"They’re pulling out the body now. Can’t hear myself think with all the commotion, cops shoving people out of the way. Turns out some son-of-a-bitch got airborne trying to cross the light. Ended up in the awning of Duke’s. Bet the pigs’ll give him a jaywalking ticket..."
Why Is This August Different
From All Other Augusts?
Here in beautiful downtown Sherman Oaks, August has been impersonating October for the last couple of weeks, and the reappearance of football on TV (albeit “preseason” football, as the NFL prefers to describe it) has only served to deepen that impression. This weekend the weather will be more summery, but televised sports will be more autumnal, as college football jumps the gun with a vengeance. As it happens, football’s early arrival coincides with baseball’s early departure, all of which serves to deepen the collective sense that the world has tilted off its axis by a few degrees.

1. Fall Movies: Gangs of New York:
The return of Marty, with the movie he's been trying to make for 25 years. With Leo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis, it's got a stellar cast—but it's the prospect of Scorsese's unmatched storytelling skills unleashed on this violent, kaleidoscopic period piece that has film buffs salivating… Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: Charlie Kaufman, writer of Being John Malkovich, concocted this pseudo-biopic of Gong Show host Chuck Barris, who in this surrealistic outing lives a secret life as a CIA assassin. George Clooney co-stars and also directs, having taken the latter post in part to guarantee Sam Rockwell (the baddie who betrays Drew in Charlie's Angels) the lead… Punch Drunk Love: P.T. Anderson reportedly tones down the sprawl in this bittersweet romantic comedy co-starring, of all people, Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. This could signal a breakthrough for the former, and will undoubtedly mark the latter’s, um, first movie with Adam Sandler… Lightning round: good advance word on new offerings from Roman Polanski and Pedro Almodovar

2. James Taylor, October Road (Columbia): On the first listen you might think there are no great songs to be found on the venerable songsmith’s new LP. Don’t stop there. The more you play it, the more you’ll like it. This is an album of extraordinary warmth, and a perfect weekend multiple-listen record.

3. 24 Hour Party People (United Artists): Unique style, great music, terrific impersonation of Tony Wilson—and the guy who plays doomed Joy Division singer Ian Curtis steals the movie.

4. Mackenzie BC (Epic): While the pundits single out neo-garage rock as the most vital movement of the moment, a less talked-about but equally intriguing phenomenon is the juxtaposition of up-to-the-minute production values and classic musical moves, with a particular emphasis on the early-'70s golden age. Pete Yorn is the best-known young artist purveying this hybrid, but in recent weeks we've come across similarly striking retro-contempo albums from Maroon 5, Cousteau and Taxiride. Here's another one, from a virtual one-man band (Canadian James Renald), whose ultra-tasty debut nimbly references such non-hip but compelling vintage acts as the Eagles, solo McCartney and America. Renald cites Steely Dan as a huge influence, and you can hear it in the songs, with their glimmering surfaces and dark undercurrents. A find.

5. Big Brother 3 (CBS): Forget the CBS reality series; the REAL action, once again, is on the 24-hour Internet feed. Find out who's sleeping with who...or better yet, get a life.

6. The Baseball Strike: Enjoy the last week of MLB, sports fans, cuz—barring divine intervention—the plug will be pulled by these bozos one week from today.

7. Football Games That Count: Remember when college football didn’t start until September? That was then and this is now. This year we get more televised games earlier than ever before, starting tonight with Fresno State at Wisconsin (ESPN, 5 p.m. PDT). There are three more games on Saturday, featuring the likes of Ohio State, Nebraska and Florida State. The wait is over—hallelujah!

8. Ryan Adams, Demolition (Lost Highway): Rather than coming with four or five albums one after the other, as he’d originally intended, the most prolific rock songwriter since young Elvis Costello has been talked into consolidating his various artistic vectors into a single 13-song album. At first listen, it more closely resembles the romantic melancholy of first solo album Heartbreaker than the sprawling, rocking Gold.

