In the post-ironic age, the fact that Y-Que Trading has printed a variety
of T-shirts emblazoned with "Free Winona"—and a canvas shopping bag—is a sign that we might be returning to normal. Hey, she was only accused of four felonies.


There'll Be Six More Weeks of Winter...
Deal With It
As this first essentially football-free weekend in five months comes upon us, the question that keeps nagging us is, "When does the figure skating start?" With nothing more compelling in the offing, between the interminable opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the NFL's Faux Bowl from Honolulu and the NBA All-Star Game in Philly, we gotta go with the latter, even if the combined score exceeds 300. Happily, the Clips' Elton Brand has rightly been chosen to replace Shaq on the West squad as the Big Toejam rests his ailing size 23s. Any of these exhibitions would be preferable to sitting through the three clinkers immediately below—if you thought January's cinematic fare was low-rent, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Collateral Damage (Warner Bros.): This action pic was originally slated to open last fall, but its plot was a little too close to Sept. 11 reality, forcing the studio to postpone it until now. An L.A. firefighter played by Arnold Schwarzenegger witnesses his wife and son die in a downtown high-rise complex bombed by a Colombian terrorist and vows to track down the culprit, bin Laden style. The film has already come under fire by those who feel it's still too soon after the World Trade Center attack and critics who insist the portrayal of El Lobo, an infamous rebel leader, tarnishes all Colombians. The movie co-stars Elias Koteas (who played Gary Gilmore in the HBO film Shot in the Heart), Francesa Neri (Hannibal), John Leguizamo and John Turturro and was directed by Andrew Davis, who has cooled off considerably since his 92-93 one-two punch of Under Siege and The Fugitive. Schwarzenegger seems a little long in the tooth to be playing these action roles. The Varese Sarabande soundtrack features Graeme Revell's score, while the website at www.collateraldamage.warnerbros.com, includes trailers, production notes, multimedia downloads and a history of the Colombian civil war as a backdrop.

Rollerball (MGM): Yet another troubled production, this one a remake of the futuristic 1975 film directed by Norman Jewison and starring James Caan as a player in a violent, deadly game controlled by mega-corporate interests. Director John McTiernan, who established the framework for the modern "man in peril" action flick with his 1988 hit Die Hard, has been tinkering with the movie since its original summer release was postponed amidst rumors of a project plagued with bad advance word. The remake is set in the present, with three Americans (Chris Klein, LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) recruited by the Russian Mafia to play the sport in the independent nation of Kazakhstan. The film's ad campaign, which boasted that it was "created by the people that brought you The Fast and the Furious," came under attack from Universal, which took the studio to court to force them to drop the line. The movie's also received some poor advance word from Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool News site. Rob Zombie's "Never Gonna Stop" is being used to promote the film, with the video containing scenes from the movie. The www.rollerball.com website offers information on the rules of the game, the various teams, the vehicles, a promo for Ducati motorcycles and the opportunity to purchase Rollerball merchandise.

Big Fat Liar (Universal): Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz and Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes are toplined as best friends who seek to exact revenge on sleazy Hollywood producer Marty Wolf (the ubiquitous, but always amusing Paul Giamatti) after discovering the hated mogul has stolen Frankie's titular screenplay and turned it into a blockbuster hit movie. The trailers make the movie look awfully broad and initial reviews say it's pegged squarely at the under-teen audience, but if seeing the ever-pliable Giamatti covered in blue paint is your idea of a good time, don't let us stop you. The supporting cast includes the Six-Million Man himself, Lee Majors, and Amanda Detmer (The Majestic, Saving Silverman) as Wolf's beleaguered, much-put-upon assistant. It was directed by Shawn Levy, best-known for his work on Nickelodeon's Secret World of Alex Mack and the TV series The Famous Jett Jackson. The movie features the Baha Men's new single, "Move It Like This," though there doesn't appear to be a soundtrack. The website at www.bigfatliar.com lets you cover Wolf with fish, old socks, pies and rotten eggs; work out with Grandma Pearl; tell your tallest tale; send a Hollywood Star Card and play the Greenlight Game on the backlot of Universal Studios, where you duck slow-moving trams, trigger-happy guards, hungry sharks and big apes to get the go-ahead from the studio to film your script.
Roy Trakin

John Mayer: Inside Wants Out (self-released, 1999): On the basis of his first official album, 2001's Room for Squares (Aware/Columbia), Atlanta-based wunderkind Mayer, who just turned 24, is a remarkably accomplished songwriter and guitarist. I've been playing the record (which made my personal Top Five for the year) for people, and it's been love at first listen, especially in the case of one songwriter friend, who's begun quoting particular lyric lines to me with what sounds like reverence.
          When I mentioned Mayer to another musician pal, Tubes founder/now solo artist Bill Spooner, I discovered he was way ahead of me. Bill told me that he adored Mayer but preferred an earlier album that was mostly just his voice and acoustic guitar. Spooner's revelation inspired me to scour the Net for the obscure disc, but all I could find was a lone copy on eBay—and the bidding was closing in on 50 bucks. That price puts him in the cult-hero category (who knew?). But just the other day, to my delight, a package from Spooner's wife Anna arrived on my desk; it contained a burned copy of the rare Inside Wants Out, along with a second burned disc of live recordings. I listened. And listened.
          What's startling about these solo performances, live and studio alike, is how utterly complete they are—a vivid testament to his elevated songcraft and to the rich, song-serving guitar style he's developed. Indeed, Mayer's guitar lines on the early versions of "No Such Thing," "My Stupid Mouth" and "Neon," all on Inside Wants Out, provide the detailed blueprints for the full-band arrangements found on Room for Squares.
          Curious about the origin of the recordings on the CD-R Anna had titled Various Tracks, I sent her an inquiring e-mail. "The Mayer stuff is all over the Internet," she replied. "He allows taping at his shows and encourages trading, so there are hours and hours of shows available. Check out his Trading Page—it's pretty cool." Anna's selections included wondrous takes on "Love Song for No One," "Your Body Is a Wonderland" and "Georgia Why," along with a terrific cover of the Police's "Message in a Bottle." This guy is the real deal.
          As I dig deeper into his already plentiful oeuvre, it's obvious to me that Mayer's appeal is equal to his immense talent, which puts him on the fast track to becoming a household name. Along with fellow twentysomethings Pete Yorn and Ryan Adams, Mayer gives me confidence that his generation is fully capable of keeping the traditional rock & roll values alive and ticking. I dunno about you, but it's epiphanies like this that keep me going. Bud Scoppa

