I never thought when a son gets his mom concert tickets that you had to “pay” for them. And I never thought that meant being asked to write a review. How many Florida senior citizens can
say that?
——Florence Trakin


With Stopovers in Nashville, Lost Wages
And the Borough of Miami Beach
Remember when the Knicks-Heat rivalry meant something? As we put this Planner to bed, these two once-proud franchises are in the process of tripping over each other in another comedy of errors on TNT. The Knicks suck so bad this season that both TNT and NBC are yanking their previously scheduled games in order to present in their place some actual NBA-worthy contests featuring teams that aren’t looking at the lottery as a best-case scenario. It’s enough to make Latrell Sprewell and several thousand season-ticket holders wanna choke somebody. Fortunately, New York City has myriad other diversions to offer disaffected hoops fans, as the Jason Williams vigil (not to mention the Jayson Williams vigil) continues. Meanwhile, go Nets—and there’s always the upcoming Big East Tournament, which will finally bring some competitive basketball to Madison Square Garden. Till then…

Elvis Costello, When I Was Cruel (Island, 4/23):
Hot on the heels of Rhino’s reissue of his early catalog, the Last Angry Man returns with a vengenace on his first real rock album since his deal with PolyGram (now UMG) allowed him to make records for other labels within the group. His garage-band roots can be heard in the tremelo Silvertone guitars and original Attraction Steve Nieve’s rollicking keyboards on the jokey first single, "Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution)." That punk-rock pedigree also comes through on the N.Y. Dolls sass of "Daddy Can I Turn This?" and the autobiographical, glam-rocking, double-entendre "45," which juxtaposes a post-WWII Britain with the concurrent rise of the pop-music industry. But there are also examples of his recent collaborations with Bacharach in the insinuating melodies of the atmospheric "Spooky Girlfriend," the Dick Dale-meets-Henry Mancini noir of the title track and the sardonic "Radio Silence," a knowing sequel some 25 years later to "Radio Radio." The Middle Eastern klezmer Celtic feel of "15 Pedals" and the Hooker and Heat/"Yer Blues" swamp brew of "Dissolve" are just two more vivid colors on Costello’s encyclopedic pop pallet. David Lee Roth once said rock critics liked Elvis Costello because he looked just like them. On this album, Costello proves he thinks like one, too. —Roy Trakin

…Plus a Quarter O-Z of That Righteous Skunk Weed:
Admit it—we New Yorkers work a hell of a lot harder than you West Coast folks, what with your country-club offices and good weather. That's why it's all biz, no play in the big city this weekend. Let’s start with the two-day music industry "summit" being held at the New Yorker on Saturday and Sunday. The Global Entertainment and Media Summit promises to bring together the music, film and media worlds to discuss "reinvention." Scheduled to make keynotes are Miles Copeland [the suddenly ubiquitous Miles Copeland—Ed.]. John Waters, John Scher, Les Paul, Graham Leader & Steve Dembitzer (producers of In the Bedroom), Fred Davis, Lenedra Carroll, Don Campbell (The Mozart Effect), Peter Fasciano (Avid Technologies) and Danny Schechter (MediaChannel). Other topics on the agenda include: Alternative Film and Music Distribution, Independent Media: Staying true to your vision, Artists on Creative Control, Artist Management in the New Age, Creating New Networks, and AFTRA Presents: Maintaining creative control of your work while making as much money as you can. Fifty bucks will get you into both days of quality schmoozing, and you may even learn a thing or two. Check out www.globalentertainmentnetwork.com for more info…
On the opposite end of the global spectrum, the third annual High Times Stony Awards will take place this Sunday night at B.B. King's Blues Club & Grill in midtown Manhattan (and what a pretty global rainbow it is…). The three-hour show starts at 7 p.m. with arrivals onto the "green carpet." Afterward, Jim Breuer will host the awards ceremony, which promises to have Snoop Dogg in the house as well as other "special presenters and musical guests." Among the music categories, Redman & Method Man, the Roots, and Afroman (duh!) are among the nominees for Best Original Song in a Stoner Movie, while How High, Blow and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back are all up for Best Soundtrack. As for the highly prestigious honor of Best Stoner Movie, the nominees are Donnie Darko, How High, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Waking Life, and The Wash. Believe it or not, any and all stoners are welcome at this event. Fork over $50 you too can delight in an open bar (one can only hope it's the kind they have in Amsterdam) and take part in a celebrity smoke-fest. Just remember, it's puff, puff, pass. —Shirley Halperin

