Friday, May 29, 2009

People Who Died: Octavia Saint Laurent, Transgendered Performer (? - 2009)


When I got tipped off about Octavia's death through the Peace Bisquit email newsletter, I have to say I was very saddened. Transgendered entertainer Octavia Saint Laurent died of cancer on May 17th. She was a featured performer in the wonderful 1990 Jennie Livingston-directed documentary "Paris is Burning," which was focused on the underground LGBT "ballroom" community in NYC, consisting of drag queens/performers grouped into "houses" (such as the House of Mizrahi, of which Octavia was a part, and eventually added "Mizrahi" to her name to acknowledge her membership) and competition through dance/posing, specifically "voguing," popularized in the mainstream through the 1990 Madonna single/video "Vogue."

Octavia Saint Laurent was also featured in a 2006 documentary covering the same topic called "How Do I Look," directed by Wolfgang Busch. It picks up where "Paris Is Burning" left off, using footage collected from 1990-onward to create a comprehensive portrait of the ball community since the success of "Paris Is Burning" and "Vogue."

Every time someone from the spectacular film "Paris Is Burning" passes away, the world gets a little smaller and grayer. If you have yet to see it, Netflix it right away. If you're on the lazy side, no fear, a "Movies You Might Have Missed" feature post will be coming soon just for you. I wish I had more information on Octavia Saint Laurent for you, but here is a short article at My and a video clip of Octavia Saint Laurent from "Paris Is Burning." Octavia, you will be missed:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

People Who Died: Jay Bennett, Ex-Member of Wilco (1963 - 2009)

R.I.P. JAY BENNETT, 1963 - 2009

This whole business with Jay just makes me very sad. For those who don't know, Illinois native Jay Bennett was a musician who was a member of the alt-country band Wilco from 1994 until he was fired from the band in 2001, a tumultuous affair partly chronicled in the 2002 Sam Jones-directed documentary about Wilco, "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart." He died in his sleep on Sunday, May 24, 2009. The cause of death at this time is undetermined. A Champaign County, IL coroner's report is forthcoming after further testing.

Bennett subsequently went on to a lower-profile solo career, eventually recording five solo albums, including 2002's "The Palace at 4am" with Champaign, IL musician Edward Burch and 2008's "Whatever Happened I Apologize." He was finishing the album "Kicking At The Perfumed Air" at the time of his death. He also produced Blues Traveler's 2005 record "¡Bastardos!" and was a successful studio musician, playing on albums of musicians like Sheryl Crow.

Bennett contributed his talent as a multi-instrumentalist and producer to Wilco's during and including the live tours and records including "A.M." (1995; only live show) , "Being There" (1996), "Mermaid Avenue" (1998), "Summerteeth" (1999), and "Mermaid Avenue Vol. II" (2002), culminating in his contentious recording work on 2002's much-beleaguered rock masterpiece "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," which resulted in producer Jim O'Rourke remixing the title song "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," eventually taking over mixing of the entire album, and precipitated Bennett's unceremonious departure from the band.

Unfortunately, this embarrassing fall was documented in the film "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart," which, IMHO, kind of depicts Jay in a less-than-favorable light. Apparently, he agreed, because Bennett filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Wilco frontman and founder Jeff Tweedy on May 4, 2009, for $50,000 in recompense for unpaid royalties accrued during his time in Wilco and his negative portrayal and unauthorized use of his image in the film.

Even worse was that Bennett was having trouble as of late with a hip injury incurred while he was a member of the band Titanic Love Affair in the 90's. He was preparing to go into hip replacement surgery, but found his insurance would not cover the procedure. He struggled with gathering the funds required to pay for the surgery "out of pocket".

Jay Bennett seemed to catch a raw deal in the end, especially when it comes to the impression the general public got of him as a musician and band member from "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart." Jay seemed like an enthusiastic and committed artist who only cared about progressing the music to the best place he could guide it. "Summerteeth" and "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" are two amazing records that are touched by his care and contribution, and that's awesome. The fact that he lived the last portion of his life in frustrating emotional and physical pain is depressing. You will be missed, Jay. Thanks for bringing music into the world.

