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If the FCC puts a kabosh on Stern over terrestrial radio, will he make good on his threat to go over to one of the satellite services? And will that be the final straw that breaks the hold of traditional broadcasting? Or will Congress then set its sights on cable TV, XM or Sirius and, one of Attorney General John Ashcroft’s pet projects, Internet porn?

THIS WEAKEND PLANNER COMES WITH A DECORATIVE, HANDMADE MARTHA STEWART LICENSE PLATE

Triumph of the Misfittest with Larry David, Melissa Auf Der Mar, the Von Bondies, Fastball, Steve Earle and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey Team
Now that we’ve taken care of Martha Stewart, Howard Stern, the guy who kept a bunch of chimpanzees in his New York City apartment and, oh yeah, the Washington snipers, it’s time to get down to business. And that is stopping the right-wing religious conspiracy to overturn not only 40-some-odd years of social evolution, but the sacred First Amendment itself. Big media is muzzling the opposition, but, like the record industry’s fight against file-sharing, you can’t stop it, and now you can’t even contain it. If the FCC puts a kabosh on Stern over terrestrial radio, will he make good on his threat to go over to one of the satellite services? And will that be the final straw that breaks the hold of traditional broadcasting? Or will Congress then set its sights on cable TV, XM or Sirius and, one of Attorney General John Ashcroft’s pet projects, Internet porn? It’s up to you, folks. Don’t you want to make up your own mind whether to read trash like this…or do you prefer the government to decide for you? We rest our case, but certainly fail to advance it with the following opinions, which it’s your right to completely ignore.

POPCULT TOP 10
1. Curb Your Enthusiasm: It started rather tentatively, bit Larry David’s neuroses are getting more acute as the season climaxes this weekend with an hour-long episode that promises his debut in The Producers opposite a perpetually seething David Schwimmer. Last week’s masterpiece, in which Larry mixes up a Holocaust Survivor with a member of Survivor Australia was a smashup of Jewish self-loathing that reached peaks of paroxysm. Anyone who can draw attention to the reflected glare of a glass eye while bringing up that old saw about Hasidic Jews having sex through a hole in a sheet transcends contemporary pop culture in my book. As does Paul Dooley asking if he can shout, "Yippee!" instead of a mangled "Mazel tov" at the conclusion of Larry renewing his wedding vows with Dooley's daughter. (Roy Trakin)

2. The Very Best of Jackson Browne (Rhino/Elektra): This compilation coincides with Browne’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week. For the first disc alone (which includes early classics like "Doctor My Eyes," "Jamaica Say You Will," "Take It Easy," "These Days," "For Everyman," "The Pretender" and "Running on Empty"), it would seem the man once regarded as the archetype of the early ’70s SoCal singer-songwriter movement deserves the honor. Of course, as his anti-American rhetoric grew more strident, culminating in his last mainstream, jump-the-shark hit, "Lawyers In Love," his introspective charm took a beating, especially when he was accused of slapping around his one-time girlfriend Daryl Hannah. And while his audience may have drifted away (with Browne himself having recently left his longtime label, Elektra), the latter material shows the troubadour remained true to his muse. He continued to be committed to the search for love and reconciling his inner and outer selves right up until 2002’s The Naked Ride Home, which is as hard on himself as he is on a world he always found wanting. (RT)

3. Eric Clapton, Me and Mr. Johnson (Reprise): This is a no-brainer concept, and I mean that as a compliment. Clapton and his crack band—guitarists Andy Fairweather Low and Doyle Bramhall II, keyboardist Billy Preston, harp player Jerry Portnoy, bassist Nathan East and drummer Steve Gadd—are certainly up to the task of lovingly interpreting mythic Crossroads blues guitar god Robert Johnson’s most famous tunes. The interpretations are faithful, with a clean edge and electricity only the king of the English blues guitarists can bring to it. Still, it’s not easy beating definitive versions like the Stones’ "Love In Vain" or even Jack White’s take on "Stop Breakin’ Down Blues," which literally expands the pallet to a point that takes it beyond the blues back into the psychedelia forged by Clapton back in the days of Cream. A little on the clinical side, but inevitably builds to an impressive head of steam. (RT)

4. Melissa Auf Der Maur, Auf Der Maur (Capitol): I’ve always found the erstwhile bassist for Hole and Smashing Pumpkins insanely hot, so I question my own objectivity in assessing her eponymous solo debut. Even so, I submit that she makes a strong case for herself as full-fledged rock goddess. Co-produced by Auf Der Maur and rock wizard Chris Goss (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss), Auf Der Maur is by turns ferocious, infectious and mesmerizing. With assistance from the Queens’ Josh Homme and ex-bandmates James Iha and Eric Erlandson, among others, Auf Der Maur kicks up a nice head of steam, uniting the strongest currents of the last two decades of PoMo rock. Her throaty vocal is surprisingly dramatic and rich, recalling predecessors as diverse as Patti Smith, Kristin Hersh and Shirley Manson. The surging tension-release of single "Followed the Waves" (peep the video here) is the first big salvo; "Real a Lie" manages to balance a sad, melodic hook atop a furiously lean and angular rock gallop. The sinister bounce of "I’ll Be Anything You Want," the nifty harmonies and power-chord squall of "My Foggy Notion," the pretty, crunchy "Would If I Could" and the sweet-and-sour "Beast of Honor," meanwhile, demonstrate her versatility. Oh, and she’s still hot. (Simon Glickman)