Neil Diamond at American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL (as reviewed by Roy Trakin’s mother):
I never thought when a son gets his mom concert tickets that you had to “pay” for them. And I never thought that meant being asked to write a review. How many Florida senior citizens can say that? My friend Murray and I drove the 110-mile round trip from Delray Beach to Miami’s American Airlines Arena for the show. (Do I get gas money, Roy?) I watched this arena being built, saw it on TV as a Miami Heat fan [Traitor!—Ed] , but the excitement I felt when entering was like a kid going into a candy store. There were 15,000 people of all ages, awaiting a 61-year-old pop icon from Brooklyn, N.Y., USA…just like us. And here was Roy’s mom seated right behind Neil’s mother Rose, Uncle Julie and their cronies. And even though I’m a Midwood alum, I’ll give it up for Erasmus (and Lincoln High) grad Diamond. Lights dim, and a huge Stars & Stripes rises to reveal the orchestra.
The show begins with Neil’s rendition of “America,” heard on the recent Olympics telecast. After several standing ovations, he continued with old favorites “Red Red Wine” and “Sweet Caroline,” which had everyone jumping and dancing in the aisles…even me and Murray. With the brass blasting and the audience shouting, you’ll have to forgive me if I missed a few song titles. Two enjoyable hours, without an intermission, were filled with acoustic guitar, piano, songs from his new album, Three Chord Opera, and great back-up vocalists, especially on “You Don’t Bring Me No Flowers.” All that was missing was Barbra. Performing “Best Part of Me,” Neil was joined by four young ladies, three violinists and one cello player, who rose from beneath the floor. Through the two hours-plus, Neil Diamond intermingled with his audience, talking and dancing with them, singing to them and with them. I could see Rose kvelling. The only disappointment was the show didn’t end in time for Murray and me to catch the early bird special.
Florence Trakin

An Asylum for the ’00s:
The startling breakthrough last year of the Mercury Nashville soundtrack album O Brother, Where Art Thou? enabled label head Luke Lewis to hit the ground running with his labor of love, Lost Highway Records. Armed with talented roots-based artists Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams, along with the all-star Hank Williams tribute Timeless, Lewis proceeded to do what few record execs past or present have been able to pull off: create a boutique label that not only pleases critics and wins Grammys but actually sells records! Lewis’ trump card is parent company Island Def Jam Music Group (currently the year-to-date marketshare leader) which built its industry rep through the aggressive marketing of rap records under the command of Def Jam vet Lyor Cohen.
Thus far, the partnership is proving to be as effective as it is unlikely. Indeed, in its meshing of taste and performance, Lost Highway is starting to look like the contemporary equivalent of Asylum Records, that quality-oriented label founded by David Geffen in the early ’70s that gave the world the likes of Jackson Browne, Tom Waits, Warren Zevon and, oh yeah, the Eagles, while providing a safe house for such veterans as Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt and even (for one album) Bob Dylan.
Lewis is assembling a similarly stellar roster that hits those same notes, as the esteemed Williams and the emergent Adams share quarters with upstarts (William Topley), oddballs (Billy Bob Thornton) and legends (Willie Nelson). As a consequence, every free agent writer/singer who’s ever cut a tune with a pedal steel is hoping to bend Lewis’ ear, and us rockcrits have a new game: picking those acts that would be just perfect for Lost Highway (my own wish list is headed by Matthew Sweet, the Pernice Brothers and Ron Sexsmith).
Along with the increasingly impressive Nonesuch (Emmylou Harris, Wilco, Sam Phillips), Lewis & Co. seem bent on cornering the market on prestige artists with rabid—and expandable—fan bases. Let’s hope he keeps hitting a high percentage of these babies out of the park. Bud Scoppa