Here are some clips of Jay Bennett playing with Wilco, including some portions of the doc "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart". For more info on Jay Bennett's contributions to the "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" record, I highly recommend you click here. For an interview conducted by Glorious Noise with Jay Bennett about "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and his leaving Wilco, you know what to do. Fascinating stuff.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Upcoming Show: The Prodigy at The Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, CA - May 27, 2009


Ooh boy, if you live in Los Angeles, this will be a special treat for you...Tomorrow night, yes, TOMORROW, so step on it if you're interested, UK electronic music giant The Prodigy will be rocking the Hollywood Palladium (6215 Sunset Blvd.) at 8pm. It's their "Invaders Must Die" tour, which be the name of their new album, of course, which features my close, personal friend Dave Grohl on drums for the track, " Run with the Wolves," btw.

My email username in college in the 90's was "Firestarter." Even my Mom liked "the little crazy clown" in the video for "Firestarter," who would shake his two little green tufts of hair around in a paroxysm of firestarting emotion. I somehow managed to miss them live back in the day, so I am super-psyched to see them tomorrow.

The Prodigy, who are mainly comprised of founder/songwriter/DJ/keyboardist Liam Howlett, dancer/vocalist/clown Keith Flint, and MC/vocalist/contact lens-wearer, Maxim Reality, have been in the business of tripping you out since 1990, and following the release of their excellent 1992 rave disc "Experience," The Prodigy's status as real anarchic barnburners in the electronic/dance music world was established.

For serious, if you love some hard-edged techno, check out "Experience" and 1994's "Music For The Jilted Generation,"(which was re-released in 2008 as "More Music For The Jilted Generation") both groundbreaking albums for the UK/US rave scenes.

Their 1997 album "Fat of the Land" was their true breakthrough album in the States, debuting on the Billboard chart at number one and eventually going double platinum. "Firestarter," "Breathe" and the controversial "Smack My Bitch Up" are all featured on this record, expanding their sound from their tightly-wound techno rave style into a more rock-oriented, guitar-laden sound. There is much to say about this album, so look out for a I Can't Believe You Don't Own This F%#kin' Record post coming your way soon.

So I've got a video for you from each 90's-era Prodigy record, enjoy:

The Prodigy - "Wind It Up" (from their 1992 album, "Experience")

The Prodigy - "Their Law" (from their 1994 album, "Music For The Jilted Generation")

The Prodigy - "Firestarter" (from their 1997 album, "The Fat of The Land")

Yessss! You know this is what you really wanted to see. You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NEW DAMN THE MAN FEATURE!! House of Style: Fashion, Supermodels and More


After stumbling onto this US Magazine article on 90's models of yesteryear and having a robust argument with my fashion-illiterate husband (spurred on by a viewing of "America's Next Top Model") about whether there was a trend in "masculine-looking" supermodels in the 90's (Me:"No, it was waifs! Heroin chic!!"), an argument that even Judith Butler would want no place in, I knew it was time to prop this Damn The Man, Save The Empire! post category up already.

"House of Style" is, of course, named after the illustrious, Cindy-Crawford-hosted show, "MTV's House of Style," a show that I begrudgingly admit that my eyes were glued to every time it came on, if only in hopes that Todd Oldham would have a segment in DIY interior decoration that episode."House of Style" began in 1989 and runs in some form or another on MTV to this day, apparently.

Supermodels are also another thing of the past...oh yeah, there are still models, but who knows their names anymore? Big designers (John Galliano, Thierry Mugler, Isaac Mizrahi, Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui, Jean-Paul Gaultier) needed big names: Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Niki Taylor, Claudia Schiffer...these were the heavy-hitters, seen everywhere from runways to TV to magazines, you could not get away from them. Even models below this lofty echelon were prized beyond belief; favorites of mine and my family's were Frederique, Jenny Shimizu (Angelina Jolie's ex!) and Eve (who wore a giant dragon tattoo on her head---it was the 90's, one could get away with such things when Cobain walked the earth).

Here's another article by Complex Magazine about these household names, and I will be scrounging up info on more...another House of Style post to come!