I, too, fell in love with John Mayer on first listenWXPN spinning "No Such Thing." He's my favorite new artist of 2001 and I agree he is an astute writer and that voiceoh my! Thanks for the tip on trading places.

Denise Warshany
Say Yes
Berwyn, PA
[email protected]

It Worked for Nelson Mandela: In the fine tradition of the "Free Oliver North" and "Free James Brown" campaigns, some clever hucksters in Los Angeles have risen to the defense of accused shoplifter/rock-star squeeze Winona Ryder with FreeWinona.com. Perhaps in the post-ironic age, the fact that Y-Que Trading has printed a variety of T-shirts emblazoned with "Free Winona"—and a canvas shopping bag—is a sign that we might be returning to normal. Hey, she was only accused of four felonies. It doesn't look like any of the money actually goes to her defense, but if you're the kind of person who wears a Free Winona shirt, you probably don't want her to have your money. Hurry, the preliminary hearing is March 11. Next week's site of the week: Saks Fifth Avenue.
David Simutis, Senior Law Correspondent

The following utterances were overheard outside the office of HITS Crossover Editor Liz Montalbano:
"Can you get the computer guys to fix my shit? It's all fucked up!"
"While I was in New York, I ate and I was happy and skinny. As soon as I walk into this building and eat a fucking sandwich, I'm all bloated."
"Why are muthafuckas trying to put a wrench in my shit. This is MY year."
"Angela, you need to stop fuckin' complaining every five fuckin' minutes...Can you go get me some more coffee?"
"I hate these shoes. I spent way too much and they are killing my feet. I will never wear them again."
"When I'm on the phone, you have to wait. People are so rude!"

The 2002 DIY Convention: Designed to educate musicians, filmmakers, writers and other independent artists about creative self-sufficiency, the second annual DIY shindig kicks off Friday night with the DIY Film Festival, then carries on Saturday with panels, speeches and music. Convention chairman, author and digital-media smarty-pants Bruce Haring has brought together a terrific group of guest experts, including attorneys, agents, supervisors, label folk and grassroots online peeps. Panelists include ArtistDirect's Marc Geiger, CDForge exec and Gang of Four alumnus Dave Allen, Motown's Nancy Harkness, CD Baby CEO Derek Sivers (who delivers the closing address), Zomba's Wendy Christiansen, Clear Channel's Larry Morgan, music supe Dave Jordan, composer Cliff Martinez, Universal's Bob Bernstein, Wherehouse's Violet Brown, BMI's Hanna Bolte, Wired's Brad King and musicians Pat DiNizio, Jonatha Brooke, Steve Wynn and Fabrice Morvan. The convention takes place at the Wyndham Bel-Age Hotel in West Hollywood; an awards ceremony with live music goes down Sat. night at Club 1650 in Hollywood. For more info, check out diyconvention.com or contact Josh Mills at [email protected].
Simon Glickman

Maybe It's Me: Maybe I'm getting old and out of touch. Rather, I'd like to think that this Friday night is an unusual one for shows. I can't find a single show that I can really recommend let alone talk about. So I'm copping out and just giving you the rundown of who's playing where: Bootleg Remedy at Fez, Machine Head at Irving Plaza, The Frames at Mercury Lounge, Cannibal Ox at Brownies, Real Kids at Continental and Dream Lovers at Tonic. Take a chance on one of them (or go see Slackers with super-hottie Jason Schwartzman of Phantom Planet like I'm planning on doing!). People have been saying that the new Breeders album sounds like no time has past between this one and their last, which to me, is perfectly fine. They'll be at Bowery Ballroom on Saturday. Will the new songs be good? Will the Deal sisters hash it out? We'll just have to wait and see. Sunday has the fabulously fabulous Mary J. Blige at Radio City Music Hall. Anyone who can take a stab at both P. Diddy and Mariah in her video gets a gold star in my book.
Heidi Anne-Noel

Winter Sucks: I'm tired of it, you're tired of it, but the damn groundhog said there's still six more weeks though. And if there's one thing to keep in mind about predicting the weather, it's always trust rodents. If you live in NYC, you should be hating winter right about now: Saturday will be partly sunny, highs in the mid-40s, lows in the upper 30s. Sunday will be cloudy with a chance of rain and a bit warmer than Saturday. But until it warms up to the low 70s it doesn't matter. Might as well be 30. If you're rollin' on the West Coast—and I don't know what that means, but I heard a kid in Coffee Bean say it—winter means something different: Highs in the mid-70s and lows in the upper-40s. But until the lows stay in the 60s it doesn't matter. For those of you concerned about the coming El Nino, I wasn't kidding. Complex computer models are saying that it's a good possibility.
—David Simutis, Senior Meteorology Correspondent.

What do you want from live? (6/11a)
Looks like she's got staying power. (6/11a)
We're reading the tea leaves. (6/11a)
The Black Music Month celebration continues with a classic from a legend, (6/10a)
Is there a lawyer in the house? (6/11a)
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?

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