Booth Sales 101: I think Abe Lincoln and I will soon have more in common than integrity and leadership. Ok, maybe that’s just him, but there’s a chance I could be killed by a booth—a booth sale. For those not familiar with Girl Scout jargon, a booth sale is the process of loading up a dozen or so irritable and energized little angels, hundreds of cases of delicious Girl Scout cookies (just $3 a box), folding tables, bags of snacks, a cooler and a first aid kit, and unloading it all at a high-traffic store location, at a high-traffic time, to set up an elaborate fire hazard in front of its sliding doors. I think the whole ordeal will be the death of me. Girl Scout cookie sales began last week, and the annual storefront solicitations are under way. My troop will be at the Culver Center this weekend, peddling Girl Scout goodness during prime-time shopping hours, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Even if we have to do a John Q on the joint and take it hostage, I am not leaving with a truckload of cookies. As their mentor, and often their crazy-ass-if-you-don’t-shut-up-I-will-beat-you commando, I must lead them through a successful sales campaign to fund their trip to camp. We will succeed, or die trying. Kenya M. Yarbrough

We Were Soldiers (Paramount):
Randall Wallace, who penned the screenplays for Mel Gibson's Oscar-winning Braveheart as well as Pearl Harbor and The Man in the Iron Mask, makes his directorial debut with this revisionist look at the first big battle of the Vietnam War, based on the non-fiction book by Lt. Gen Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. It's being pitched as the movie that restores the pride and heroism of the much-maligned Vietnam Vet and places him in context with those left behind. Lt. Colonel Hal Moore (Gibson) and 400 troopers from an elite American combat division are surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers in a place that came to be known as the Valley of Death. The ensuing fight was one of the most savage in U.S. history. What, Black Hawk Down was not enough for ya? Dunno about you, but Melle Mel seems a little long in the tooth to be defending our country, and Greg Kinnear doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the next foxhole, but one of Madeleine Stowe's increasingly rare on-screen appearances is always welcome. The intriguing Sony Music Soundtrax album includes "music from and inspired by the movie," featuring a new track by Johnny Cash and Dave Matthews, along with songs from Train, Stephen Curtis Chapman, India.Arie, Five for Fighting, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jars of Clay, Montgomery Gentry and the U.S. Military Academy Cadet Glee Club and Metro Voices. The state-of-the-art website at www.weweresoldiers.com includes an interactive map that lets you trace the battle's genesis.

40 Days and 40 Nights (Miramax): Nothing less than a high-concept, feature-length remake of the celebrated Seinfeld "Master of His Domain" episode. This youth comedy features rising star Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down) as a jilted lover who vows to give up the old in-out/in-out for Lent, before meeting the girl of his dreams and putting his, unh, firm resolve, to the test. The movie was directed by Michael Lehmann, who is responsible for one great movie (Heathers) and a number of all-time clunkers (My Giant, Airheads, Hudson Hawk), but any guy who can direct large-headed basketball freak Gheorghe Muresan as Gig Young to Billy Crystal is OK in my book. From the trailers, it even appears Lehmann may have re-captured the light romantic feel of his mostly likable The Truth About Cats and Dogs. The movie co-stars A Knight's Tale beauty Shannyn Sossamon and Monet Mazur, whose father designed the famous Rolling Stones lips-and-tongue logo for just $500 (!!). Amazing what you learn on Howard Stern. On top of that. Mr. Skin.com says there's plenty of female nudity. Speaking of, for a cool shot of Monet Mazur in a see-through negligee, click here. Highly recommended. The official www.miramax.com/40daysand40nights website takes you through the full 40-day cycle, with plot synopsis, performer credits, stills, a trailer and absolutely no s-e-x.

Scratch (Palm Pictures): A documentary on the world of the classic hip-hop DJs from Doug Pray, who directed the acclaimed '96 Hype!, a sardonic look inside the Seattle grunge scene. This film zeroes in on the origins of scratching those wheels of steel, from pioneers like Grand Wizard Theodore, Afrika Bambaataa and GrandMixer DST to new-school innovators Qbert Babu (Dilated Peoples), Mix Master Mike (Beastie Boys), the X-ecutioners, Cut Chemist & NuMark, DJ Craze, DJ Krush and DJ Premier. Executive producers include the Hughes brothers (From Hell, Menace II Society), who helped Pray edit the film like the ace turntablists he chronicles. The movie world-premiered at Sundance, has been nominated for a 2002 Independent Spirit award and was supported by a 20-city live tour featuring the film's performers, with a Bill Laswell-produced soundtrack released by Transparent Music. For more info, check the website at www.scratchmovie.com.

