Previous month:
January 2003
Next month:
March 2003

a little more about bruce and the grammies and i'll shut up

Norah Jones: there's some talk that the reason she won the Grammies and Bruce didn't is the same reason people thought beforehand that Bruce would be the winner: Grammy voters are a bunch of old farts who don't like anything new. The irony being that Bruce is 30 years older than Norah, but her album is the one that was generic and "nice" enough to please the old farts.

London Calling: Watching that song again, this time on the big teevee with Robin, and it was as thrilling the fifth time as it was the first. And I looked at Robin and said "Just imagine if that was Bruce all the time." He's our very favorite of favorites, and we love the E Street Band too, but once in a while, not very often at all, perhaps only a few times in his long career, something peeks out at us that reminds us Bruce Springsteen didn't have to be "Bruce Springsteen." He coulda been more of a punk rocker, for one thing ... he was channeling Joe Strummer last night, right down to the weird vocals, and it fit Bruce like the proverbial glove. Yet how many times in 30 years has Bruce let loose this punk in his soul? Well, there's last night, and ... that's about it. Even the music he made before he became famous was less Stooges-like and more basic heavy-metal-with-guitar-solos-like. But he clearly has the punk rock in him somewhere.

And then you think about all those rumored "lost" albums that Bruce is supposed to have recorded over the years ... Bruce's hip-hop album, Bruce's country album, all of them albums that wouldn't really fit into what we think of as "Bruce Springsteen," and the only way we're ever gonna hear them now is if Bruce dies before we do and they release 'em to make a few last bucks off his corpse. Once in his entire life, he actually put one of those albums out: Nebraska. And it was one of his greatest albums, and it was one of his lesser-selling albums, and the next thing he released was Born in the U.S.A. and that was that.

I don't exactly mourn that lost music. The music that isn't lost is pretty good, after all ... Bruce has brought more joy and inspiration to me the last three decades than anyone else. But watch "London Calling" again, and tell me you don't see another Bruce making a cameo appearance: one of the Lost Bruces. It was so powerful it was scary.

Joe Strummer postscript: while that version of "London Calling" did a great job of recalling the fire and anger in Strummer, none of the four vocalists captured Joe's humor. Even in the most grim Clash songs, there was a spirited near-laugh in Joe's non-voice ... it shows up more than once in "London Calling," but it wasn't there last night. I'm reminded as I type this of that lovely scene in Rude Boy when Joe is sitting at the piano and he sings "Let the Good Times Roll." I didn't really understand it back when that movie came out ... I think I get it now.

she should know

Helen Thomas is 82 years old. She was a UPI reporter for 50 of those years. She now works as a columnist, which means she gets to tell what she thinks. And what she thinks about President Bush is pretty interesting and pretty clear:

"This is the worst president ever. He is the worst president in all of American history."

oscar run x: spirit: stallion of the cimarron

I don't like movies like this ... animated features, for kids, sappy. Spirit isn't bad for the genre, though. I liked the animation, which is old-school (i.e. usually not CGI) and often lovely. It's a nice touch that the horses don't speak English (a touch that's ruined, though, when Matt Damon does a voiceover narration as the title horse) ... (and why do the Native Americans speak English in this movie?). It's interesting that this "family" film takes the side of the Indians versus the expansion-minded American soldiers.

But ultimately it's just another sappy cartoon feature for kids. Worst offender: the Bryan Adams songs on the soundtrack.

repress yourself

From "Repress Yourself" by Lauren Slater in the NYT Magazine:

While storying one's life is undoubtedly an essential human activity, the trauma industry may have overlooked this essential fact: not all of us are memoirists. Some of us tell our stories by speaking around them, a kind of Carveresque style where resolution is whispered below the level of audible language. Then again, some of us are fable writers, developing quick tales with tortoises and hares, where right and wrong have a lovely, simple sort of sound. If we are all authors of our experience, as the trauma industry has so significantly reminded us, we are not all cut from the same literary cloth. Some of us are wordy, others prefer the smooth white space between tightly packaged paragraphs. Still others might rather sing over the scary parts than express them at all."

holy shit

Just watched Bruce, Miami Steve, Elvis Costello and Dave Grohl stomp through "London Calling" as a tribute to Joe Strummer on the Grammys. My lord, it was awesome. Where Bruce got that voice, I have no idea ... maybe he was singing in a key he's not used to. No matter, he and everyone else kick the shit out of the song.

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in
Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin
nuclear error, but I have no fear
cuz London is drowning and I
I live by the river

best writing, screenplay written directly for the screen

I've seen all five nominees now:

Far from Heaven
Gangs of New York
Hable con ella
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Y tu mama tambien

My Big Fat Greek Wedding doesn't belong here in a million years; it's a sitcom, ferchrissake! Gangs of New York is an ambitious mess; Hable con ella is a good script that I don't always agree with. That leaves two. Far From Heaven pretty much does everything it sets out to do, and does it effectively. If this movie won the best screenplay Oscar, I couldn't complain. But Y tu mama tambien is easily the best movie on this list, and the screenplay had a lot to do with it. My vote if these are the choices goes to Y tu mama tambien.