9. Me Without You (Epic/Legacy/SMS): The movie stiffed, but this is one nifty soundtrack album. It concentrates on cool stuff from the late '70s and early '80s, like the Only Ones, the Stranglers, the Clash, Echo & the Bunnymen and Wreckless Eric. On the other hand, you probably own all of the above and could compile your own disc if you were so inclined.

10. Trailer to The Comedian: As you might expect, the first look at the Miramax documentary following Jerry Seinfeld’s return to stand-up comedy is not what you might expect. (You’ll need QuickTime to view it, by the way.)

Serving Sara
Friends star Matthew Perry plays a process-server—how’s that for typecasting?—who tries to deliver divorce papers to the wife (Elizabeth Hurley) of a rich Texas rancher (Sam Raimi character actor Bruce Campbell), only to have her offer him $1 million to serve them to her husband instead. You can only guess what happens next, right? Directed by Reginald Hudlin, who has finally worked his way up to complete Hollywood garbage from movies like House Party and Boomerang. The only black humor here is provided by the always-worth-watching Cedric the Entertainer, who plays Perry’s blustering boss. The website at www.servingsara.com, let’s you play a game to serve process papers to either Sara or her husband to access more features, including the story, photo gallery, cast & crew and production information and a special bonus.

Simone (New Line Cinema): This latest fantasy from writer/director Andrew Niccol (who penned Truman Show) continues his fascination with how reality is distorted and used by the mass media. Al Pacino stars as a washed-up director whose career is given a boost when he creates the perfect digital actress. The ironic kicker is the film itself creates its own cyberwoman out of a pastiche of supermodels and actresses culled from already existing images, which should send a majority of Hollywood performers straight to their shrinks. From the trailers, the satire seems awfully broad, with such talented “real” actors on hand such as Catherine Keener, who plays Pacino’s ex-wife, and Once and Again’s lovely Evan Rachel Wood as his daughter. The Varese-Sarabade soundtrack features the original score by Carter Burwell, while the website at www.s1m0ne.com lets you meet the “real” Simone, see her world tour, read her new book, view her filmography and generally create a vast alternative reality for what it calls “the most authentic star in Hollywood today.”

One Hour Photo (Fox Searchlight): Following Death to Smoochy and Insomnia, this is the third straight “departure” role for Robin Williams, who plays a lonely employee of a one-hour photo lab who develops an increasingly unnatural obsession with the suburban family of one of his customers. Williams adopts the family after viewing the photos of what looks like a perfect life, and takes responsibility to correct it when he feels it’s veering off course. The movie was written and directed by former music vid auteur Mark Romanek (Madonna, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M.) making his feature debut. The website at www.foxsearchlight.com, features developing photos of the principals accompanied by an ominous undertone, much like the film itself. Looks like a quirky dark comedy that could be worth a look, but personally, I’ve had my fill of Robin Williams being quirky over the last six months.

Undisputed (Miramax): Veteran action director Walter Hill hasn’t really done much since ’82’s48 Hours, following that box office smash with the quirky 1984 rock musical Streets of Fire and the underrated ’86 movie Crossroads about the legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson with Ralph Macchio. He returns to the film wars for his first feature in six years—since the ’96 Bruce Willis vehicle Last Man Standing—with this boxing movie. A top-ranked heavyweight (Ving Rhames, who won a Golden Globe for playing Don King) is sent to prison when he is accused and convicted of rape. While there, he immediately runs up against ten-year prison champ (Wesley Snipes), as fellow con Peter Falk recognizes the perfect opportunity to make some money as the matchmaker. Michael Rooker plays a guard and Master P also co-stars. It feels like a real, old-fashioned B-movie, a real late-summer Harvey Weinstein throwaway that maybe old pro Hill can enliven, but he certainly isn’t throwing any good money after bad, judging by the single-page at www.miramax.com/undisputed.