Here's the fun part...Videos! The first couple of clips are of vintage 90's "House of Style" episodes, and the last couple are a gift from me to those who remember when models were super!

George Michael - "Too Funky" from the 1992 compilation "Red Hot + Dance" by the Red Hot Organization (for HIV/AIDS awareness and fundraising)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Baby I Love Your Way: Jim Carrey - Jumper


Though "Yes Man" is nothing but a Xerox of the far superior 1997 comedy hit film "Liar Liar," any film that contains a scene in which Jim Carrey tries to talk a suicidal guy out of jumping off a building by playing him the 1997 Third Eye Blind single "Jumper" is OK in my book. Best use of a Third Eye Blind song, ever.

Third Eye Blind is a rough one for me. Alhough their hit singles (especially the ones from their self-titled debut album, from whence "Jumper" hails) are catchy, because K-Rock and MTV played their music (especially the eponymous debut album that "Jumper" comes from) a thousand times a day, catchy became earworm, and earworms make Your 90's-ologist itchy. I have to be honest that I'm not a fan.

One can't deny, however, that bands like Third Eye Blind were indelibly woven into the fabric of life in the 90's. So take it away, 90's-style Jim Carrey:

Look out for a post on "Liar Liar" soon!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Upcoming Show: The Posies perform Frosting On The Beater at The Gramercy Theater, New York, NY - June 13, 2009


If you happen to be in NYC in June and are at all a fan of Damn The Man, then you will probably be at this most momentous of 90's shows.

Bellingham, WA band The Posies make me want to cry because they represent the 90's in a lot of ways for me. For some reason, dreamy guitar fuzz pop is not popular with the kids and their iPods these days. Their 1993 album, "Frosting on the Beater" is a triumph of said fuzzy guitar pop, and will be performed in its entirety by the full band, including, of course, co-founders and main songwriters Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow.

Here's where you can purchase tickets if that is your wont to do so.

"Flavor of the Month" was their big hit single off "Frosting," but "Dream All Day" is one of the finest songs of the 90's, bar none. Check out some Posies videos that will illustrate what I mean:

The Posies - "Dream All Day"

The Posies - "Flavor of the Month"

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Was A TV Baby: Blossom

BLOSSOM (NBC) 1991 - 1995

It is majorly weird to see Mayim Bialik play lesbian Jodi Funkhouser on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," especially since "Blossom" entered the round robin of older TV series transitioning to DVD in January 2009 with the release of the show's first and second seasons. I can't say I wasn't happy for Blossom Russo (and her dumb-yet-hot brother Joey) to come back into my life.

Many may barely remember this slice of TV goodness; 90's-raised men probably only have a passing knowledge of this show, and may only know that it was a corny show their little sister liked. For me, this show was my gift for graduating from Nickelodeon's "Clarissa Explains It All." A show about an independent-minded, intelligent, 90's-rock-and-big-hat-loving-motherless chick in a house full of dudes (her drug-addicted older brother was my fave!) was right up my alley.
The reason that watching Mayim play a mostly-mute, sorta frumpy lesbian makes me feel funny is that she used to be a 90's symbol par excellence of girl cool back then. Her off-screen persona was almost better than the sometimes nauseatingly optimistic Blossom: she was the Queen of the Sassy magazine pictorial (Sassy being the weird girls' bible, of course) ; she had enviously long and beautiful hair and funky clothing; she told Arsenio Hall once as a guest on his talk show that Elvis Costello was one of her favorite musicians. In my 13 year-old brain, she ruled.

Blossom Russo was an irresistible character, though. From the incredibly cute dancing she does in the opening with her TV bros and father to the willingness to look completely crazy while discussing her fanaticism of Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder to deciding whether to have sex with her kinda bland, kinda hot boyfriend Vinnie, she was EveryTeenager, but better, because she had motormouth cutie Six (Jenna Von Oy) as her best friend; a girl any girl could only hope to have rollin' with her.

"The name's Six, bitch!" (NSFW!!)

