Archives for June 2014

The Greatest Worst Rock Show Ever

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If you had a Rock Time Machine and you could go back in time to any show, what would it be? At one time I would have said the Monterey Pop Festival, the night Jimi Hendrix unfurled his massive talent for a credulous, acid-drenched crowd of rock royalty. At another time I’d have chosen Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys shows on New Year’s Eve 1969/70, memorialized on the Band of Gypsys album. Or maybe Stevie Wonder opening for the Stones on the 1972 tour. Or maybe XTC at Hammersmith Palace in 1980. Or Van Halen at the US Festival in 1982. Or the Replacements at 7th St. Entry in 1984. The list goes on and on.

But that list is a thing of the past, because from the moment I first learned about it there is only one show I would want to go back in time for: a show featuring an artist I’m not very familiar with and even less fond of.

Rick Wakeman rose to fame as the keyboardist in Yes, the early-’70s math rock unit that everyone’s heard of but no one has listened to. Despite their success, Wakeman felt that the albums Yes had released during his tenure — Fragile, Close to the Edge, and Tales From Topgraphic Oceans — were getting increasingly pretentious, mired in weird lyrics, undercooked themes, and long, indulgent instrumental passages.

So he quit the band in 1973 and as a solo artist released a string of increasingly pretentious albums mired in weird lyrics, undercooked themes, and indulgent instrumental passages: The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973); Journey to the Center of the Earth (1974); and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975).


At first glance this might just seem an ill-considered concept album that you wouldn’t want to sit through at home, much less in concert, and you’d be right, except for the addition of two little words: The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table… ON ICE.

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@realDonaldTrump For President

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This week Donald Trump is back in the news — his favorite place to be, with the possible exception of a (presumably) gold-plated tanning bed.  It seems the real estate magnate-turned-reality TV clown-turned-just plain clown built a building in Chicago a few years ago and recently made good on his promise to emblazon his name in 20-foot letters on the side of it, as is his custom. Through a spokesman, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the sign is “in very poor taste and scars what is otherwise an architecturally accomplished building,” setting off a local controversy.

Even though I don’t live in Chicago and don’t subscribe to any of the architectural journals (I just look them over in the waiting room when I go to see my architect), I was aware of this story before it hit the national media, because I belong to the select club of 2.6 million people that follows @realDonaldTrump on Twitter, one of the the greatest unintentionally funny feeds in the short history of the form.

Trump tweets about 150 times a day — note that nearly all the tweets below are from June 17, and I didn’t even use half of them. It’s amazing to me that someone who claims to be so busy with moving and shaking and importing and exporting and so forth has time to tweet so much. And it’s clear that he hasn’t hired a Social Media Strategist or just told one of his nieces to handle it — the tone is too authentically douchey to be anyone but, as the handle suggests, @realDonaldTrump.

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Let Donald Sterling Keep The Clippers

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Last night the San Antonio Spurs scored a mindblowing 71 points in the first half of game 3 of the NBA Finals against the fearsome Miami Heat. At the intermission the Spurs had not missed a shot in ten minutes of play. It was an astonishing performance, one that would ordinarily have been dissected and celebrated by the in-studio team of analysts for the duration of the halftime break — but it wasn’t. Instead, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took more questions on a topic we all thought was closed: Donald Sterling.

Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, had agreed to sell the team after his skeevy girlfriend secretly taped him on the phone saying a lot of horrifyingly racist things and the NBA swiftly banned him for life from the league and the other owners voted to strip him of ownership. Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer had an agreement to buy the team from Sterling for 2 billion (with a B) dollars, but this week Sterling abruptly changed his mind, announced he would not sell, and sued the NBA for a billion dollars.

I don’t expect Sterling’s lawsuit or his effort to keep the Clippers to succeed, and I am unclear on the legalities of owning an NBA franchise, but I wish they wouldn’t force him to sell.

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Will Smith Is Raising A Monster

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The photo above is from the recent wedding of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, an affair that was by all accounts decadent beyond all measure. Jay-Z sent an oversized bottle of wine, dipped in gold and corked with a diamond. The groom apparently threw multiple bridezilla fits just before the ceremony, rejecting both the lighting system he’d chosen himself and the greatest sound system in Europe. He sawed the bar in half himself and danced alone with his bride to five songs, played by John Legend on a marble piano. (A MARBLE PIANO.) The guests relieved themselves in a 50-foot tall comfort station made of gold.

And yet, with all of that, Kanye West was not the most narcissistic, impulsive person at the event. That honor goes to 15-year-old Jaden Smith, spinoff project of Will Smith, who attended the wedding — as you can see at the far right of the photo — in an all-white Batman costume.

An all-white Batman costume.

AN ALL-WHITE BATMAN COSTUME.

I purposely paid no attention to any of the press around this wedding, because I am not a fan of either of the principals. But somehow this one detail slipped through my self-imposed media blackout and I feel I have to speak up.

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