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no witty title here

The Village Voice has released Robert Christgau:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

If this comes completely out of the blue, I apologize.

It is now official--Village Voice Media fired me today, "for taste," which means (among other things) slightly sweeter severance. This despite the support of new music editor Rob Harvilla, who I like as a person and a writer. We both believed I had won myself some kind of niche as gray eminence. So I was surprised Tuesday when I was among the eight Voice employees (five editorial, three art) who were instructed to bring their union reps to a meeting with upper management today. But I certainly wasn't shocked--my approach to music coverage has never been much like that of the New Times papers.

Bless the union, my severance is substantial enough to give me time to figure out what I'm doing next. In fact, having finished all my freelance reviews yesterday, I don't have a single assignment pending. So, since I have no intention of giving up rock criticism, all reasonable offers entertained; my phone number is in the book, as they used to say when there were books. What I don't need is a vacation--the three of us just had a great two and a half weeks, and Nina matriculated at BMCC yesterday.

No need to respond. Forward to whoever you will.

Love,

Bob Christgau


today's interesting stats

StatCounter has added a new feature for the analysis of the visitors to this blog that … well, I’m not sure I’m allowed to do this, but I’m not sure I can’t, so here goes:

Recent

It’s a picture of my last several visitors … can’t tell right off how many, or how far back it goes, but as of an hour or so ago, this is where y’all are coming from, so to speak. It’s got flaws … it checks for ISPs, not your actual house, for instance … but, since it’s a clickable Google Map, it also allows me to drag the map around (I centered it so I could fit Australia in there), and each of those little markers is clickable as well. If I click on one, I am given the kind of information which I use to create these “interesting stats” posts. I can then zoom in on those, as far down as Google Earth will take me, so that, for instance, I can tell you that the university from which a friend of mine accesses the blog had a cloud hanging over it when the last Google Earth photo was taken. This is either very cool or an enormous invasion of privacy. Or both. It’s all anonymous, of course … I’m just guessing which friend is the person in question, and no matter how closely I zoom, I can’t see my friends in their pajamas.

Since I’ve already taken up so much of your time, I’ll make the rest of this a briefer-than-usual run through the interesting stats. I can tell you that the first two strings that led folks here via search engines were related to Rescue Me (#1, “rescue me season finale” all by itself got almost 20% of the search traffic), as were five of the first six and eight of the first eleven (those eight were about 30% of the total search traffic).

Here’s this week’s “who do visitors want to see naked” tally: Robin Weigert, Christina Hendricks, “deadwood” (guess that covers all of Al and Cy’s hos along with the afore-mentioned Calamity Jane), Tricia Helfer, Charo, the inevitable Milton Berle, Kelly Reilly, Susan Sarandon’s tits, Dame Judi Dench, Polly Walker, Jennifer Connolly, Kristin Proctor, Helen Mirren (no, this wasn’t me looking … I know where to look, and it’s not on this blog, although if someone was to start a blog called “Helen Mirren’s Breasts,” I’d put it in my rss feed reader … maybe they could get an endorsement from Holland Taylor), Adrienne Barbeau, Jillian Hall, and Andrea Roth.

Visitor of the Day: the people, one from the Republic of Korea, the other from Wichita State, looking for Lynn Haney and Gregory Peck. I’m always glad to see this. Lynn Haney wrote what appears to be a scuzzy biography of Peck, wherein she quotes yours truly and gets a lot of things wrong. I wrote about the experience here, and that’s what turns up near the top of the list if you Google “lynn haney gregory peck.” Glad to be of service!


entourage season finale

I think it says something about Entourage that I have little to say about it. Most of the best series on television are the best because of their depth. Either they do a really good job of getting to the bottom of particular issues (personal, political, social, whatever) or they do a good job of getting at a wide variety of stuff. Entourage is funny sometimes, and I guess the creators think they’re saying something about how Hollywood works, although it’s not clear that anyone gives a shit. I resist the notion that Entourage is the male Sex and the City, or the Hollywood Sex and the City, or whatever version of Sex and the City you think it fits. I resist, but one similarity between the two shows is that they aren’t really very deep. Sex and the City did a good job of showing female camaraderie (at least it did when Sarah Jessica Parker wasn’t taking all the screen time), and Entourage does a good job of showing male camaraderie (like Rescue Me, but with more scampishly lovable guy-ness and less women-trashing guy-ness). But that’s about it for Entourage, and as with Sex and the City, I am not convinced that the show gets deep enough into its one real subject to warrant the bestowal of “classic” status.

