Monday, January 31, 2011

Christian Bale: The Beardo Exception

I still hate beards and beardos, but there's something so primal and sexy about Christian Bale's scruffy, long-haired combo. That award? For hotness.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dumb Tattoos: Rapper Edition

I've long accepted that rappers are the new rock stars, but how dare they also take the throne for dumb tattoos away from the hesher/beardo crowd? Below is a photo of T-Pain's new Facebook tattoo.

This comes on the heels of the whole Gucci Mane ice cream tattoo fiasco. What the hell is going on here, people?

Below: a favorite I took of a fine red-haired Caucasian specimen on the L train (duh). Time to up the ante, hipsters.

Speaking of tattoos: I'm now officially in the process of figuring out what to do with Texas. It's way too frustrating when US citizens ask me what state it is (c'mon son, TX has brand awareness on lock!). I also hate being a TX poseur in lieu of actually explaining to folks that I got it out of commie guilt.

It's either going to be removed or covered—but since the latter is so much more painful and dumb, that seems to be the way it's headed. Ideally, I'd like to reproduce the Into Another logo in the self-titled LP's colors. Or let someone like this guy go to town. Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Five Totally Legit Metal Docs

I tend to watch a lot of documentaries. Whether the subject is Joan Rivers, Banksy or even a font (2007's Helvetica), I'm usually riveted enough to stay put for the 90 or so minutes it takes for the subject to be analyzed and expounded upon fully.

And, much to my delight, a bevy of quality documentaries focusing on various aspects of heavy metal have come out during the past couple of years. Most recently, Lemmy, a film by Wes Orshoski and Gregg Olliver, took on the legendary Motorhead frontman, warts and all. (Gervais'd that shit.)

Inspired by the raucous and well-shot flick, here's a list of the better metal-themed docs to be released within the last few years (with an honorable shout-out to Vice's 2007 release, Heavy Metal in Baghdad).

1. Lemmy: 49% Motherfucker, 51% Son of a Bitch, 2010
With appearances by Slash, Dave Grohl, all of Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne and some guy named Jarvis Cocker, this fun—and appropriately loud—documentary is painstakingly woven together to expose the life of one of rock's most resilient bad-asses. No tales of rehab or finding God here, just sage advice to avoid cocaine in favor of speed for best health, the subtleties of girlfriend swapping with one's grown son, plus an intimate look at Lemmy's home life. It doesn't get any more real than this OG outlaw.

Go see it in theaters now, or catch it when it premieres simultaneously on VH1, VH1 Classic and Palladia on Friday, February 11 at 11:30 pm EST.

2. Anvil: The Story of Anvil, 2008
During some scenes in this lovingly captured professional fan film, it's easy to forget that Anvil drummer Robb Reiner, with this thousand-yard stare, isn't a character in the hard 'n heavy version of Waiting For Guffman. This penetrating tale of a band scraping by merely to exist, juxtaposed against vocalist/singer Steve "Lips" Kudlow's boundless enthusiasm and devotion to Anvil (not to mention his childlike naivety), ultimately pays off with a Cinderella-like ending. By all means, this is the feel-good film of the bunch.

3. Iron Maiden: Flight 666, 2009
Full disclosure: Iron Maiden is my absolute favorite classic metal band. Therefore, one would REALLY have to eff up for me to disapprove of a doc set against the first leg of their 2008 "Somewhere Back in Time" tour. Flinging to remote parts of the world at the whim of airline pilot and lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson, this glossy and great sounding concert film follows the vets from India to Mexico, Japan to Australia at breakneck speed, exploring the relationship between the icons and their fans.

4. Get Thrashed: The Story of Thrash Metal, 2006
Focusing primarily on the the '80s and '90s American thrash scene, this documentary took on its subject by dividing and conquering one region and sub-sect at a time. Not only did the film touch upon local Brooklyn haunt L'Amour, the Bay Area scene, crossover (Go Sick Of It All, D.R.I. and Leeway!), it also served up super-size helpings of the Big Four and a segment devoted to Suicidal Tendencies—all before wrapping things up nicely by introducing thrash's post-millennial forebearers.

5. Until the Light Takes Us, 2008
This ode to the Norwegian black metal uprising of the '90s and all the controversial trappings— like church burnings, murder and suicide—that went along with it are laid out plainly here. Shot digitally for the same minimalist aesthetic that Darkthrone, Mayhem, and media darling Varg Vikernes (aka Burzum) were striving to capture on their own musical recordings, the story is carried primarily through Fenriz, Darkthrone's drummer, who along with Vikernes, is able to look back on the period with equal parts nostalgia and hindsight.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Prince 3x

I was lucky enough to score tickets for the third installment of Prince's "Welcome 2 America" tour at Madison Square Garden last night. Better than the second show, but still not quite as transcendent as the first, the legend played for nearly three hours and was joined onstage by the incredible Sharon Jones (plus some Dap Kings) and jazz musician Maceo Parker.

