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Some of Liz Phair’s longtime fans see her new self-titled album as a sellout, and I really hope they’re right. But if for some reason you’re allergic to ear candy, that’s not my problem.

WEAKEND PLANNER GETS CAUGHT LOOKING AHEAD

How Can We Be Satisfied With Another Nondescript Weekend When There's a Mega Holiday Weekend Looming?
Is it just us, or do the weekends seem to be whizzing past lately? We don't wanna waste your valuable free time, so we'll just cut to the chase and get started; otherwise, the weekend will be over before you finish reading this doo doo.

THE POPCULT TOP 10
1. Lou Reed, June 24 at the Wiltern Theatre, L.A.:
Like his recent BMG Heritage collection, NYC Man, the Velvets founder’s current The Raven Tour 2003 is a treat for hard-core fans, programmed by mood and spotlighting some of his lesser-known work. This time out, Reed’s longtime cohorts, guitarist/keyboardist Mike Rathke and bassist Fernando Saunders (who gets several solo spotlights, including his own “Reviens Cherie”), are joined by cellist Jane Scarpantoni playing the John Cale role and seated singer Antony, as the five-piece, drummerless chamber-pop ensemble moves elegantly through the 22-song, two-and-a-half-hour set, giving Lou’s lyrics special emphasis. Reed, looking fit in black T-shirt and leather pants, is in a particularly playful mood. He starts with “Sweet Jane,” which he deconstructs for the audience, showing how it contains four chords, not just three. There are three tracks from the recently reissued epic maudit Berlin, four from the first VU album (including “Venus in Furs,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” and “Sunday Morning”), obscurities like “Ecstasy,” “The Day John Kennedy Died” and “Tell It To Your Heart,” along with two from The Raven. Reed’s Tai-Chi master, the red-silk-pajama-clad Ren Guangyi, strikes some poses during several of the songs. The set climaxes with Lou angrily pointing out someone in the audience he wants security to remove (since it’s happened before, could it be part of the act?) before finishing with a salvo of “The Last Shot,” “Perfect Day” and “Heroin.” The unlikely audience singalong to “when I put a spike into my vein,” Reed’s still-potent acting out of an addict's insatiable thirst to get high, serves as a powerful testament to the remarkable survival of its protagonist. —RT

2. Liz Phair, Liz Phair (Capitol): Some of Phair’s longtime fans see this as a sellout, and I really hope they’re right. But if  for some reason you’re allergic to ear candy, that’s not my problem. Though she fully embraces her inner pop queen here—especially on four killer collaborations with writer-producer team The Matrix—and sings with a clarity and beauty only hinted at previously, PoMo icon Phair remains a provocateur. (Or is that provocateuse?) Amid the heavenly choruses, dense walls of guitar and stacked harmonies are some decidedly raunchy lyrics. Yet they're given weight by the high emotional stakes, as on the infatuation anthem "Why Can't I," the slammin' "Extraordinary" and the Oedipal ballad "Little Digger." Meanwhile, I predict some genuine howls of outrage over the sunny, strummy pop ditty “H.W.C.” from certain tightly buttoned people—despite the fact that its rather, um, visceral refrain serves a perfectly tender sentiment. With additional production by pop geniuses like Michael Penn, R. Walt Vincent and Phair herself, the album is a joyous leap into the mainstream that leaves her wit, grit and humor intact. —SG

3. John Cusack: Those lips, those hands, that slouch! Blame it on my dear Kathy Orrico, who helped incite the first annual John Cusack Film Festival of Belmont Park Terrace, TN. After High Fidelity, Serendipity, Say Anything, America's Sweethearts, Grosse Point Blank and the new The Runaway Jury, he more than holds our collective imaginations and makes our souls stir with the depth of his doubt—which is always overcome by his will to connect. And what modern-day actor could be more genuine, more sweet, more Cary Grant? REALLY. Plus, he utters hands down maybe the best movie line ever: "I gave her my heart, and all she gave me was a pen." That kind of naked wounding given such dignity is positively swoon-inducing, and there's that wry, dry quality to his bumbling that is about as endearing as anything in this whole wide world. —HG