Also on tap: Ex-Lemonhead member Jesse Peretz follows up his acclaimed debut First Love, Last Rites with The Chateau , a comedy about two brothers who inherit a French castle. It features an international cast including Paul Rudd and French actress Sylvie TestudD.A. Pennabaker’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a true artifact of the times, a blurry, impressionistic peak at David Bowie during the height of the glitter era from London’s Hammersmith Odeon before he “broke up the band.” Check the late Mick Ronson as guitar godhead—he’s one of the most underrated of all rock axemen. Roy Trakin

Gene’s Libertine (Contra/iMusic): There was a moment in the previous decade when music magazines could wonder aloud if there’d ever be room on rock radio for domestic bands, given the dominance of Britpop. Then things changed and the same question was posed in reverse. Assuming it isn’t a zero-sum game, Gene’s latest offering should certainly win some converts. The veteran U.K. band’s knack for big choruses and singer Martin Rossiter’s emotional delivery are as satisfying as ever, and in a landscape crowded with brooding, tattooed twentysomething bands who value attitude over melody, Gene’s adherence to the pleasure principle is especially welcome. Reminiscent at times of late-period Roxy Music, this sensuous, lushly orchestrated pop record is something to sink into. Just check out the string-laden “Does He Have a Name?” or the slinky “A Simple Request,” with its slide guitar, trip-hopping groove and Rossiter’s on-the-verge vocal. Then there’s the distraught “Is It Over?” with its studied piano and feedback squall, and the return to the band’s glam roots on “With Love in Mind.” Though sonically and emotionally consistent, Libertine shows Gene opening an impressively deep stylistic toolbox, incorporating tropical rhythms, dub basslines, penthouse funk, and straight-up rock. Let’s hope its moment is at hand.
Simon Glickman

Clinic, Walking With Thee (Domino/Universal):
This Liverpool foursome prefers to hide behind surgical masks, and it’s an apt metaphor for their postmodern art-pop precision, pitched midway between Radiohead-like abstraction and Coldplay’s melodic lyricism on their third album but U.S. bow. The first track, “Harmony,” starts with an ominous synth beat straight out of The X Files and a plaintive harmonica before the solemnly intoned refrain, “Fill yourself with dreams.” “The Equaliser” is Devo crossed with “Magic Bus,” and “Welcome” has the bluesy feel of early Stones and a Bo Diddley beat, while “Pet Eunuch” recalls the jagged punk of Richard Hell & the Voidoids. Finally, the pre-apocalyptic nursery rhyme “For the Wars” provides a disquieting calm before the inevitable storm. —RT

The Polyphonic Spree, The Beginning Stages of… (Good Records): You can’t really call this Tripping Daisy spinoff a band—bands don’t have 29 members (more or less), and they don’t move nearly as much air. The Dallas-based, white-robed Sprees are more accurately described as an orchestra and choir from some parallel universe. There’s no track listing in the package nor on the website, but the latter helpfully leads you to rollingstone.com, where you can find the titles. That brassy, pounding piece that recalls Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk is titled “Call Your Father,” the track that resembles one of the Flaming Lips’ more interstellar forays is “Hangin’ Around” and the “single” is “Soldier Girl.” This wildly idiosyncratic opus will appeal to fans of the Lips, the Soft Machine and The Langley Schools Music Project. Bud Scoppa

by Lisa Teasley

This serialized story, which runs weekly in this space, is about two boys from Reno, Eddie & Penguin, who come down to LA to make it with their band. They're 21, 22-ish, one's white, one's black, they're funny & witty, and have been close since they were 10.



Eddie: Look at these flyers all over the ground. Penguin, with his cool waddle strut (why I named him), picking them up. Cost us enough, and we didn’t even throw down for color paper. Can’t believe he dragged me down to House of Blues during Dinosaur month. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foreigner! For Chrissakes. And the security guards are fucking Homo Erectus, direct descendants of the newest pea-brain from Chad.


