Mixed Media

Confidential to Amy Winehouse

| Wed Jul. 2, 2008 2:20 PM EDT

winehouse-250x400.jpgI'm worried about little Amy.

I'm not a huge fan of her music, but I liked Rehab and her whole downtown, big hair, hard partying girl schtick. She's the antithesis of the fake-squeaky clean, "I'll pretend to be a virgin," blonde plastic Barbie Hollywood crams down our throats everyday.

But that was when I thought she knew what her limits, however stratospheric, were. Clearly, she does not. Way she's going, she's gonna wake up dead one day, as a grizzled old west Texas cowboy I used to know put it.

Girlfriend, fresh from a collapse and a grim diagnosis, just spoiled her reemergence by cold cocking a fan during a concert. Now, it's every woman's right—nay, her duty—to slap the crap out of any man who gropes her, but given the increasing likelihood that record companies may rethink their investment in what may be a very short career, Winehouse might oughta have let those enormous bouncers flanking her flatten the twerp. Amy, Amy, Amy—what are you doing?

But here's what I also dread: That bad-ass Amy Winehouse will get straight...and then go straight.

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The Dust-Off: The Feelies

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 6:38 PM EDT

mojo-photo-feelies.jpgThe New York Times today celebrates the return of the Feelies, the legendary New Jersey band whose minimal, focused strumming influenced bands from R.E.M. to Sonic Youth. The Feelies are opening for der Yoof at a free show in Battery Park this Friday night (which doesn't sound like any fun at all, arrrgh!), and the Times article is appropriately effusive, calling the band a "vivid apparition," and quoting various musical luminaries who give them props. But despite their influence, the band never really had mainstream success, and it seems like they're below the radar of most of today's kids. Unbelievably, their brilliant 1980 LP Crazy Rhythms isn't even on iTunes. Well, dammit, I'm getting out my scratchy old vinyl and putting it on the record player.

Boots Riley: F Bombs Not Cool in Norfolk

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 6:21 PM EDT

boots-180.jpgAfter dropping some variation of the F word at a live performance in Virginia with Galactic recently, Boots Riley, front man for Oakland's hip-hop/funk group The Coup, got slapped with abusive language charges from local police.

Riley, who Mother Jones profiled in our November/December 2007 issue, claimed the charges were racially motivated, part of a backlash from a recent Afr'Am Festival in Norfolk, at which gospel and R&B performances allegedly generated noise complaints.

The incident is not the first like it for Boots:

What is Music's "Modern Era"?

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 5:39 PM EDT

mojo-photo-modernera.jpgIn the midst of trying to decide where to put Vampire Weekend on my Top Ten of 2008 So Far, I stumbled across a set of more ambitious charts: Entertainment Weekly's attempts to rank the best stuff of the last 25 years. Dubbing their charts "The New Classics," they disqualified anything born before 1983, and it makes for an interesting look back at recent history. Their Top 100 album chart is about half-right, with some major omissions, but also some intriguing breaks with the canon. Here's their top ten:

Okay, Wall-E Was Pretty Great

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 8:48 PM EDT

mojo-photo-walle2.jpgPixar's latest animated romp Wall-E beat out Angelina Jolie as superhero assassin-recruiter-whatever flick Wanted to collect over 63 million bucks into its cute little trash-compactor belly this weekend, and after feeling a bit guilty for posting a skeptical review before even seeing it, I escaped the gay pride crowds by heading for a Saturday night showing. While I'm not really qualified to agree or disagree with the Chicago Tribune's claim that this is the "best American studio film this year," I will say it was really quite good, probably the best Pixar film yet, but not without its flaws.

The Halfway Mark: The Best Albums of 2008 So Far

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 5:42 PM EDT

mojo-photo-2008.jpgHappy bottom of the year, everybody. It's hard to believe, but 2008 is already half done, with only six months remaining for us to get our year-end best-of lists together! How will we manage? Sure, we're waiting for new discs from Beck, Black Kids, The Faint, maybe U2, and, uh, New Kids on the Block, but in the meantime, here's an admittedly subjective list of the finest full-length releases of the year so far (complete with videos!), as well as a "next 10" list of CDs nipping at their heels. Will Party Ben like experimental hip-hop and droney noise-rock this year? Click the "continues" button and find out!

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The Dust Off: Cheech and Chong

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 4:41 PM EDT

The pending release (August 12) of Tommy Chong's unauthorized biography of the infamous comedy duo Cheech & Chong shouldn't be the only reason to revisit the duo's raunchy, 70s- and 80s-era, marijuana-laden humor, such as:

Video: Jay-Z Covers Oasis at Glastonbury

| Mon Jun. 30, 2008 4:06 PM EDT

mojo-photo-jayzglasto.jpgWhen it was announced that the legendary UK music festival had chosen rapper Jay-Z as a headliner, many fans were upset that a rock band wasn't chosen like usual, and even Noel Gallagher of Oasis complained, saying "Jay-Z, I'm not f***ing having him at Glastonbury." Well good old Jay-Z took lemons and made lemonade, opening his set Saturday night with a clip of Gallagher's comments, then emerging to warble a cheeky cover of Oasis' own "Wonderwall." Despite Hova's being a bit, as they say, "pitchy," seemingly all of Glastonbury sang along:

Everybody Going Wacky for Wall-E

| Fri Jun. 27, 2008 6:32 PM EDT

mojo-photo-walle.jpgI posted about the viral web site accompanying the new Pixar project Wall-E back in October; the site, a parody of corporate propaganda, was amusing, but even back then I said the movie looked like it would be "another cutesy romp with big-eyed creatures on some sort of quest." (Yes, I just quoted myself). By now we've seen actual clips and trailers, which have only confirmed my suspicions that this is Short Circuit 3: cute bleepy robots with big googly eyes! But shut my mouth: word around the intertubes is that Wall-E is the greatest thing to get projected onto a screen since Citizen Kane. A.O. Scott in the NY Times says the film is "a cinematic poem of such wit and beauty that its darker implications may take a while to sink in," and that's just the first sentence, while Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune calls it "the best American studio film so far this year." New York Magazine's Vulture blog has even started a campaign to get the film nominated for "Best Picture" (although they did also champion that Cavemen TV show). Sure, it turns out that Wall-E's cute little robots mask what is apparently a horrifying vision of humanity's future, with Earth abandoned to garbage and humans devolved into moronic blobs. Serious stuff. But we've seen dystopian visions before, even ones with mountains of garbage, and that doesn't necessarily a good movie make, Mike Judge. Little robot Wall-E even has a love interest called, um, EVE; this whole thing sure seems like a compendium of movie clichés.

Party Ben's Gay Pride Playlist

| Fri Jun. 27, 2008 5:46 PM EDT

mojo-photo-gaymusic.jpgAs we approach LGBT pride celebrations around the country this weekend, I'm reminded of the hardships we queers face. Sure, discrimination's bad; being used as a wedge issue in political campaigns kind of sucks; friends' well-intentioned attempts to set you up with their other gay friend can be a little awkward. But honestly, you know the worst part about being gay? The music. Seriously. Say you feel like gathering with your fellow queers for an adult beverage, or maybe celebrating the political accomplishments of the past year at a parade, or something. You'll be forced to endure 10,000 spins of "It's Raining Men," endless ABBA, and an insufferable genre of music I call "Self-Help House": big piano chords accompanied by a wailing diva assuring you that "You can do it/if you believe it," or whatever. It's enough to make you swear off identity politics.

But before you switch teams, rest assured that there's good queer music out there. Here's an alternate playlist for your Pride weekend parties, complete with videos.