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Where I write all things Justin. Call me a Daydream Belieber!
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Music

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The Golden Age of Late Night


David Letterman

They say we are living in a Golden Age of Television, and they may be right. Certainly THE SOPRANOS, THE WIRE, BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN, GAME OF THRONES, and many other shows have risen past anything at the multiplexes in terms of capturing the popular imagination.

But none of them is my favorite TV show of all time. That would be LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, which aired at 12:30 weeknights on NBC, after THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON, from 1982 to 1993.

I am not talking about LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, which ran on CBS at 11:30 from 1993 to the present day. You may have heard that Letterman recently announced he’ll be leaving the show next year, which has kicked off a lot of eulogies for the man’s career, including this one. Dave certainly had more than a few great moments on CBS, but in making the transition to an earlier hour and a wider audience, he sanded off most of the rough edges that made LATE NIGHT so special.

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The Real Best Picture of 2013

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I don’t want to suggest that TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE didn’t deserve the trophies it collected a few weeks ago at the Academy Awards — I didn’t see it because I’m squeamish about sustained wanton brutality onscreen, but I’m sure it’s very well done — but I do feel that the best piece of filmmaking of 2013 was unfairly overlooked for Oscar recognition, and that is the trailer for AMERICAN HUSTLE.

 

When you watch this trailer, you get the idea that this is going to be a great, twisty, plotty, tense heist picture, full of great performances, quotable lines, memorable scenes, and amazing period costumes and soundtrack.

Well, it had the costumes and the soundtrack, and the actors did very well with what they were given, but this is one of the most overhyped movies I can remember, and the idea that it was up for Best Picture is kind of unbelievable.

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Scared Straight: The Music Video

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What is the greatest documentary ever made? Ken Burns’ THE CIVIL WAR? Alex Gibney’s ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM? CRUMB? CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS? HOOP DREAMS? THE THIN BLUE LINE?

Pencils down. Those are all great, important films, but the greatest documentary film ever made is, without question, Penelope Spheeris’ THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION PART II: THE METAL YEARS.

Shot in Los Angeles in the late ’80s, the film features interviews with the rich, successful, elders of heavy metal at the time — Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons — talking about the freedom of metal and how it saved rock and roll from its own excesses, and everyone is in embarrassing period clothing (except for Lemmy) and everyone seems totally addled by either drugs (Ozzy) or money (Gene Simmons) or pussy (Paul Stanley) or some combination of all three. It’s all more amusing than insightful, but it is worth watching.

But what really makes this film amazing is all the unfamous bands who are also interviewed, and who contributed performances to the movie, insisting (against all the available evidence) that they’re definitely going to make it, they’re definitely going to be rich in a year or two, there is no backup plan. Their atrocious performances, along with the torrent of casual misogyny and drug and alcohol abuse, make clear — particularly now, 25 years later, when Odin and London and Seduce and Wet Cherry have conclusively failed to make any kind of impression on the world at large — that these guys are delusional and going nowhere, except back to their parents’ garages by way of the free clinic and probably a rehab or two.

Anyone who has seen this movie — and if you haven’t, I would encourage you to try and find it in a less crappy-looking format, though it isn’t on any of the streaming services and appears to be out of print — remembers the Chris Holmes scene, simultaneously amusing in its ridiculousness and heartbreaking in its pathos.

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Meet The New Republicans!

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Well, it’s 2014, and you know what that means: Washington’s attention is turning to the 2016 elections! I mean why not, right? It’s only two and a half years away, and it’s a lot more fun than creating policy or governing. So while the Democrats try to talk themselves into the idea that the cure for partisan paralysis is Hillary Clinton, of all people — maybe you were too young or too impaired to remember the ’90s, but she was the single most loathed Democrat of all time — the Republicans are trying to change things up a little.

It’s been apparent for several years that the Grand Old Party has a pretty serious demographic problem, and time is not on its side: The Caucasian wedge of the U.S. population pie graph is shrinking while all the other ones are getting bigger. That’s a problem for a party that’s 98% white.

So this week, they set out to rectify the situation by showing that it’s not just cigar-chomping, straight white men huddled around big long tables discussing tax loopholes that vote Republican — it’s those guys, AND cool young people just like you!

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Gentrification Is My Fault

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This Sunday’s New York Times features a full-page article on my neighborhood in Brooklyn, entitled Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Is ‘On The Map’. This is great news for my wife and me in many respects, but it is unquestionably a sign that our neighborhood is gentrifying — it has been for a long time, but this is a sort of watershed moment, and not just in my neighborhood: Spike Lee got some attention when he weighed in on the changes in Fort Greene and Harlem, and you can hardly open your browser without some asshole spouting off about what’s happening in San Francisco.