I think Entourage is getting better, an opinion not everyone shares. I gave Season One a B-/C+, Season Two a B, and now I’ll give Season Three a B/B+. And I’ll give Jeremy Piven his annual Entourage MVP award, while noting that Kevin Dillon is creeping up on Piven in that category. And then I’ll forget all about Entourage until the next season, while I won’t forget about Deadwood until I have Alzheimer’s.


rescue me season finale

I think I’ll try to do this without spoilers. Suffice to say, it’s Rescue Me, it’s a season finale, you know something big is gonna happen.

Rescue Me is an infuriating show. It’s also popular with casual readers of this blog, I assume, since so many people come here via Google searchs for the show. When Rescue Me is good, it’s as good as anything on television. When it’s bad, it’s not just poor quality, it’s got a disturbing attitude, esp. towards women, and that’s unfortunate. Also unfortunately, what’s good about the show and what’s bad are entwined, because what it does better than most shows is give us men amongst men, unfiltered, funny, brotherly, loyal. When the guys are hanging around the firehouse bullshitting each other, Rescue Me is at the top of its game. Then Denis Leary’s Tommy Gavin rapes his ex-wife, she likes it, and he leaves her house with a smirk on his face.

Some have argued that Rescue Me is not about hating women. A lot of women apparently watch the show, for one thing, and this season the creators were able to get Susan Sarandon and Marisa Tomei to take on roles. But those roles were pretty pathetic. Neither lasted more than a few episodes. Sarandon showed her famous cleavage (not that I’m complaining), stole one of the main character’s daughter, and disappeared. Tomei showed a lot of skin, too, but she didn’t last any longer than Sarandon, and her plot device was insipid (to get back at his ex-wife, who has taken up with his brother, Tommy Gavin goes after his brother’s ex-wife). Both actresses were wasted. The obvious comparison is to The Shield, another testosterone-fueled FX series. When Glenn Close appeared, she lasted an entire season, and she was in effect the second lead behind Michael Chiklis.

I’m not ready to give up on Rescue Me, the way I have with shows like 30 Days (didn’t like it enough the first season) or Penn & Teller’s Bullshit (just quit watching one day, and realized I didn’t much miss it because every episode was the same as every other episode). Rescue Me has a lot to offer … among other things, it’s funnier than any of the other dramas-with-comedy. But it’s no fun to be pissed off at a show every week, and if it was just a case of button-pushing, I’d say more power to them, but they aren’t just pushing buttons, they’re being dicks. I’m reminded of what Sam Peckinpah once said (and Denis Leary may be good, but he’s no Sam Peckinpah). Peckinpah was up against something similar to what Leary had to deal with after this season’s controversial rape scene. In Straw Dogs, Susan George’s character is raped and starts to like it. When some women contested Peckinpah’s approach, he said that their expectations were overblown … what the heck, he said, I showed the guy eating her pussy, ain’t that good enough? Rescue Me didn’t even show the cunnilingus.

Grade for season finale: B+

Grade for Season Three: B (A when it’s good, C when it’s bad)


my last.fm weekly charts

These are from the period from August 21–27, and reflect not what I want you think is my excellent musical taste, but instead what I was actually listening to during the past week.

Top Artists (last week’s ranking in parentheses):

1) The Beatles (1)

2) The Rolling Stones (2)

3) Bruce Springsteen (3)

4) Peter Walker (-)

5) Neil Young (20t)

6) Creedence Clearwater Revival (20t)

7) Van Morrison (4t)

8) 8–way tie (Bowie, Doors, Beth Orton, Sleater-Kinney, Love, the Who, Sly & the Family Stone, R.E.M.)

Biggest jump is obviously Peter Walker, which is a bit misleading … I came across his album Rainy Day Raga and listened to it all the way through, once. There were ten tracks, so Walker got tagged ten times.

Top albums:

1) Beatles, Let It Be

2) Beatles, White Album

3) Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blues Kingpins

4) tie amongst five: S-K (Call the Doctor), Youngbloods (Elephant Mountain), Junior Wells (Hoodoo Man Blues), Yardbirds (Ultimate), Judy Collins (Colors of the Day)

Last week the top spot was a tie between the White Album and the Judy Collins hits package.

Top tracks:

1) a tie between “Uncle John’s Band” by the Dead and “Twilight” by Elliott Smith. 3rd place was a tie amongst 40+ songs.