State Property (Lion's Gate): The film production branch of leading rap label Roc-A-Fella gets into action with this vehicle for its star-studded roster, featuring posse members Beanie Sigel, Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek and record company head Damon Dash. Video director Abdul Malik Abbott makes his feature debut with a story about a young gang leader who finds out his dream to become a local drug kingpin doesn't come without dire consequences. You're kidding... Beanie and his crew take over the city and create mayhem as they build their empire. Sigel struggles to maintain a family life while bumping heads with opposing gangsters and police, including a rival gang run by Jay-Z and Dash. Mother of god, is this the end of Beanie has kind of a ring to it, doncha think? The soundtrack features the label's top acts, with more information available on the company's www.rocafella.com/state.htm website.

Whoooo-boy! Ah jes cain’t git me enuff o’ them races what end under caution! Ah shore do hope they have some more o’ that this week, when them good ole NAYSKAR racers make fer Sin City an’ the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400. Knot. Dang, if they’s gonna end them Winston Cup races under the yaller caution flag, why don’t they change it to the danged ole Yaller-Bellied Cup? Mind you, ah don’t so much care how they end the race—they could have ’em get outta their steel steeds ’n’ run a hunnert yards for the finish, for all ah give a hoot—jes so long as they’s racin’ when they end it! As for this here weekend, mah main man Dale Jr. in the #8 Budweiser Chevy is bound ta have him some better luck than the last two weeks, so ahma go out on a limb an’say ah expeck him ta finish raht near the top. If’n he don’t win it, he’s gonna be close, boy howdy—you cain’t keep a man an’ his Budweiser down ferever.
Now let me break off a little science fer ye: This here’s Vegas, raht? Everbuddy knows it’s all about gamblin’ (an’ drinkin’—an’ whorin’—but that there’s another story). Of course, ah allus like to play me the hard eight (see above), but don’t fool around ’n’ fergit about Dale Jarrett and the #88 UPS machine! That’d be wrong. Now holt up a minnit: If’n you recall, ah been all hopped up fer Tony Stewart in the #20 Home Depot Pontiac, and 20’s a good number in Vegas—but it ain’t 21. Tony’s mah guy and all, but you cain’t beat the house with a 20, if you git mah drift. All raht, then—hear ye, hear ye, cuz this here’s the deal: When you’re in Vegas, high-rollin’ and stuff at that danged ole craps table, the number what come up most often is 6. And that jes’ happens to be good ole Mark Martin in the #6 Viagry Ford. But guess what? Ah don’t think he kin git it up this weekend, Viagry or no Viagry.
So ah says to mahself, what would Frank, Dino & Sammy do? Ah know, ah know—yer probably sayin’ to yourself, “What the hell is this guy goin’ on about?” Well, here it is: Ya roll a 2 and a 4, and that makes 6. And God knows how ah hate that purdy boy, but dang, they cain’t keep Jeff Gordon in the #24 Dupont Chevy in the back three weeks in a row. That jest ain’t accordin’ ta Hoyle. So I say bet the farm on the purdy boy. See ya at the Crazy Horse, all you Rainbow Warriors!
—Guy W.T. Goggles

Punk Rock/Heavy Metal Karaoke (Creative Arson Productions) is a hilarious documentary about the live band-backed karaoke phenomenon dreamed up by Bad Religion’s Greg Hetson, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, and Minutemen/fIREHOSE’s Mike Watt. Taking the punk-rock idea of "anyone can do it" to the logical conclusion, audience members sign up, just like regular karaoke, but with a band and instead of "I Will Survive," the song selection lends itself to classic punk rock, like the Ramones or the Stooges. This documentary focuses heavily on a New York live karaoke band that added heavy metal to the repertoire, but it also covers the idea of karaoke in general. The members of the trio who make up the live band are living out their rock & roll fantasies as much as the audience members who come up to sing. Fittingly, the backing band doesn’t have a name. It’s hilarious. If you don’t recognize yourself in one of the 25 people shown during a montage of performances of the Sex Pistols’ "Anarchy in the UK," you’re really not being honest with yourself, and perhaps some quiet reflection might suit you. Or maybe you should head out to the Canoga Park bowling alley, which features more traditional and irony-free karaoke on Saturday night. The film’s West Coast premiere is Sunday night at the Knitting Factory, Hollywood. Tickets are $7. —David Simutis