Nobody wants to see middle-class people get pushed out of their homes, and the majority of online commentary about gentrification seems to center on the evils being done by greedy landlords. But as it happens, only a couple of years after we had to leave San Francisco because we couldn’t afford the rent, my wife and found ourselves interviewing potential tenants to live in the spare apartment in our 2-story limestone rowhouse in Brooklyn, and we don’t see things quite as simplistically as they tend to get portrayed in the current blizzard of anti-gentrification thinkpieces.

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The Bachelor Turns On The Bachelor

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For too long, I have hidden my secret shame: over the last few years I have become an avid fan of ABC’s reality (or “reality”) dating series The Bachelor and its subordinate tentacles, The Bachelorette (same thing as The Bachelor, with gender roles reversed) and Bachelor Pad (stupidest/most amazing thing on television). It’s embarrassing, because it’s the worst kind of shlock, trading in outdated fairy-tale notions of love, full of people you wouldn’t want to share a cab ride with, much less the rest of your life, competing for the love of someone the show keeps insisting (against all available evidence) is the living embodiment of a lifetime of fantasies but who actually seems to be about as interesting and viable a life partner as a plate of unbuttered noodles.

Having said that, you all screwed up bad not watching The Bachelor in this, its 18th season, because it did something totally unexpected: it threw its bachelor, Venezuelan soccer player/himbo Juan Pablo Galavis — and with him, the entire franchise — under the bus.

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You Don’t Have To Watch The Oscars

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If you have access to a television/computer/newspaper/magazine/set of functioning eyes and ears, you are surely aware that the Academy Awards are coming up this weekend. If you are someone who loves the Academy Awards, who pops popcorn and invites friends over to watch and has an Oscar pool, then I sincerely wish you a pleasant evening of entertainment and I hope you enjoy every minute of it.

But the rest of you, the ones who are going to complain on Twitter and Facebook about how long the show is, or how lame the opening song-and-dance number is, or how lame Ellen is as a host, or the injustice of Paul Walker’s obituary reel being shorter than that guy from Glee‘, take a deep breath and try to remember: you don’t have to watch the Oscars. This is not a Clockwork Orange type of situation. You have free will. Remember last year when you tweeted, “remind me not to watch the Oscars next year”? Consider yourself reminded.

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Bono Is History’s Greatest Monster

Bono speaks during the Atlantic Council Annual Awards Ceremony in Washington

Dear Bono:

May I call you Bono? That feels a little familiar, but “Mr. Bono” would be weird, and you don’t seem to use your last name at all anymore. Remember when you were Bono Vox? What happened to that? Is Wikipedia right when it says you named yourself after a hearing aid store? Sorry, I’m already digressing and I haven’t even started yet. Bono, we need to talk about the sunglasses.

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Selling Out Is No Longer A Thing

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Super Bowl XLVIII (that’s 48) was not exactly memorable. The Denver Broncos were overmatched by the Seattle Seahawks in every way a team can be overmatched, and suffered one of the most lopsided losses in Super Bowl history.

But I think this year will still be remembered, because for at least the last 25 years the Super Bowl has been about a lot more than just the game on the field. It’s about Hollywood showing off all its biggest coming attractions for the new year, and the halftime show, and of course, it’s about the commercials. And this seemed to be the year that commerce announced its hard-earned, long-fought victory over the forces of artistic integrity and the notion of “selling out.”

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What Happened To The Red Hot Chili Peppers?


MTV Australia Video Music Awards 2007

If you are suffering from a massive hangover or some kind of generalized nausea but happen to be one of those people that can’t stick your finger down your throat and “push the button” so to speak, I have a perfect solution to your problem: The new single by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Abracadabralifornia.”

This release is seemingly being timed to coincide with Super Bowl Sunday, where the Chili Peppers are set to perform at the halftime show and complete their 30-year journey from weird, wacky, totally original funk-punk hybrid with socks on their cocks to sanitized, boring, AOR crap machine. It’s been a long, strange trip, and this song is the perfect end-zone spike to drive it home.

EXCEPT: A little Googling reveals that this song is actually a parody by comedian (and obvious genius) Jon Daly. But the fact that it’s so easy to believe that it came from the actual band — it’s note-perfect, right down to the totally crass website festooned with corporate sponsorship — is more than a little disturbing, and it raises the question: What the hell happened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

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