5. The Von Bondies, Pawn Shoppe Heart (Sire/Reprise): Whatever’s in that Detroit water, pass a glass over here. The latest garage-rockers from the Motor City have gained some notoriety from leader Jason Stollsteimer’s scuffle with and subsequent lawsuit against one-time colleague (and co-producer of the band’s debut album) Jack White of fellow Motowners the White Stripes, but this collection has enough energy for several blood feuds. The co-educational outfit partakes of the city’s roots in metal rockers like the Stooges and Alice Cooper, with a healthy dose of midwest punkabilly icons the Cramps. "Broken Man" could well have been a reaction to the White bust-up, while the first single, "C’mon C’mon," is in the noble tradition of any number of three-chord-and-a-chorus heartland rave-uppers from the Nuggets collection like the Outsiders. (RT)

6. Fastball, Keep Your Wig On! (Rykodisc): This Austin foursome sound positively liberated on their latest album, their first in four years and debut for an indie label. Billing themselves as "the last American pop band," co-leaders Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo have buried the hatchet and decided to work together, and the result is full of Beatlesque charms and buoyant garage rock. Freed from expectations and pressure for a radio hit, the band has instead come up with 12 catchy singles possibilities. There are nods to soulful R&B ("Drifting Away"), British Invasion pop ("I Get High"), Dylanesque folk-rock ("Perfect World"), country honky-tonk ("Mercenary Girl") and the Latin/island feel that became one of the band’s definining characteristics in their huge smash, "The Way" ("Falling Upstairs," "Red Light"). Reunited with Ryko’s Rob Seidenberg, who originally signed them to Hollywood, Fastball puts this one—pardon the expression—right down the middle of the plate. (RT)

7. Steve Earle, Just an American Boy (Artemis Records DVD): Steve Earle in multi-dimensions: activist, writer, father, rock star. To see the many facets integrated into a whole makes the various threads one voice. Earle is more than a horse kicking in the stall, railing about pinko causes, a rabble rouser with a liberal agenda. He is a living, breathing force of conscience—and his music creates an even deeper arc of "YEAH" given what grounds it. Hardly glamorous, this is the world of the workingman’s songwriter/ icon—making the hero human, and utterly more inspiring. (Holly Gleason)

8. Miracle: Those of us of a certain age lived through it—the impossible dream that the Americans could take the Russians for the Olympic gold in ice hockey. Riveted to our TV sets, we all watched that most plebeian of sports—socialized almost as gladiators on ice—and held our breath, taking a little more in with every flare of ice from a sliding stop, pulling back as the shots were taken. Impossible dreams have a way of coming true. The only thing more empowering is this movie. Not only does it take you back to a time when the Cold War was literal as well as metaphorical, it offers up the balancing act, the passion, the pain, the strife and the personalities that achieved the unthinkable. And Kurt Russell as U.S. coach Herb Brooks grows up into a man of courage and conviction—fighting battles of the soul as well as the physical reality. (HG)

9. Lucero, That Much Further West (Tigerstyle): There’s a time to rock, and there’s a time to weep along to a country ballad. Memphis’ Lucero knows how to do both. With well-thought lyrics and song structure, they recall some of the greats of challenging heartland rock: Uncle Tupelo, The Replacements, Whiskeytown. That’s heady company, but Lucero’s punk attitude and alt. country delivery are properly balanced without sacrificing The Song. Singer Ben Nichols has a Southern rasp, but he isn’t afraid to go delicate on the ballads. It’s a heart-wrenching record at times, full of regret and longing, cheating and soul-searching—exactly the kind of timeless themes so common to great records. (David Simutis)

10. Tour of Roger Steffens’ house in Echo Park: The longtime reggae expert opened up his humble abode for a party dedicated to the publication of Harvey Kubernik’s This Is Rebel Music on University of New Mexico Press. Steffens’ hillside bungalo is a veritable shrine to the music, especially Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Marley and all the Wailers. There’s treasure trove of artifacts, including an original Coxsone label single signed by original Marley mentor Sir Coxsone Dodd himself. Leading us through the reggae "decompression" chamber and the reggae "basement," showing off a full cassette collection of every Marley live show ever, he laughs about a recent $100k offer from Chris Blackwell for the full collection, only to reveal a Sotheby expert valued it at $4 million. (RT)

