Rock’s Other Mick

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.

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Pipes of Peace

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.

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Earth to Travolta: It’s Over

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


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.”

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The Sopranos, end minus 1

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?

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