4. The Hard Word (Lions Gate Films): It’s a little strange to see the traditional B-movie-styled noir that was a staple of classic Hollywood now become a foreign art-house import, while the major studios turn out bloated, superstar vehicles like The Italian Job. This low-key Aussie effort is a caper film without the twists, but packing plenty of atmosphere and understated cool. Memento/L.A. Confidential’s Guy Pearce and Six Feet Under’s sultry Rachel Griffiths—worth the price of admission with a jailhouse visit that involves her smearing bodily juices onto the glass wall that separates prisoners from their visitors—head the tight-knit cast, which includes a star-making turn from Down Under vet Joel Edgerton. The film is closer to the Coens of Blood Simple than the Tarantino of Reservoir Dogs; newcomer Scott Roberts wrote and directed with workmanlike zeal, as if he’d just discovered Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing. —RT

5. How ’bout Lapdancing With Shtick? It's officially summer, and nothing says summer more than topless comedy. Please come by. It's going to be off the hook. It's going to be on point. It's going to be tight. And lots of other stuff that's really cool. And remember, it's topless. ... But if for some reason, you show up, and it's not topless ... that's totally not gonna be my fault. That will just mean that someone who's not so off the hook, not so on point, not so tight, decided that it shouldn't be topless. Not me. I'm all about the topless. (Jill Kushner Wednesday night, July 2, at The Comedy Union, 5040 W. Pico Blvd, 8 p.m.) —JK

6. Quote of the Week: "Until you lose your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is." (Gone With The Wind author Margaret Mitchell, quoted in Leonard Ray Frank’s Freedom [Random House Reference]) —HG

7. Sign of the Times: Joey Fatone is putting his womanizing ways behind him. In an interview with Craig Kilborn, the (former? sometime?) NSYNC member let it slip that he’d proposed to Kelly Baldwin, his longtime girlfriend and the mother of his 2-year-old daughter Brianna, last week. No date has been set, or if it has, Joey didn’t let that slip. Fatone will become the first member of this particular boy band to tie the knot. Hey, whatever happened to that other boy band, the Backstreet Boys? Oh, yeah—they married off. Luckily for NSYNC, Justin Timberlake is still playing the field…isn’t he?
—VN

8. Preview—The Capitol Years at Spaceland Friday: Silverlake takes on a distinctly East Coast hipster vibe Friday evening, when Philly band The Capitol Years brings its heady sound to Spaceland, accompanied by Brooklyn-bred The High Strung. Rolling Stone hears "a dash of Beck in [Shai] Halperin's voice and hooks, [plus] the twin-guitar grind of the Strokes" in their self-released EP, Jewelry Store, adding that "The six songs were cut in a week. The pleasure lasts much longer." Entertainment Weekly calls Jewelry Store "a mod-pop nugget, with nicely retro production by Pernice Brother Thom Monahan." We hear that the band kicks booty live, the youngsters having road-cured their chops on a recent tour of the U.K. with Mooney Suzuki. Unfortunately, they won't be bringing any Philly cheese steaks or Veterans Stadium seats with them, but they will be selling copies of Jewelry Store. Set time for The Capitol Years should be around 11; e-mail Shirley Halperin (Shai's sister, US Weekly's music editor and our New York correspondent) to get on the guest list. —BS

9. Maniac Hill, Pinehurst, NC: The practice range at Pinehurst is built up, like a small altar to the deltoid muscle's ability to coil and recoil. You can stand there and pound lower-compression golf balls till your heart beats in your hands—and even then not want to come down. It's not as holy as walking down #2 with the dew still on the ground, or threading the piney Par 3s on #4, but Maniac Hill is at once the great equalizer—a place where hack and pro can both be all they can be—and the great elevator. Anyone who goes up there always seems to play better. —HG

10. The Holly Inn, Pinehurst: Aside from being the place I was conceived—and hence named after—the Holly Inn is one of those quaint old Southern hotels that's neither too big nor too over the top. It's cozy. It's friendly. It reminds one of how it used to be when “motor court” was another name for motel and chains were something people wore around their necks (or put on their tires in winter), not places to sleep and eat. —HG

SHINY ROUND THINGS
Pernice Brothers, Yours, Mine & Ours (Ashmont):
“I hope this letter finds you crying,” Joe Pernice sings on “Number Two,” over a characteristically lovely melody. “It would feel so good to see you cry.” That brief passage, found near the conclusion of the Pernice Brothers’ third album, encapsulates the merger of bitter melancholy and uplifting beauty that makes the music of this single-minded band so essential. This time out, Pernice has expanded the Byrds/Beach Boys/chamber-pop palate of the two earlier albums , to winning effect, giving a nod to the Smiths on the galloping “One Foot in the Grave” and evoking early New Order on the breathless and shimmering “Sometimes I Remember.” With that trademark catch in his throat and a tenor as sweet and sultry as Joao Gilberto’s, Pernice has quietly emerged as one of the very best vocalists in contemporary pop-rock—and no rock-based writer-artist is capable of making music so lilting or writing lyrics more poetic in their emotive precision. He and his band deserve a much wider audience.
Bud Scoppa

