show of friendship that rivals any since, I have loved the Dropkick Murphys. Their slightly drunken, mostly aggressive, all-Irish brand of Boston punk can be compared to none other, except maybe the Pogues. But even the Pogues lacked their streetwise, hardcore tough-guyness, which once upon a time for me was the sexiest sexy could get.
Of course, times have changed since "Do or Die" for this band (including a line-up change after their original frontman, Mike McColgan, left the band to become a firefighter shortly after "Do or Die" was released, leading to replacement by Al Barr), but they continue to be quite a force on the music scene (which couldn't have been hurt by their being absolutely slathered all over Martin Scorsese's 2002 ode-to-Boston film, "The Departed" and according to Wikipedia, their heavy involvement with sports teams like the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins), leading to the 2008 limited edition release of their 2007 album, "The Meanest of Times."
H2O is New York Hardcore at its finest. Formed in 1994 by Toby Morse, a former roadie for NYC hardcore faves Sick Of It All, toured like mofos for the next couple of years (including opening up for heavy-hitters No Doubt and Rancid) and they've been on everyone's friends list ever since. I'm in love with their positive, straight up punk rock/hardcore sound. Punk and hardcore was, and in many ways, still is, a way of life for me. It was the right music for the right time.
Please bask in the glow of true-to-life punk rawk:
Dropkick Murphys - "Barroom Hero" from their 1998 album, "Do or Die"
H2O - "I See It In Us" from their 1997 album, "Thicker Than Water"
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
NICK HEYWARD - "KITE" from his 1993 album "From Monday to Sunday"
My Mom is the best. Like I mentioned in my last post, she has just sent me a box full of 90's love, in the form of old cassette tapes that I thankfully saved from The Great Cassette Purge awhile back, and among them are several 90's vintage mixes made straight from the radio (the late WDRE was my lifeline back in the day when their format was still called "modern rock"). My day brightened, especially when Nick Heyward's "Kite" made an appearance.
I miss this kind of radio pop in a bad way. I grew up in the 80's listening to my Mom play "45's of bands and singer-songwriters like Crowded House, Suzanne Vega, The Pretenders and Joan Armatrading, and in the 90's, NYC radio station WDRE played crystalline modern rock in the vein of Squeeze, The Smithereens, Michael Penn and this cat, Nick Heyward. The observant among you will notice the 80's-90's crossover: this is my favorite phenomenon ever when it comes to the 90's. 80's pop stars often scrambled to find their way in a newly revamped musical climate back then, to differing degrees of success. Nick Heyward, who initially found fame in the 80's with Haircut 100, was the model of how to update your style with style, IMHO.
I just love the stunning structure and literate nature of the lyrics of this song. It kind of merrily bounces along like a little bumblebee, from flower to flower. Nick Heyward's lovely, lush vocals are also a big part of the fun with "Kite." It's just refreshing to hear a song from a singer-songwriter that isn't a self-absorbed, navel-gazing mess, but a crisp, bright, skipping-barefoot-in-the-grass pleasure.
Here is a video of Haircut 100's hit single "Love Plus One" from their 1982 album, "Pelican West":
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
MAD SEASON - "RIVER OF DECEIT" from their 1995 album, "ABOVE"
Whoo buddy, I loved me some Alice in Chains in the 90's. There was no one more bummed than I was when Alice frontman Layne Staley shuffled off this mortal coil in April 2002 from a drug overdose. I was especially a big fan of the ballads that were a specialty of that band, because of Layne's superior rock singing and his harmonizing with guitarist Jerry Cantrell. "River of Deceit" by Alice In Chains side project Mad Season was like an exquisitely wrapped tasty treat for Layne-iacs back in the 90's.
The Nineties was kind of side project heaven in the music scene, with a large number of those more successful ones being concentrated in the so-called "grunge" bands of the moment, including Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, in the form of Brad (PJ side project formed by guitarist Stone Gossard) and Temple of The Dog (which included Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, Stone Gossard, PJ bassist Jeff Ament, PJ guitarist Mike McCready, and Soundgarden's Matt Cameron on drums). Mad Season was formed 1994 and featured Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and drummer Barrett Martin of the excellent Screaming Trees, a band that your 90's-ologist has not yet had the time to laud, but soon will, I promise. The band eventually disbanded in 1999 after one successful album (1995's "Above") and the death of bassist John Baker Saunders from a heroin overdose.
If you want even more details about the band, MTV has a very comprehensive article for you. Me, I really just want to talk about this wonderful song. The reason I even remembered it is because I have a really supportive mom who has been enabling my pop culture habit for years. She finally sent the tapes of my college radio show (the tapes are mostly between 1997 and 1999, though I had a show all four years of college,'96-2000) to me, and "River of Deceit" is one of the first songs that caught my eye. Layne's prodigious vocal talent was on full display here. He was one of the reasons that my transition from R&B/Hip-Hop and dance music was so smooth...this white boy can sang! This, along with the top-notch guitar stylings (which are like some good-ass Pearl Jam leftovers), made this song a staple of a 90's rock diet.
