Saturday, August 26, 2006

Things I Like Vol. 34

Ten People/Places/Things That Rock My World:
(ok, this week it's 11...)

1) Quiz Show - dir. by Robert Redford. Television has irrevocably altered our world both by devaluing books and learning and by disengaging people, especially families, from each other. This is one of several films produced or directed by Barry Levinson that show us just how much of ourselves we have lost.

2) Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl. I wanted to dislike this book. I really did. And it is not without flaws. That being said, however, it is by far the most engaging novel by a new writer I have read in years.

3) Blue Monday: Fats Domino And the Lost Dawn of Rock 'n' Roll - Rick Coleman. Highly readable book that makes the case for Fats as one of the true fathers of rock'n'roll, and an excellent history of New Orleans to boot.

4) The River in Reverse - Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint. A true giant receives recognition from a new generation of music lovers. Too bad it took the Katrina disaster to do it.

5) New York Dolls live at South Street Seaport, 8/18/06 - Ok, so the new record isn't a masterpiece and there are only two original members left. Go see the live show. Now.

6) Little Miss Sunshine - dir. by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris. There is no substitute for a good chase scene.

7) Nanci Griffith - One of the truest, most powerful voices in music, period. She's got a new song about Vietnam that is just staggerlingly lovely. Can't wait for the record.

8) Harry & Tonto - dir. by Paul Mazursky. A time capsule of the '70s and a brilliant, heartbreaking performance by the incomparable Art Carney.

9) When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts - dir. by Spike Lee. Though there are several other major docs in the works (including one by Jonathan Demme), this is the work that will stand as the definitive portrait of the horrors of last fall. Not to be missed.

10) Michael Eric Dyson. A brilliant mind unafraid to ask the tough questions and dig deep for the answers. All his books should be required reading. See Come Hell or High Water and Is Bill Cosby Right?.

11) Douglas Brinkley. Ditto. See The Great Deluge.

Hero of the Week (3-way tie): Spike Lee, Michael Eric Dyson and Doug Brinkley for speaking truth to power. Oh yeah, and that guy in Mississippi who told Dick Cheney to fuck off. He rules.

Villain of the Week: There are so many. Pretty much every Bush administration official in Lee's film: Condi, Cheney, Brownie, Chertoff, and of course, the man himself. May they all rot in hell for all the suffering and death they have caused.

Special recognition to the citizens of New Orleans for fighting to keep their beloved city alive when some would rather see it bulldozed and gentrified--their unquenchable spirit is truly remarkable. And props also to the Gulf region just for keepin' on. God knows you won't get any help from anybody in this administration.


I have a lot more to say about the ongoing debacle in the Crescent City, so stay tuned.

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