THIS WEEK’S MIX
Singer-songwriter and former HITS wage slave Dan Zweben’s six-song EP, Made in the USA, so bristles with energy and hooks it’s like a sweet cup of coffee in a jewel case. Though he adds some rootsy elements to the mix, the melodies are right down the middle for adult-pop fans. Label and pubco peeps who’ve been keeping an eye on Zweben for a while now will certainly take notice... Another artist I’ve admired for a while, Barbara Cohen, has resurfaced with California (A Girl and Her Monster Records), an album of earthy, shimmering beauty and twangy accents that more than makes good on the promise of her earlier work. It’s strong throughout, but "Swimming Life" occupies a privileged spot in my iPod... They may not be the most innovative band on the planet, but the pop-punk kids of SoCal outfit Large Marge get points for (a) the creative and generous "Purim gift bag" they sent out to music-rag hacks like us, complete with hamentashen and tortilla chips, (b) naming themselves after the ghostly trucker in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and (c) well, just for being a hard-workin’, good-natured band. Their ingratiating, if rough, three-song demo can be obtained by emailing [email protected]. BMG’s Ultimate Alan Parsons Project may have a high cheese content—OK, a dangerously high cheese content—but there’s some undeniably innovative prog-pop fusion going on in these 18 tracks, not to mention (in my case) some vibrant memories of high school... The piano-based tunes on Jamie Cullum’s Twentysomething (streeting 5/11 on Verve) are freewheeling jazz-pop numbers limned with a nocturnal, smoky melodicism—with a pinch of Cole Porter-derived wit and more than a dash of New Orleans hot sauce. Expect his upcoming SXSW show to be packed to the rafters... (SG)

YOUR WEAKEND QUESTION
It could be the lack of sleep, could be the heat, could be the onslaught of bad news, but what I reall y want to know is this: A family pays $800 per year for an insurance plan that pays 80% of the first $1,000 in expenses and 100% of all medical expenses thereafter. In any given year, the total amount paid by the family will equal the amount paid by the plan when the family's medical expenses total what? Bust out the abacus and email me at [email protected]. (DS)

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
Secret Window (Columbia Pictures)
Premise: Based upon a Stephen King novella about a writer coming off a disturbing divorce with his ex-wife, finds himself stalked at his remote lake house by a psychotic stranger who claims the guy stole his best story idea.Stars: Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Maria Bello, Charles S. Dutton, Timothy Hutton, Len Cariou
Director: Screenwriter David Koepp (Spider-Man, Panic Room, Snake Eyes) makes his third feature after Stir of Echoes and The Trigger Effect.
Thumbs Up: Depp and Turturro make for a dynamic duo.
Thumbs Down: The trailers don’t look all that scary, but this may be more of a psychological thriller.
Soundtrack: None.
Website: www.sonypictures.com/movies/secretwindow/cms includes bios of principals, story, photos, previews, production notes.

Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (MGM)
Premise: Sequel to teen spy movie released in March, 2003, racking up $47.6 million on a budget of $26 million. Seattle teen secretly recruited by the CIA is called upon to go undercover to London to retrieve a top secret mind-control device stolen by a rogue agent.Stars: Frankie Muniz, Anthony Anderson, Keith Allen, Keith David, James Faulkner, Daniel Roebuck, Cynthia Stevenson
Director: Kevin Allen (Twin Town, The Big Tease)Thumbs Up: Doesn’t take itself too seriously.Thumbs Down: At least the latest entry in the Spy Kids series was in 3-D.Soundtrack: None.Website: www.futuresecretagent.com offers mock secret agent training in the guise of giving you all the requisite information about the film.

Spartan (Warner Bros.)
Premise: A lone wolf U.S. agent is assigned to rescue the kidnapped daughter of the resident, only to discover a larger, more sinister plot with origins within the White House itself.Stars: Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, William H. Macy, Kristen Bell
Director: Auteur/playwright David Mamet (The Spanish Prisoner, House of Games, Heist, State and Main) getting uncomfortably close to genre work.Thumbs Up: Mamet’s presence means at least it’ll be literate.Thumbs Down: Get the distinct feeling the studio isn’t expecting a blockbuster here.
Soundtrack: None.
Website: www.spartanthemovie.warnerbros.com/ offers a flash site, about the movie, cast and crew, gallery, trailer, downloads, a Mamet interview, tickets and showtime info.

YOUR WEAKEND WEATHER
After last week’s record-setting heat in the Los Angeles area, it’s been a pleasant 80 degrees this week, which will continue over the weekend. Sunny, highs in the upper 70s, lows in the mid-50s. Oh, so nice. On the other side of flyover country, it will be partly cloudy, with highs in the upper 40s and lows in the mid-30s. Spring can’t come fast enough. Those of you trying to figure out what to pack for Austin next week should know that temps there will be in the upper 70s during the day and low 50s at night. Now buy me a Shiner. (DS)

Thanks to Roy Trakin, Simon Glickman, Holly Gleason and David Simutis for making this harder than it should have been.

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ADELE ADELE ADELE
Adele; Adele Adele?
ADELE ADELE ADELE ADELE ADELE ADELE
A... dele?
ADELE ADELE
Adele Adele; Adele.
ADELE ADELE ADELE ADELE
(Adele.)
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