They’re pulling out the body now. Can’t hear myself think with all the commotion, cops shoving people out of the way. Turns out some son-of-a-bitch got airborne trying to cross the light. Ended up in the awning of Duke’s. Bet the pigs’ll give him a jaywalking ticket. Still another thing Reno and L.A.’s got in common. Pigs with sticks so big and far up their asses they fuck with pedestrians. That’s right, “Here, man, take this ticket to your fucking grave.”


Penguin: Eddie pretends like accidents don’t freak him out. But he’s driving down Sunset like an old fart, his face so white it’s glowin’. Something I’ll never get used to. How white people glow in the dark.


When I wake up in the middle of the night, open the fridge for some milk, if Eddie’s passed out on the couch, the sight of his face, lit by the fridge—with the black, black Dave Navarro hair (I’m gonna mow it myself) around the white, white skin—scares me. I’ll think he’s dead, and have to stop myself from shakin’ him. I go over, listen for his breathin’. He snores so fuckin’ loud when he’s had a shit day, but when things are cool, he’s silent. I just can’t tell if he’s alive or dead.


Eddie, man, the light’s green. That means go.

I swear if there’s a New York man within a 10-mile radius of me, he will search me out and hit on me. I can’t say that I blame him. I’m cute and blonde—and apparently really modest. I’ve always heard that there are not a lot of blondes in New York, so maybe that’s the attraction. Who knows, but I’m not complaining—I love men from New York! Bring on the Yankees! To clarify, I’m not talking about the transplants that move to Manhattan to become stockbrokers or something like that. I mean the “real” ones, those who were born and raised there. Some people have a ‘type’—I have a region (I’m fond of guys from Boston, also.) It must be something about their dark hair, scruffy appearance and definitely the accent mixed with their abrasive attitudes that make this Midwestern girl scream YUMMY! I’ll admit it, New York men and Starbucks carmel macchiatos are my two addictions. This week’s cocktail of the week is dedicated to all of those men who feed my addiction and make my heart go pitter-patter.

2 oz. whiskey (choose the good stuff)
Splash sweet vermouth
Dash bitters
Garnish with a cherry.

This tangent about New York men started last week at Starbucks. I was feeding one of my addictions and in walked the other. This dark-haired hunk started my wheels turning. I couldn’t possibly be the only gal in Los Angeles that longs for this ever-so-sexy type of man. So, I sacrificed last weekend searching L.A. for the bar with the most East Coast hotties. Bon appetit, ladies!

De’s L.A. bar pick of the week: If it’s New York men you want, this place is an untapped well of handsome East Coast men—especially the bartenders! Timmy Nolan’s is a cozy Irish pub in Toluca Lake, and on any given night there is a supply of New Yorkers and Bostonians to choose from; no rivalries here. I even met a somewhat unforgettable New Yorker at this establishment not too long ago. If I can do it, so can you. On Friday nights there are two of New York’s finest eagerly waiting to serve you a stiff drink from behind the bar. The guy-to-girl ratio in this place is phenomenal. Ladies, if you play it right, you’ll never have to buy a drink. Don’t worry, guys, there’s something for you, too. The owner has single-handily found and hired the cutest wait staff ever. They’re beautiful, friendly and not afraid to flirt.

De’s diss of the week: The world must be coming to an end because there weren’t any bars that managed to piss me off this week. Since I can’t rip on any bars, I’ve decided to make fun of the some of the losers I encountered last weekend.

How NOT to be a jackass:
1. By not drinking the rest of my Guinness when I turn around because you think I’m leaving. Cheap bastard—buy your own.
2. By not being too broke to pay the bartender for the drinks you’ve ordered, especially if you are attempting to hit on any of my friends or myself. We don’t think it’s cute; to us it means no job, no money, no way in hell!
3. Lastly, by not cornering me while I’m in line for the bathroom to ask me what the ‘the pinnacle of my life’ is. After four cosmopolitans, I don’t even know what “pinnacle” means, and NO, I won’t go home with you—go away! Denise Bayles

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

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