Watching the first two seasons again after all this time passed, I was surprised to see the wit and charm of the writing hold up nicely, and Mayim was every bit a star we believed her to be back then. There are an awful lot of "very special" moments, but it is refreshing to watch a show about a teenage girl that doesn't involve her trying to act like an adult or practicing for a future career in porn (I'm talking to you, Sasha Grey) . And did I mention that Blossom was a vlogger? Her video diary was just a hop, skip and a jump away from being broadcast over the then-nascent Internets. Progressive girl, that Blossom.

Eventually Joey Lawrence's rising fame and idiocy kind of took over the show, and it got cancelled, but "Blossom" will always live on in my heart as a show I could really relate to as a teenage girl.

I'm bummed that I could only get you guys a video of the intro to the show, but in a way, it's all you need to put a smile on your face:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Baby I Love Your Way: Pearl Jam - I've Got A Feeling


Now, there is nothing that Your 90's-ologist loves to do more than reminisce over Ten-era Pearl Jam. I felt a ping of regret in my heart when Epic reissued 1991's "Ten" this past March because it would never again be the first time I was hearing that album.

Then I saw Paul McCartney bust some moves onstage at Coachella a couple of weeks ago, and he performed The Beatles' 1970 hit song "I've Got A Feeling," from their hit album "Let It Be," and it reminded me of just how much I used to love Pearl Jam's cover of this song in the early 90's.

"I've Got A Feeling" is an interesting mash of two unfinished songs written by McCartney ("I've Got A Feeling") and John Lennon ("Everybody Had A Hard Year/Watching Rainbows") ... Pearl Jam included their take on the song on Japanese releases of "Ten." It eventually made its way back to the States through bootlegs, which is how I first heard it, I believe. At the time, I knew it wasn't an original PJ track, but had no clue it was a Beatles song, which seems crazy, but black folks don't pump "Let It Be" on their hi-fi stereos. I was a newborn babe to rock, and Pearl Jam was there to guide me.

I love the idealistic quality of this song. It feels like drinking a tall, cold glass of water...refreshing. Enjoy:

The "Andy" that Eddie Vedder mentions in this version of the song is Andrew Wood, singer of Seattle band Mother Love Bone who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Pearl Jam is partly comprised of Mother Love Bone members: Jeff Ament on bass and guitarist Stone Gossard.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!!


Well, I just got off the phone with my Mom who is still back on the East Coast...have you called yours yet? In case you haven't found the motivation, here's a very hilarious clip from the 1990 Mike Nichols adaptation of Carrie Fisher's novel "Postcards From The Edge" to spur you along:

Upcoming Show: The Orb at The House of Blues, Anaheim, CA - June 10, 2009


90's electronic music stalwarts The Orb (co-founded by former KLF member Jimmy Cauty) will bring their ambient house stylings to the House of Blues , located in the House of Mouse (that be Disneyland to you non-Californians), this summer. Click here to buy tickets.

The Orb was first brought to my attention, as I'm sure this was the case with a lot of newbie electronic music fans back then, with the 1990 single "Little Fluffy Clouds" featured on their 1991 album, "The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld." This peculiar song features samples of folk songstress Rickie Lee Jones, from an interview on her 1989 "Flying Cowboys" album, kind of blissfully ruminating on what it was like to grow up in Arizona, especially the beautiful skies, hence the "Little Fluffy Clouds" of the title. This made no sense to me when I was thirteen or fourteen, but I loved it. I eventually moved on to Orbital, but The Orb are forever.

Please enjoy a couple of videos from this seminal chillout group:

Steve Reich and Ennio Morricone are all up in this piece as well. Google those names if you have no idea what I'm talking about. Good stuff.

The Orb - "Toxygene" from their 1997 album, "Orblivion"

This song rocks.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Movies You Might Have Missed: Crash

CRASH (1996) - dir. David Cronenberg

It is a challenge finding family-friendly stills from the 1996 adaptation of the late J. G. Ballard's novel "Crash" that illustrate just exactly what it's about, and that, in and of itself, is the point of this often-shocking and absolutely strange film about how sexy car wrecks can be.

