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Jonathan Lethem’s fictional world of growing up on a rapidly gentrifying city block in Brooklyn in the ’70s, The Fortress of Solitude, is all about stoopball and pristine pink spaldeens and street parties and tagging subway cars and making out for the first time and, yes, flying like a superhero from the rooftops...
TAKE THIS WEAKEND PLANNER AND SHOVE IT
Teresa Heinz Kerry Would Approve of This Weakend Planner, Which Includes a Coupla Rock Exposes, The Pixies Burning, The Rolling Stones in a Box, Lethem Weapon, Gay Pride in San Diego and Ozzfest
Baby, it’s hot outside. Our fearless trio of young event planners suggests unattractive strippers, a chili cook-off and a priest blessing cars. But wouldn’t you rather read a good book? There’s something about the summer that lends itself to sitting in a comfortable chair, feet up, immersing yourself in wunderkind novelist Jonathan Lethem’s fictional world of growing up on a rapidly gentrifying city block in Brooklyn in the ’70s, The Fortress of Solitude. It’s all about stoopball and pristine pink spaldeens and street parties with turntables and tagging subway cars and making out for the first time and, yes, flying like a superhero from the rooftops. All designed to take you away from your suburban backyard reverie. And there’s a coupla of highly touted nonfiction tomes about the wacky world of the music business seen from the point-of-view of the artist, a twisted perspective if ever there was one. Otherwise, lay back and enjoy the dog days. There’s only a month left before the dog-eat-dog days begin anew…

Friday, July 30
5:30-8:30 p.m.
Friday Night Jazz Series at
LACMA: Sure we’ve plugged this kicked back outdoor series before. But we dig the outdoor/beverages/music/ beverages/food/beverages combo big-time.

9 p.m.
Suicide Girls live burlesque tour: Something for Rockets
play with DJ Keith Morris (Circle Jerks) at the Knitting Factory (7021 Hollywood Blvd. (323) 463- 0204
9:30 p.m.

See the awesome Deepdown at the Key Club. This is a free show, so it doesn’t get much better than that.

10:30 p.m.
Coby Brown
plays at Hotel Café (1623 ½ N. Cahuenga Blvd). He’s damn soulful for a white boy. And mad sexy. And has really, really good lips. But obviously, you should go for the music.

11:50 p.m.
Catch The Manchurian Candidate late showing at the Mann Chinese Hollywood. Hopefully this crowd will talk back to the screen.

Saturday, July 31
All Day

The Int’l Surf & Health Festival runs all weekend. Check out stuff going on both on the sand and in the water! Manhattan Beach (the Strand & Manhattan Beach Blvd.)

All Day
Ozzfest 2004
: Can you believe Sharon actually managed to get Ozzy out there again? Rock out with Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Slayer, Slipknot and other bad-ass bands while calling for "Iron Man" and "War Pigs" @ the Hyundai Pavilion, Devore (909) 886-8742

9 a.m.-3: 30 p.m.
Blessing of the Cars (Pacoima): It’s a car show, it’s a picnic, but most importantly, there’s an actual blessing of the cars performed by a priest! Oh, and you might wanna see the Trash Can Band, who use cars and recycled material as instruments.

10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Danny Lyon
: Forty Years documentary photos on bike riders of the ’60s Fahey/Klein Gallery (148 N. La Brea (323) 934-2250)

5 p.m.

Garden State
written and directed by Scrubs principal Zach Braff, who stars in the movie along with Natalie Portman.

7 p.m.
Dodgers vs. Padres:
Game 1 of 3 at Petco Park in a battle for first place between bitter division rivals. Will the Dodgers have Randy Johnson or Brad Penny by then? And will the Pods nab Steve Finley in a trading deadline deal?

8 p.m.
In Los Feliz? Grab dinner at Cobras & Matadors latest local. And this one’s got a full bar along with all of those tapas (4655 Hollywood Blvd).

11 p.m.
Stay on the east side and roll into Jumbo's Clown Room. This is the dive-iest strip bar of them all. You almost feel sorry for the girls here until one of them does a trick with a cigarette that immediately gains your respect! (5153 Hollywood Blvd.)