Brand New, Deja Entendu (Razor & Tie): If one word’s overused lately, it’s “emo,” but here’s a band that both deserves and elevates the identifier. This defiantly indie N.Y. foursome has a raucously inventive sound that matches soaring choruses with nerve-bending pockets of pent-up intensity. Singer Jesse Lacey knows instinctively there’s more to it than going from a whisper to a scream, and his lyrics are as 3D as his performances: “Every line is about who I don’t want to write about anymore,” he sings, then, “Watch me as I cut myself wide open on this stage.” High points include opener “Sic Transit Gloria,” single “The Quiet Things No One Ever Knows,” “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot,” and, of course, “Good to Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have to Do Is Die.”
Jon O’Hara

The Tyde, Twice (Rough Trade America): It makes sense that legendary U.K. tastemaker Geoff Travis would sign this L.A. alt-rock band, composed of local scene veteran Darren Rademaker (Shadowland, Further) and his older brother, bassist Brent, a Beachwood Sparks alum. They filter ’60s psychedelic Brit art-pop (e.g., the Move-crossed-with-Chuck Berry neo-surf sound of “Shortboard City”) through the sunny Topanga Canyon disposition of Buffalo Springfield folk-rock (“Go Ask Yer Dad”) and the early-’90 shoegazer buzz of U.K. cult bands Ride and Felt. Pop geek Rademaker’s rueful sarcasm bleeds into the hooks, blaming marijuana for his lack of ambition in “Henry VIII” (“I’d like to get me a place down in Dana Point/But I can’t even put down this joint”), while laconically detailing the ravages of addiction on a rock band in the Velvets-inspired KCRW fave, “Blood Brothers.” Roy Trakin

TRAKIN’S PICK TO FLICK
Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (Columbia Pictures)
Premise:
Sequel to 2000 hit, which generated $125 million at the box office. Based on the ABC-TV show of the ‘70s, the Angels investigate the theft of a database of witness protection profiles, after five of the people on the list are murdered.
Stars: Dunh, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu reprise their roles, with Bernie Mac replacing Bill Murray as Bosley, Demi Moore as a “fallen former Angel,” and their old nemesis, the Thin Man (Crispin Glover). Also John Cleese, Matt LeBlanc, Robert Patrick, Luke Wilson, along with cameos by original Angel Jaclyn Smith, Pink, the Olsen twins and Bruce Willis.
Director: Music video director McG back again to helm his second feature.
Thumbs Up: Hey, it worked the first time, and the advertising blitz is as intense as ever.
Thumbs Down: Advance word is it’s a disaster, but then again, that’s what they said about the first one.
Soundtrack: Columbia Records album features the Pink single, “Feel Good Time,” new songs from Nickelback with Kid Rock (“Saturday Night’s Alright [For Fighting]”), Nas with Pharrell and David Bowie’s re-recorded version of “Rebel Rebel.” Vintage ‘70s tracks from Bon Jovi, Journey, Beach Boys, Loverboy, Edwyn Collins, Andy Gibb, MC Hammer and Donna Summer.
Website: www.sonypictures.com/movies/charliesangels
2/site_index.html
features making of segment, previews, animatedangels.com cartoon serial, trailer, official gear, downloads, wireless, promotions, latest news, Angelx game and more.

NEW YORK MINUTE
If you're in the Big Apple as you read this, better race over to Rockefeller Plaza, where Beyonce Knowles is performing RIGHT NOW on The Today Show. Later on Friday (at a far more reasonable hour), catch Sonic Youth and Wilco playing Central Park SummerStage (72nd St. and 5th Ave.). Further uptown on Saturday night, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Earth, Wind and Fire take their silky funk to the Apollo Theater (253 W. 125th St.). Or, if you’re in the mood for something more tropical, you might wanna shake your bon-bon to Ricky Martin, who headlines a Madison Square Garden show that also features Carlos Vives and Soraya (that’s between 30th and 34th St. and 7th Ave., in case you’re new in town). —Valerie Nomes