David Cronenberg has directed many cringe-worthy classics, a couple of which surfaced in the 90's, including "Shivers" (1975), "Rabid" (1977), "Scanners" (1981), "Videodrome" (1983), "The Fly" (1986--which has recently been adapted to an opera, directed by Cronenberg himself), "Naked Lunch" (1991), "eXistenz" (1999), "Spider" (2002) and "A History of Violence" (2005), but none gives the heebie-jeebies better than "Crash." It is the gold standard of the Cinema of Discomfort.

James Spader really puts his sexy smarm to good use in this film as James Ballard (the author's own name), a film producer who has a fractured, distant relationship with his wife (played by very 90's actress, Deborah Kara Unger, pictured at left), who lucks into finding out he is really turned on by car crashes and car crash victims after he collides his car with Holly Hunter's character, Dr. Helen Remington. He hooks up with her in the hospital, which eventually leads him to performance artist Vaughan (Elias Koteas), whose car crash fetishism project allows Ballard to plunge even further into his new obsession by initiating him into a group of car crash fetishists, eventually leading him to get next to a lady in a leg brace as a result of an accident, played by Rosanna Arquette. Yes, this is all as disturbing as it sounds.

Meeting Rosanna Arquette and her leg brace is kind of a climax, so to speak, for Ballard, and for Spader as an actor, since he is called upon to, uh, mate with the big ol' gaping wound in the back of her leg, a scene as confusing as anything going on on "Lost" right now.

Yes, the going can be rough in "Crash," but for me, the journey is well worth it. It is oddly refreshing to watch a film that features a mature exploration of adult sexuality and resists the urge to condescend to its viewers. Cronenberg is the King of Icky, and he doesn't disappoint here. The Onion agrees with me, by the way.

Please enjoy some NSFW clips of this singular film:

Sorry this one is out of sync.

This clip is kind of a spicy meatball; Please do not open if you still have a job.

Siskel and Ebert got their panties in a bunch over this one! I miss the old 'At The Movies...'

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Flaming Lips (kinda) name their next album...and look cute in their band uniforms

Paste Magazine reports that The Flaming Lips may title their next album "Embryonic" or "Embryonic and..some other as-yet-unconfirmed thing." Whatever. This post was really just an excuse to post the best picture ever, above.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lebowski Fest L.A.!


The Coen Brothers' 1998 cult comedy "The Big Lebowski" gets the star treatment once again today and tomorrow in Los Angeles at The Wiltern, and, apparently, at the bowling alley as well.

Lebowski Fest has been rolling since 2002, and this year Jeff Dowd, "The Dude" in real life, will be present as usual, along with myriad actors from the film, including Jon Polito and the Chinaman who peed on Dude's rug.

And in a strange twist on these festivities, Lebowski Fest will be graced onstage by 8-year old guitar prodigy, Yuto Miyazawa. Yeah, I dunno either. For the full list of Lebowski luminaries and how to buy tickets, click here.

If you haven't seen "The Big Lebowski" yet, well then, God help you. No fear, there is a "Shawshank Redemption of Mainstream Cinema" Lebowski post in your future. In the meantime, enjoy the (NSFW-Lebowski fans love cursing!)trailer to a forthcoming movie about Lebowski Fest called "The Achievers" by Eddie Chung:

Movies You Might Have Missed: Queens Logic

QUEENS LOGIC (1991) - dir. Steven Rash

I miss these great personal films that came out in the 90's, especially those based in New York, like 1991's "Queens Logic." These types of dialogue-heavy films were usually ensemble pieces, and Queens Logic boasts an incredibly great cast for a small movie about around-the-way Queens folks who reunite for their friends' upcoming wedding.

Two of my fave actresses grace this film: The resplendent Queen of Mean, Linda Fiorentino, who came to some acting fame in the mid-80's through her parts in "Vision Quest" (1985), "Gotcha!" (1985) and "After Hours" (also 1985 and my favorite role of these three---she's an aloof sculptor who seems hellbent for leather, among other things).