According to Style.com, there are six primary “looks” for spring/summer 2002: White (see Helmut Lang, Ralph Lauren), Vagabond (Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga), Tropicalia (Celine by Michael Kors, Roberto Cavalli), Africa (Tom Ford for YSL Rive Gauche), Pajamas (Prada, Gucci) and Fringe (Givenchy). Unfortunately, most of these “looks” are phenomenally unflattering to anyone shorter than 6 feet and weighing more than 110 lbs. If you feel compelled to embrace the trends-of-the-moment but don’t have $$$$ to spend on designer fashion, vintage might be your answer. Buy anything you can by Koos van den Akker, Ossie Clark, Giorgio di Saint’Angelo, Stephen Burrows or any vintage piece that conjures up the image of Talitha Getty or Marisa Berenson. Wear the vintage outfit once then promptly sell it on eBay, using the money to buy the new Hogan bag you’ve been coveting. My one wardrobe staple for spring is Banana Republic’s $14 sheer ribbed tank, which comes in seven colors, perfect for layering. The long-sleeve version will set you back $18. Suits are out, unless you’re in The Hives. White pants, white shirt, black jacket or black pants, black shirt, white jacket—you get the idea. —Ivana B. Adored

Underground Loaded: It's three days of rock in the R-O-C-K sense in New Yawk this weekend. Friday has the amazing Cave In at North Six. By the time their next album comes out, they'll be playing places the size of Irving, so be sure to catch them now in the smaller clubs. Saturday has Sunshine Fix and Wheat at the Bowery Ballroom. I'm not a huge fan of Olivia Tremor Control (Sunshine Fix's day job), but I really like their musical alter ego. Sunday has Avail, Hot Rod Circuit and Atom & His Package at the Knitting Factory. Atom's always a trip live, and the new Hot Rod Circuit album is actually pretty good—after a few listens. This weekend's New Jersey picks: Saturday, check out John Vanderslice at Princeton's Terrace Club, and Sunday's got Holy Childhood and Rye Coalition at Uncle Joe's.
—Heidi-Anne Noel

Coming to You Live From All Five Boroughs at Once:
It’s going to be rainy and windy in Brooklyn this weekend. Look for cloudy skies on Saturday, highs in the mid-50s, lows in the mid-40s, and winds approaching 20-25 mph. Rain should kick in late in the night, continuing through Sunday. Temps on Sunday will reach into the upper 50s. It’s going to be rainy and windy in Manhattan this weekend. Look for cloudy skies on Saturday, highs in the mid-50s, lows in the mid-40s, and winds approaching 20-25 mph. Rain should kick in late in the night, continuing through Sunday. Temps on Sunday will reach into the upper 50s. It’s going to be rainy and windy in Queens this weekend. Look for cloudy skies on Saturday, highs in the mid-50s, lows in the mid-40s, and winds approaching 20-25 mph. Rain should kick in late in the night, continuing through Sunday. Temps on Sunday will reach into the upper 50s. It’s going to be rainy and windy in the Bronx this weekend. Look for cloudy skies on Saturday, highs in the mid-50s, lows in the mid-40s, and winds approaching 20-25 mph. Rain should kick in late in the night, continuing through Sunday. Temps on Sunday will reach into the upper 50s. It’s going to be rainy and windy in Staten Island this weekend. Look for cloudy skies on Saturday, highs in the mid-50s, lows in the mid-40s, and winds approaching 20-25 mph. Rain should kick in late in the night, continuing through Sunday. Temps on Sunday will reach into the upper 50s. For those of you on the Left Coast, it will be perfect, as usual.
—David Simutis, Senior Meteorology Analyst