Though he did play deep-cut classics like "Controversy," "Nothing Compares 2 U," and "The Beautiful Ones" over the course of his run, it still boggles my mind as to why he played "1999" at all three dates, but never got into "When Doves Cry" nor "I Would Die 4 U."

Other observations about last night's show: at one point, Prince brought Leighton Meester up onstage—a cushioned chaise seat already waiting for her—then proceeded to serenade the Gossip Girl with the help of Maceo Parker.  Also, the ballerina who appeared during the first two shows was seemingly replaced by some amateurish "twins" who looked like they choreographed their own dances at a sugar-buzzed sleepover party. I was genuinely concerned for them when they circled the stage in Heelys.

Despite this minor nitpicking, it was still a great honor to be in attendance. The show was inspirational, uplifting, awing. I've now seen Prince as many times as I've seen Judas Priest—and it feels just right.

For all you Paisley Park enthusiasts, here are the setlists for his December 18, December 29 and January 18 shows. And as a bonus, an extended live version of "I Would Die 4 U" from 1985. 

Double Bonus: The Twilight Singers' take on "When Doves Cry," featuring Appolonia.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

R.I.P. Bacon

Got some really sad news this morning. Merilee 666's beloved dog, Bacon, was hit by a car and killed last night. So sad. He was such a quiet, chill pup who lived to play the game, "Oops, Did My Toy Fall in the Pool?" for hours. So full of energy and love, he was only three.

He and his big black eyes will be deeply missed.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Belated Bday

Yesterday would have been Pete Steele's 49th birthday. Almost fitting that this tribute should come a day too late, given his lifelong glass-completely-empty outlook. Still hard to believe he's gone.

Hope you found your peace; you'll always be a Brooklyn legend.

I was probably at this show. Viva, L'amours. (Watch 'til the end for all his witty heavily-accented banter.)

And for all you younger fans, here's his heralded appearance on The Jerry Springer Show. He pretty much admitted to living at home with his mom.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Two Important Addendums

Shortly after compiling my final year-end lists, it came to my attention that there were some glaring omissions. Nowhere did I mention what might be the record I actually played the most last year—Iggy & The Stooges' Live at Richards, Atlanta, GA - October 1973.

Part of 2010's Legacy reissue of Raw Power, the live CD captures Iggy Pop & co. at their nihilistic best, taunting and titillating the audience through renditions of "Head On," "Open Up and Bleed," and "I Need Somebody." For anyone that couldn't be there the first time around, this is the next best thing. Seriously, go get it.

The other thing that I hadn't counted on during the winding day of 2010 was being blessed enough to see Prince play twice at Madison Square Garden. A master of R&B, funk, pop and rock—not to mention being a phenomenal guitar player—Prince put on an incredible show on a center-in-the-round stage shaped like the famous glyph he once adopted as his name. Kicking off the first performance with "Baby I'm a Star" and continuing on with classics like "The Beautiful Ones," "Let's Go Grazy/Delirious," plus an intense version of "Nothing Compares 2 U," Prince put on an energetic performance that should be the standard for all live shows.

But I really lost my shit when special guest Sheila E. came up through a platform in the center of the stage—with her standing drum kit in tow—to plow through '80s club hit, "Glamorous Life." Immediately after, she attacked her instrument for the hottest solo I've ever seen by a woman in a weave and an embroidered bustier.  Next, Prince tore through "1999," "Purple Rain" and "Kiss," but no "When Doves Cry."

It was during the encore that the most surreal thing happened: The diminutive wonder called up all the famous black people in the crowd (these included Sheri Shepherd, Spike Lee, Sinbad, Naomi Campbell, John Leguizamo, Alicia Keys, Dr. Cornell West and Whoopi Goldberg) for the last song of the night, "A Love Bazaar," again featuring original vocalist Sheila E. Incredible.

When I went back to the Garden for my second dose in 11 days, I certainly expected a different set list, which I got, but I was also hoping for a second helping of Sheila. No dice. Instead, we were treated to a piano slow-jam version of "I Wanna Be Your Lover," plus a stripped "Little Red Corvette," "Cream," and "Raspberry Beret." For the encore, he closed out the show with "Jungle Love" with guest screams by one Cyndi Lauper (which, oddly, brought me back to an issue of MAD magazine I owned when I was 9).

There's one more show at the Garden in a few weeks, and if I'm lucky enough to score tickets, you know I'll be there. Wearing sequins.

See some of my iPhone pics of the show here.