These are all fine, but the Fiorentino Holy Grail comes in the form of her character Bridget/Wendy Kroy in the bitch-tastic 1994 John Dahl neo-noir classic, "The Last Seduction." Believe me, I will gush about that film at length in a later "Movies You Might Have Missed" post. Needless to say, you would do well to beat me at the punch and add it to your Netflix queue immediately.

The wonderful New York actress Chloe Webb will live on in the public imagination as the infamous punk rock groupie Nancy Spungen in the 1986 Alex Cox-directed film, "Sid and Nancy," as fine a punk rock movie as they come. I love her specifically New York-quirkiness, as expressed through her tough, raspy voice and twisty, bendy vowels and inflections in her 'Noo Yawk' accent.

This brand of provincial New York toughness mixed with quirkiness pretty much sums up "Queens Logic." Not heavy on plot, the film relies on the above lovely ladies' characters and their male counterparts, including a very good Joe Mantegna, Kevin Bacon (as a quintessentially dazed and confused N.Y. ex-pat, who now lives in Los Angeles), John Malkovich and a much younger Tom Waits in a supporting role. If you love snappy, witty dialogue, N.Y. stories, and generational tourism (and I know you do if you read Damn The Man), "Queens Logic" is for you. Oh, and it's got a pretty kickin' soundtrack full of oldies if yr prematurely jaded like me.

Please check out the few clips I could find on You Tube. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

There is still time to catch No Doubt on their 2009 tour!


OK, so I dropped the ball on letting you guys know about their impressive multiple-night stint in the Los Angeles area recently. As Cher from "Clueless" might say: my bad.

In truth, I have been avoiding the No Doubt issue, but as Your 90's-ologist, I would be completely remiss if I did not tell you that Mrs. Rossdale and Co. will be performing their ska/reggae/punk/dance/rock fusion on May 19 in Fresno, CA at the Save Mart Center, on the Ellen and Jimmy Kimmel shows (May 19 and 20, respectively), and on May 22 in San Diego at the Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre. To find dates outside of So Cal and where to buy tickets, consult the No Doubt official website.

No Doubt was kind of like the bane of my existence as a punk rock chick back in the day. Every girl I knew salivated like Pavlov's dog the second Gwen Stefani's now-famous warble spilled out from their Walkman, or when the "Don't Speak" video played for the 1,000,000th time with Gwen in that blue sundress, looking like Madonna in her 1993 "Bad Girl" mode.

Tell me you don't see it...

Now that I'm over my need to be punker than you, I quite enjoy a sprinkling of No Doubt here and there, and I admit that Gwen's solo catalogue is often deliriously catchy. Chris Rock agrees with me here.

In fact, it's been easy to admire No Doubt ad infinitum with their generous gift of their entire discography on MP3 when one purchases top-tier tickets on this tour.

No Doubt made an appearance on the Today Show on May 1st and here's the video to prove it:

I love that Gwen and the gang are rockin' their Fred Perrys. Oi! Oi! Oi!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lollapalooza 2009 Line-Up Announced


Paste Magazine has been so good as to provide a complete list of the 2009 line-up of the seminal 90's-era summer rock festival, Lollapalooza. The formerly-travelling festival has been stationary in Grant Park in Chicago since 2005, and this August it features 90's-era bands like Tool, Jane's Addiction, Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg, and Ben Folds. If you think you may find yourself in Obama's home state this summer, here's where to buy tickets. Enjoy!

Your 90's-ologist thanks her loyal readers!


Cher, Tai and Dionne of the 1995 classic comedy "Clueless" want to help me thank all of you who have stopped by to read up on your 90's favorites, joined me on Twitter, and subscribed to the blog.

As you may have observed, the frequency of posts has steadily fallen, unfortunately. This is because Your 90's-ologist is BROKE AS A JOKE, and has hit the brick wall at the other side of the unemployment block. Gotta get a job! So the frequency of posts from now on will be less a post a day and more like a post or two a week until I can get back on the blogging train.

But this does not mean that the 90's action will cease completely...Never! The 90's is my passion and I will continue to plumb my memory for the best bits of it for your Internet reading pleasure. So please do subscribe!! And feel free to comment on the posts if it strikes your 90's-obsessed fancy. Thanks!!