I really wanted to show you guys the video for this song, but Sony BMG isn't having it. Here's a live clip instead, lucky you!
Monday, February 2, 2009
Damn The Man, Save The Empire! is proud to present "You So Crazy," a new feature about comedy in the 90's. It was, IMHO, an incredibly fertile high watermark for American comedy, from Martin Lawrence and Def Comedy Jam ("You So Crazy" is also the title of Lawrence's 1994 stand-up comedy concert film), to agitators Denis Leary and Hicks, and the continued presence of George Carlin, all the way over to TV faves Roseanne Barr, the entire cast of "In Living Color," Margaret Cho and Rosie O'Donnell. Not to mention the third wave of SNL with Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Julia Sweeney, Phil Hartman, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell, Al Franken, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Norm MacDonald, Molly Shannon and Janeane Garofalo, who also appeared in the cast of "The Ben Stiller Show" (1992-1993) with Stiller, Andy Dick and Bob Odenkirk. Did I mention fellow sketch comedies "Kids In The Hall" and "The State?" Talk amongst yourselves.
On this past Friday, January 30, 2009, David Letterman aired fabulous 90's comedian Bill Hicks's last monologue on the show before his death at 31 by pancreatic cancer in 1994. Hicks was a kind of contemporary incarnation of 60's badass comedian Lenny Bruce; he railed against corporate control of American lives, urging people to be more socially conscious through the often controversial themes of his routines.
Bill Hicks found fans in 90's counterculture, including rock bands like Tool, who included artwork featuring Hicks in the liner notes of their 1996 album, Ænima, as well as quotes on the record in the song "Third Eye" from Hicks's albums "Dangerous" (1990) and "Relentless" (1992) and had Hicks open for them on the Lollapalooza tour in 1993.
Do yourself a favor and check out this monologue, then seek out anything and everything Bill Hicks that you can absorb. Your brain will thank you:
Sunday, February 1, 2009
1989 SUNDANCE AUDIENCE AWARD (DRAMATIC) WINNER - "sex, lies and videotape" directed by Steven Soderbergh
Your 90's-ologist often runs into music, film, art, etc. that either reminds her of the 90's, should have been released in the 90's or was a portent of things to come in the 90's. Therefore, I am happy to reveal a new Damn The Man feature: "Officially 90's Honorable Mention," where just such things can be placed for your reading pleasure.
I struggled with "sex, lies and videotape" for much of the 90's. I knew it was a very influential film on the indie scene and Soderbergh was a big name even at that early point in his career, but I just could not get into what I felt was a soporific slog through some guy's basest desires.
Now that the bloom has fallen off my flower, so to speak, I understand this film a bit more and have come to appreciate it for what it is: a worthy precursor to 1990's dialogue-heavy, relationship-oriented films like "Bodies, Rest and Motion" (1993), "Watch It" (1993), "In The Company of Men" (1997) and "Your Friends and Neighbors" (1998), the last two of which were directed by Neil LaBute, who actually makes an appearance on the commentary track of the 1998 DVD reissue of the film.
Firstly, can we talk about James Spader? This fine actor has done it for me since he was Molly Ringwald's arch enemy Steff in John Hughes's 1986 classic teen film "Pretty In Pink." Why Andie (Ringwald) never hate-f&*ks the hell out of Steff, I'll never know. James Spader was hot, hot, hot, and he worked his creepy/sexy magic to great effect in "sex, lies and videotape" as the college roommate who randomly shows back up in lawyer Peter Gallagher's life, ensnaring his wife (Andie MacDowell) and her sister (Laura San Giacomo) in his odd past-time of videotaping women talking about their past sexual experiences. So much so that he fools you into thinking there's alot of raunchiness going on in a film with virtually no real sex whatsoever. Pretty skilled.
Speaking of which, the film is an amazing show of restraint and minimalist technique on the part of Soderbergh, a director I feel is given to bouts of unevenness and splashy, superficial glossiness in too many of his films after "sex, lies...," and, after watching this again, I wish he would revert back to some of this yummy simplicity and depth that's on display here. This film is a very nice character study that not only holds up after all these years, but is worth showing to students and baby filmmakers to show how to draw in an audience not just through a catchy premise, but through nuances of story.
Plus, the actress Laura San Giacomo was lovely, and even Peter Gallagher and 90's model/actress Andie MacDowell manage to bring a little sumthin' sumthin' to this classic film.
Please enjoy clips from the 20th Anniversary celebration of this film (which you can read more about at Defamer) at the Sundance Film Festival 2009 and the film itself: