"I consider myself a redneck and I'm absolutely not a racist. What hurts me is the board accused me of trying to spread a racist message with the shirt. I think they owe me an apology."
—--New Jersey student Tom Sypniewski
Featuring Spielberg's Robots, Redneck T-Shirts And Bernard Herrmann's Birthday
Under normal circumstances, we would be excited about the weekend, especially since next week will only be a two-day workweek for some of us. And you know how we at HITS feel about Independence Day. (Well, all of us, that is, except for Walter, who is French-Canadian and couldn’t give a rat’s ass about how our forefathers gave the British the boot.) But, somehow, none of that seems to matter today—not on this day when we find out that America’s sweetheart Julia Roberts has split from that dreamy Benjamin Bratt. I mean, how are we seriously supposed to enjoy the weekend now? They had over three great years together and now splitsville? And we’re supposed to believe hunky Hollywood bachelor George Clooney (currently co-starring with her in the Ocean’s Eleven remake) didn’t have anything to do with it? I mean, c’mon! We’re supposed to believe there’s no chemistry, no heat between them? So, once again, fate has pulled the rug out from under us, leaving us wandering and confused for yet another weekend. Seriously, if Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt can’t make love work, who can? And on that note, we're proud to feature NYC weak-end tips from Girlie Action's Heidi Ann-Noel. Heidi, you have a great career ahead of you--what were thinking?

(DreamWorks/Warner Bros.): The cineastes' film event of the summer, this is supposedly Steven Spielberg's homage to Stanley Kubrick, finishing the futuristic, sci-fi project begun by the great director and bequeathed to his heir. Warner Bros. has been doing the slow disclosure on the film's plot, which revolves around a robot who wants to be a real kid, played by Sixth Sense's spooky Haley Joel Osment, with a nod to Pinocchio, long one of Spielberg's favorite fairy tales. The result is reportedly a cross between the director's beloved E.T. and his latter, more serious, coming-of-age movies, like Empire of the Sun. Critics, for the most part, have been ecstatic, though filmgoers are apparently mixed, with many complaining that the tacked-on Spielbergian sentimentality of the last half-hour mars the intensity of what came before. The film co-stars Oscar nominee Jude Law as the youngster's cynical humanoid guide, with Sam Robards and Frances O’Connor as his parents. The Warner/Sunset soundtrack is all John Williams score, though apparently there is a Ministry song, "What About Us," in the movie. The elaborate website is at www.AImovie.com, which tells you everything you need to know about artificial intelligence, but very little about the film.

Baby Boy (Columbia Pictures): John Singleton's long-awaited sequel to his 1991 breakthrough Boyz N The Hood stars MTV heartthrob and RCA recording artist Tyrese Gibson in his big-screen debut as a "misguided, 20-year-old kid forced kicking and screaming to face the commitments of real life after fathering two children by two different women, though he still lives at home with his mom." Omar Gooding (whose older brother Cuba Gooding Jr. had a career-making performance in the first Singleton flick) plays his volatile best friend, Ving Rhames is a reformed O.G. who dates his mother and Snoop Dogg follows in the path of fellow rapper Ice Cube as an adversary from the hood. Whether Singleton can ever recapture the fire of Hood is the question, with advance word seeing the film's polemics overshadow its dramatics. The Universal Records soundtrack includes the single/video, "Just a Baby Boy," from Snoop Dogg, Tyrese and Mr. Tan, with other tracks by Raphael Saadiq, Three 6 Mafia, Marvin Gaye, Bootsy Collins, Felicia Adams and D'Angelo. The serviceable multimedia website can be found at www.sony.com/babyboy.

crazy/beautiful (Touchstone Pictures): Yet another Romeo & Juliet meets Save the Last Dance-style tale of a congressman's self-destructive daughter (a rapidly maturing Kirsten Dunst) falling in love with a hard-working, straight-A Latino student (heartthrob Jay Hernandez from MTV's Undressed), who commutes several hours to her Pacific Palisades public high school from the other side of the tracks in East L.A. A stormy romance ensues in the face of the predictable doomsaying predictions from friends and family, with a Hollywood Records soundtrack (www.hollywoodrecords.go.com/crazybeautiful), featuring leading rock en espanol bands La Ley and Serralda, Latin hip-hop legend Mellow Man Ace and PoMo/Active Rock bands Remy Zero, Seven Mary Three, Fastball and Dandy Warhols. The movie was directed by one-time actor John Stockwell, his first feature since the '87 undercover-cop-in-high-school flick, that's right, Under Cover. The film's website, which allows fans to interact with the characters, can be accessed at www.studio.go.com/movies/crazybeautiful.

Pootie Tang (MTV/Paramount): Best title for a film since Booty Call, this film from the good people at MTV was developed by writer-director Louis C.K. from a skit on producer Chris Rock's HBO series about a crime-fighting recording artist. Lance Crouther, who created (and plays) the title character, is a writer for Rock, with screenplay credits including Class Act, Fear of a Black Hat and the recent Rock starrer Down To Earth. The film co-stars stand-up veteran JB Smoove, American Pie's Jennifer Coolidge, Man From UNCLE Robert Vaughn and Rock himself. Also look for a cameo by ex-Conan O'Brien sidekick Andy Richter as a weasely record exec. For those who can't wait for Scary Movie 2, this will have to do. The Hollywood Records soundtrack (www.hollywoodrecords.go.com/pootietang) features 702's "Pootie Tangin'." along with classic tracks from Bell Biv Devoe, Master P, Erykah Badu & Rahzel, Ideal, Zapp & Roger, Shaquille O'Neal and Roscoe & Nate Dogg. Peruse the rather rudimentary website at www.pootietang.com. —Roy Trakin

Chris Whitley, Rocket House (ATO/BMG):
Ten years and six albums later, the gifted but perplexing Whitley has finally fashioned a proper follow-up to his auspicious debut, Living With the Law. Rubbing his sultry vocals and tactile slide, dobro and banjo lines against the scratching and electronics of DJ Logic, the percussive keyboards of Stephen Barber and the sinewy drumming of producer Tony Mangurian (Luscious Jackson), Whitley makes music that relies on friction as much as substance for its emotion. "To Joy" clatters along amiably like a jalopy on a dirt road, "Say Goodbye" howls lustily at the moon and "Radar" is a widescreen ballad in the grand tradition of the Stones’ "Moonlight Mile." —Bud Scoppa

Stone Temple Pilots, Shangri-LA DEE DA (Atlantic): One of PoMo’s "core" acts, STP here explores some tantalizing new musical territory while showing even greater mastery of its patented, blistering neo-glam rock. Singer Scott Weiland, guitarist Dean DeLeo and cohorts consistently impress with their versatility and passion, whether laying on a pile-driving assault for "Dumb Love" and "Coma," pulling off the hooky power-pop of single "Days of the Week," blending psychedelia and nouveau riff-rock on "Hollywood Bitch" or hitting just the right emotional stops on the soaring ballad "Wonderful." As always, producer Brendan O’Brien balances the diverse sonic elements with seeming effortlessness. While packed with potential singles, STP’s latest is an album in the classic sense—and will probably stay in your changer for a long, long time. —Simon Glickman

Tricky, Blowback (Hollywood): The raspy-voiced godfather of trip-hop has a new label and a host of collaborators on his sixth full-length. It’s an eclectic record with funky grooves ("Wonder Woman," featuring Red Hot Chili PeppersJohn Frusciante), loping PoMo (the first single, "Evolution Revolution Love," with Live’s Ed Kowalczyk) and the subterranean, noir-electronica ("Five Days," with Cyndi Lauper, of all people, sweetening the mix) that Tricky has perfected. Other guests include the RHCP’s Flea and Anthony Keidis and Ambersunshower. Tricky’s blunted sensibilities come into play on the wobbly and wiggly keyboard-soaked cover of Nirvana’s "Something in the Way," with Hawkman providing the reggae-inflected singing. Weird, but worth it. —David Simutis

It's a weekend filled with mayhem and furor as the Locust come to town for three shows: Friday at Don Hills, Saturday at ABC No Rio and Sunday at Brownies. If the Locust's bug-eyed glasses and fur vests aren't your thing, there's always the hip-shaking, booty-slapping action of the Gossip on Friday at the Polish National Home. Saturday, Bill Janovitz (of Buffalo Tom) does the solo thing at Brownies and the heavenly Gladys Knight is at Carnegie Hall. There is no excuse to miss Danielle Howle at Tonic on Sunday, as her enchanting songs and remarkable narratives brought me to tears last time I saw her. Not in the mood for heart-wrenching? Bust a move with the Tom Tom Club at Maxwells on Sunday, just make sure you leave before they do their Phish cover. Heidi Ann-Noel

"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century." —Dan Quayle

Twisted Metal Black:
Oh my, oh my, tha ruthless vato LPzeee iz outta control this week & bringin you sum sickness to your sorry-ass PS2. This game iz ugly, & if you think you have tha stomach for sum twisted shittt, this iz your game. Tha lunatics of Sweet Tooth's asylum have been loosed on each other in tha most guttural, visceral car-combat game ever. Twisted Metal Black iz a freak show of psychotics behind tha wheels of heavily armored death machines in this sequel, crafted by SCEA, the original masters who invented the car-combat explosion. Tha carnival of horror begins—thrill as tha cannibalistic Mr. Grimm blows chunks of flesh through tha doors of hiz opponent's cars! Cheer as Crazy 8 gores through steel into victims with his terrible machine of devastation. Witness the transformation of Sweet Tooth...into something even more horrible! Not for tha weak-hearted, tha action detonation of Twisted Metal Black iz tha shocking apex of tha series, with bleeding-edge graphics & merciless intense action. Anything in tha background can be blown apart and scuttled down. Any vehicle can be firebombed & nuked off tha Earth. Anything horrible & violent can very well exist here. —Latin Prince

Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president, was born Oct. 27, 1858, in NY, NY. With the assassination of President McKinley, Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest president in the nation's history. During the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt was lieutenant colonel of the Rough Rider Regiment, which he led on a charge at the battle of San Juan. Aware of the strategic need for a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific, Roosevelt ensured the construction of the Panama Canal. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War, added enormously to the national forests in the West, reserved lands for public use, and fostered great irrigation projects. While campaigning for the presidency (on the Bull Moose ticket) in Milwaukee in 1912, Roosevelt was shot in the chest by a fanatic. The wound was non-fatal. "I did not usurp power," Roosevelt once wrote, "but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power." Best Anagram Of His Name: O, soothe elder voter.

Good Thing He Didn’t Wear His Jay Leno T-Shirt: After finding his Jeff Foxworthy-inspired T-shirt offensive, school officials in New Jersey ordered student Tom Sypniewski to remove it. Sypniewski has responded by suing the school for allegedly violating his free speech rights. On March 22, the 19-year-old Sypniewski wore the shirt, which listed comic Jeff Foxworthy's "Top 10 Reasons You Might Be A Redneck Sports Fan," to Warren Hills Regional High School and was told to remove it. When he refused, he was suspended for three days, losing an appeal to the Board of Education in April. District school officials said in a press release the shirt "portrayed a message of racial stereotyping" and violated the dress code. It said the shirt could have inflamed students, given the school's two-year history of racial tensions. "I wore [the shirt] because it's funny," Sypniewski told a news conference outside U.S. District Court in Newark on Monday (6/25). "I consider myself a redneck and I'm absolutely not a racist. What hurts me is the board accused me of trying to spread a racist message with the shirt. I think they owe me an apology." Which brings to mind two things Foxworthy can add to his threadbare comedy piece: You know you’re a redneck if you think the comedy of Jeff Foxworthy is considered dangerous, or if you’re 19-years-old and still in high school. —Jeff Drake

Upcoming Birthdays
June 29-July 2
29—Bernard Herrmann (would have been 90)
30—Stanley Clarke (60)
July 1—Princess Diana (would have been 40)
2—Thurgood Marshall (93)

Special Events
July 1—Canada Day & Ducktona 500 (Sheboygan Falls, WI)
2—Feast of the Incontinent Monkeys (Indonesia)

Now With 10% Fruit Juice:
Soon, very soon, we at hitsdailydouble.com will be taking a five-day vacation. It will be a time to clear our minds…and our colons. Until then, we’ll be slaving away, making sure you get the most accurate weather and weasel news possible. Maybe. In N.Y.C., where you better not be on your cell phone while driving, Friday night will be partly cloudy, but it’ll also be dark, so you won’t notice. Low in the low 70s. Saturday, warm with a high near 90 and a low in the low 70s. Sunday, partly cloudy and a chance of thunderstorms late. High in the mid-80s, low in the upper 70s. On the Left Coast, it’s all sunshine. Highs in the low 80s, lows in the mid-60s. Nice. Very nice. Our random weather city of the week is Des Moines, IA, home of…not much. Aw, screw it. Nobody reading this cares that it will be rainy and warm on Saturday and cloudy on Sunday. More importantly, there’s a party out on the balcony, and the beer is disappearing fast. Gotta go. —David Simutis, Senior Meteorology Correspondent

Burned by her journalism teacher's scathing criticism, Jo turns out a front-page story linking him to a drug bust that gets him terminated from Eastland.

Mestel walks like a man. (10/22a)
And Q3 figures look good as well. (10/21a)
A Swift return to #1. (10/21a)
The Rumours are true. (10/23a)
Could she be this year's left-field anointed one? (10/23a)
Bring your umbrella.
Mulling possible surprises.
Why not wear a mask indoors?
What drugs will help us get there?

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