DENISE’S WEAKEND PLANNER
Ribbit, ribbit—Is it true a gal must be willing to kiss a lot of frogs in order to find her prince? Will any of these green slimy amphibians ever really turn into a handsome man with style, class and an inherited fortune—and if so, when? Is it after the first, second or third kiss? Just in case this fairytale crap is true, pucker up, gals, and start kissing. Last weekend, in my quest not to give up on a dating life in this smoggy city of singles, I went in search of frogs to kiss. Revved up by post-Justin Timberlake hormones, my friend and I went on the prowl in West Hollywood. We smiled at all the potential princes as we bypassed the line and strutted into Belly in WeHo. I don’t know if I was exuding sexual energy due to lusting after Justin for hours, or if I was just sick of being desperately single and decided to take hold of my dating situation, but I was reeling them in. I guess my super-fly tight jeans and T-shirt didn’t hurt matters, and I was fresh from the beauty salon, so I was feeling sexy and everyone knew it. Unfortunately, I met another frog that didn’t magically turn into a prince. Grin and bear this week’s cocktail, just like you’ve done while kissing all of those frogs who never became princes.

Dead Green Frog
1/5 oz. Rumple Minze
1/5 oz. Kahlua
1/5 oz. Baileys
1/5 oz. vodka
1/5 oz. green crème de menthe
Shake with ice and strain into a shot glass.

Here’s the real question—how long do you hang on to a dead frog once you’ve realized he’ll never be your prince? Is being lonely better than being with someone who doesn’t arouse you enough to be tempted to fling off your stilettos and skin-tight jeans to hop into bed with him? Is it wrong for me to give my number to a guy when I’m out with another guy? Here’s my dilemma—I was out with a nice Ben Affleck type when I spotted a sexy John Cusack type who aroused those desired erotic feelings. What does a gal do in this situation? I had two choices: Let the mystery guy leave and kick myself later or make my move. When my date went to pay his tab, I excused myself to go to the restroom and strutted into the room where the other guy was and handed him my number—he was pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong—the guy I was out with was nice, but after a few kisses, it just wasn’t happening—no butterflies, no sexual feelings, no prince. Will my mysterious stranger call me? Who knows, but I know that I couldn’t waste a Friday-night date (and a hot dress) on someone who was turning out to be another frog, so we canceled our next date, and I’m wearing the dress to tear up the town with my girlfriends instead—in search of more frogs to kiss.

De’s L.A. bar pick of the week: If you’re single and looking, you won’t be disappointed at what you find at Belly on Santa Monica Blvd. I was there last weekend and had a blast. The place was packed—with hot guys! Ladies, do yourselves a favor and go to this joint this weekend. It’s men galore—and straight ones, which in a major score in Boys Town. The place was packed and the music was good. Unfortunately, there’s not a dance floor, but that didn’t stop people from getting down and freaky with each other. The extreme darkness and incredibly close quarters at Belly are the perfect combination for spawning a post-closing-hour romp with a lucky someone. Besides offering the best singles on the market, Belly also offers a tapas bar free of L.A. attitude. The doormen are nice, which is a nice change for this city, and David the manager rocks! He made sure my friend and I had everything we needed. The owners of Belly also own the hot new restaurant Dolce on Melrose. I haven’t checked it out yet, but I hear the food is fabulous and the clientele is top-notch. Check it out for dinner, but make sure you have a rezzie, and let me know what you think. For reservations at Dolce, call (323) 852-7174.

Usually, I only pick one bar of the week, but I wanted to mention a place that was my pick last year for the Sex and the City viewing parties they had every Sunday. Sex and the City is back, and so are Lola’s viewing parties. A friend and I went last Sunday for the season premiere, and it was a great time. As usual, the bar was staffed with hot, young guys with great bodies—exactly what a gal needs while watching Carrie and her crew devour an endless line of hot men. The manager, Gerald, treated us like the queens we are. Poor guy—trying to please a room of drunk chicks is a tough job. So I’m inviting all of you ladies to partake in a little Sex every Sunday at Lola’s on Fairfax. The show starts at 9 p.m., but I’ll be there early with my posse to ensure a good table. Guys—the place is packed with females, so you’d be huge idiots not to show up. If you need directions, call Lola’s at (213) 736-5652.

I hope everyone has a great and safe weekend—remember to call a taxi. Wish me lucky frog-hunting this weekend. Ribbit. Until next week—hugs and kisses. Denise Bayles

Contributors: Denise Bayles, Darren Cava, Holly Gleason, Simon Glickman, Jill Kushner, Valerie Nome, Jon O’Hara and Roy Trakin

Edited by Bud Scoppa

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