Rock’s Other Mick

Posted in Somebody's birthday on June 26th, 2007 by bill

Mick Jones, back when everybody thought he was cool

Born today in 1955: Clash guitarist/vocalist Mick Jones. I feel badly for Mick, and not just because of his scarifying English teeth. Although he was co-leader of the Clash — once known as “The Only Band That Matters” and still untouchably hip 30 years after hitting the scene — history has cast him as McCartney to Joe Strummer’s John Lennon. Conventional wisdom has it that Strummer was the band’s conscience, standing firm in defense of punk-rock purity, while Jones was the sellout who craved pop success.
Read more »

Pipes of Peace

Posted in Something about the Beatles on June 21st, 2007 by bill

Paul McCartney loves animals so much that he feeds them his own fingers.

And here we are, nearly halfway through two thousand and seven. It’s getting late, very late in history. With that in mind, I think it’s time to finally heal a great rift that has lingered on for far too long, a tribal conflict so ancient that those involved have a hard time remembering why it started in the first place.

I am speaking, of course, of the ongoing hostilities between the John and Paul camps. Not that there’s really much of a Paul camp anymore — you’re hard-pressed to find anyone who will stand up in public and take Paul’s side in any debate of relative merits — so maybe what I really mean is, between the John camp and Paul McCartney himself.

To put it briefly and clearly, it’s time to give Paul a break.
Read more »

Earth to Travolta: It’s Over

Posted in Whatever Else on June 17th, 2007 by bill


Picked up the paper this morning and saw John Travolta on the cover of Parade magazine with this headline:

The longtime star wonders: “Am I hot? Am I over?”

Well, I hate to be the one to say it, but: Johnny, baby, you’re on the cover of Parade magazine. Ironing. It’s over.

O Superwoman

Posted in Somebody's birthday on June 5th, 2007 by bill

A rare shot of Laurie Anderson with a normal haircut.

Musician, performance artist, and all-around intimidating brainiac babe Laurie Anderson turns 60 today. That’s right, 60. I found this hard to believe, but I double-checked and found it to be true. Yet more proof that Time Is Passing at an Alarming Rate.

I’ve been a fan ever since I heard Mr. Heartbreak, released in 1984, which featured Anderson’s trademark mix of cerebral detachment with strong senses of humor and melody. It also was my first exposure to the droll voice of William S. (Uncle Bill) Burroughs, who is heard intoning lines like “The sun’s coming up like a big bald head” and “It’s driving me crazy, it’s driving me nuts.”
Read more »

The Sopranos, end minus 1

Posted in The sacred box on June 4th, 2007 by bill


Since viewing last night’s penultimate episode of The Sopranos (and how often do you get to use the word “penultimate,” accurately anyway, in your daily discourse?), I have been mulling over a theory that is as yet half-formed, or maybe half-baked. But here goes.

There is no escaping the fact that in this run-up to the end of the series, David Chase has been wrestling with questions of morality at the highest level. Tony Soprano is a lifelong criminal, a multiple murderer, a serial adulterer, intermittently abusive to his wife and son, and on the whole a menace to society (as emphasized by lingering shots of asbestos being dumped into a lake on Tony’s authority). The question is, do Tony’s human elements — his affection for his family and friends, his self-awareness, his philosophical bent, his love of ducks, for Chrissake — balance the negatives to make him worthy of some sort of redemption? Or is he just a charming con man who uses those human elements to justify his bad behavior to those around him — and to himself?
Read more »

The Year in Philtration

Posted in Whatever Else on June 3rd, 2007 by bill

A young, bug-eyed Tom Poston molests
an also young, but already crinkly-looking,
Bob Newhart

The Philter just turned 2, which means it’s time to review the last year’s posts and issue updates, corrections, and clarifications. So without further ado:

Abe Vigoda has defied the odds again by remaining alive for another year. Among those whom he’s recently outlived are Tom Poston of Mork and Mindy and Newhart fame. Only after Poston’s death did I learn he had been married to Suzanne Pleshette, who had co-starred in a different show with Bob Newhart — although Poston’s show turned out to be a dream contained entirely within Pleshette’s show. I don’t know what it all means, and I’ve already spent entirely too much time trying to figure it out.

• Speaking of the dearly departed, I am sad to report that my favorite laundromat, Bud’s Suds, is no more. Bud’s — in 2005 the subject of a brief photoessay on the dangers of dryer abuse — is mourned by all who knew it.

• The Wu-Tang graffiti that I photographed on College Ave. has of course been subsequently painted over, and don’t I feel clever for having captured it?
Read more »