Last week was a 20–track tie for first … the Dead and Smith were not on that list.


do you have three spare minutes on thursday nights?

Queer As Folk (American version) is going to be shown on Logo, a basic cable channel dedicated to programming for LGBT. As it is on basic cable, it will be “edited for content.” Two episodes, every Thursday. So if you have three minutes to spare, you can enjoy what’s left of QaF after the editing is done.

Of course, once the fucking and sucking are edited out, all that is left is silly plot devices and bad dialogue, so I don’t really know why anyone would bother watching the Logo version. You can just buy the soundtrack for when you need a dose of thumpa-thumpa.


free music

[Edited to reflect CDs that have been claimed]

Today was one of my occasional “I have too many CDs and don’t have room to store them anymore, so I better rip some to the hard drive and get rid of the discs” days. The result is that I have a bunch of CDs looking for a home, and it ain’t gonna be here. If you live in my neck of the woods and any of these sound appealing, let me know ASAP. I’m just listing artists here … too lazy to type in the entire album titles:

Dan Bern, Ruth Brown, C Average, The Delevantes, Elastica, Fugees, Macy Gray, The Handsome Family, Imperial Teen, Indigo Girls, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Alicia Keys, Jim Lauderdale, Shelby Lynne, Midnight Oil, Luis Miguel, Bob Mould, Utah Phillips, Phranc, P.M. Dawn, The Pretenders, Primitive Radio Gods, Radiohead, Screaming Trees, Randy Scruggs, Sugar, TLC, Tina Turner, Muddy Waters, Tom Waits, Wilco, Peter Wolf, Stevie Wonder, World Party, Wu-Tang Clan, and Wyclef Jean.


more deadwood

A few of the best pieces out there this morning:

Heather Havrilesky (duh … you knew she’d be here), “The gory finish

This is one of David Milch's most impressive writing strengths: messing not only with our sympathies, but also with our sense of right and wrong. It's fitting, then, that the only way to keep Trixie alive and keep the town from descending into chaos is by killing a completely innocent woman. This is the perverse logic of a lawless town, evolving into its own self-governing organism, but it's also a reflection of the way an individual generally encounters moral dilemmas: Outside of the hard and fast procedures and policies of law, we're left to weigh our own costs and benefits against the moral principles in play. In the end, most of us go with our hearts, and that's what we see Swearengen, Sol and Bullock do when they lie and sacrifice another to save Trixie's life. As an audience, we're bothered by the injustice of it, of course, but we're still relieved and grateful to see Trixie survive, since her impulse to lash out and shoot Hearst in the wake of Ellsworth's murder is a similar reflection of using your heart over your head.

Matt Zoller Seitz, “Untimely end for ‘Deadwood’ and one of its citizens

There's an incidental and unfortunate parallel between the narrative of Sunday's de facto "Deadwood" finale and the circumstances that led to the drama's cancellation: A macho showdown between two warring giants led to an unnecessary, indefensible and shockingly cruel demise….

I wanted to see Al's face as he steeled himself to commit what was surely one of the least defensible killings he'd ever been party to; instead, the sin occurred behind closed doors…. There is no telling what that young woman might have become had she lived. She wasn't ready to go, and she didn't deserve to die; she didn't see the end coming, and the fact that she was denied her humanity, treated as a pawn in a struggle she couldn't comprehend, makes the whole thing harder to take. Sometimes art imitates life without meaning to.

Alan Sepinwall, “Deadwood: Final Curtain

So we have greed and wealth (Hearst) triumphing over the rule of law (Bullock), common decency (Ellsworth) and even our famous Yankee cunning and know-how (Swearengen)…. I know Milch and our Commander-in-Chief were frat brothers, but this scenario feels eerily relevant to our current socio-political situation. As David Simon from "The Wire" likes to say, unfettered capitalism is not a social program, and Hearst represents capitalism in its purest, bleakest form.

We all knew that evil was going to triumph to some degree, in that Hearst's survival and later ascendancy to the U.S. Senate is the kind of historical fact that Milch wouldn't fudge .. but what was surprising was what a rout evil accomplished.


new poll: blog categories

OK, the new poll is up, and can be found once again in the upper left hand corner of the blog. This week’s question is: “Which category of posts on this blog do you enjoy the most?” I’ve selected four categories that seem, off the top of my head, to be the ones I use the most, added a fifth choice for “other,” and now it’s up to you. The poll will close late next Sunday.