Sunday, August 1
9-1 p.m.
Chili Cook-off and Hawaiian Festival:
This 10th annual event takes place at the Beverly Hills Farmers Market. We like that there’s a bit of a redneck event in BH! (9300 block of Civic Center Drive (310) 550-4796)

12 p.m.

See The Village. It looks all kinds of creepy. But we’re most intrigued by the robes that many of the characters sport since they must totally hide body fat.

1 p.m.
Watch the finale of the Dodgers-Padres series.

1-5 p.m.
Show and Tel: Art Connection : Art made from actual telephones! Hundreds of artists create art from the phone to create this eclectic exhibit, Zimmer Children’s Museum (6505 Wilshire Blvd. (323) 761-8994)

4 p.m.
In NYC? Lucky you. Hit up The Curiosa Festival on Randall’s Island. Aside from headliners The Cure, you’ll see Interpol, The Rapture, Mogwai, etc.

7 p.m.
Catch Riding Giants at the ArcLight (also plays at 9:30): For those who love the ocean, dude. And paying $14 for a movie ticket, dude. From the director (Stacy Peralta) of acclaimed skate culture flick Dogtown and Z-Boys.

7:30 p.m.
Sunday night at the movies continues. Join us losers and check out Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Dude, where’s my spliff?

POPCULT TOP 10
1. Jacob Slichter, So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful of Record Executives and Other True Tales From a Drummer’s Life (Broadway Books); Jesse Sublett, Never the Same Again (Boaz Publishing): These two first-person accounts of the absurdity of the modern music business from the performer’s point of view are next up on my summer reading list and the subject of positive industry buzz. The former is a rueful account by Semisonic's Harvard-educated drummer of the rise and fall of the Minneapolis PoMo band, who had a #1 record in "Closing Time," a presciently titled 1998 hit. With a degree in Afro-American studies, Slichter’s account of the industry is reportedly pretty damning on a Spinal Tap level, prompting one insider to comment, "That's what you get for signing a group with a drummer who went to Harvard." Sublett was the bassist for ’70s Austin, TX, cult band The Skunks and author of several pulp noir crime novels like Rock Critic Murders and Boiled in Concrete. This is the story of his own remarkable life, first as a musician back in the days of the original ’70s-’80s New Wave and then, his recovery from cancer in the ’90s, with a recommendation from none other than L.A. Confidential’s James Ellroy. (Roy Trakin)

2. Pixies Live at Coachella, Indio, CA, May 1, 2004 (DiscLive): Industry vets Sami Valkonen and Rich Isaacson’s DiscLive, Inc. is quietly carving out a niche for itself in the area of instant live recordings, despite the large shadow of chief competitor Clear Channel. Their venture with The Pixies was a huge success, selling out 1,000 limited edition, numbered discs recorded during the group’s U.S. comeback tour last Spring. The company also offered consumers the opportunity to make their own secure CDs through its Immediatek subsidiary NetBurn. This historic performance at Coachella is the perfect vehicle, a triumphant return for the band, captured in all their power and glory on classics like the opening "Bone Machine," "Monkey Gone to Heaven," "Velouria" and the sturdy pop anthem, "Here Comes Your Man." Plus, all the liner notes and information are available on the website at www.disclive.com. It just goes to show you that Gen Xers have every bit as much nostalgia for their past as classic-rock fans do, though the Pixies’ angular, metallic post-punk grunge has only grown with time. (RT)

3. Dip It Lower: Christina Milian sure "dipped it low" on Monday for her AOL Music Summer Concert Series spectacular at New York’s Time Warner Center, as the microphone pack pulled her low-rise jeans lower and lower throughout the set. Ever the consummate professional, she wowed the crowd, winking, prancing and posing while hitting the notes on selections like her hit single, "Dip It Low," "Someday One Day" and "Peanut Butter & Jelly" from her album It’s About Time. Old-school fans "pop-pop-popped that thang" during "A.M to P.M." Moves like this earned the new X-tina a nomination for MTV’s 2004 Viewer’s Choice Award with "Dip It Low." You go, girl! Do your part and cast a ballot here. (Valerie Nome)

4. The Rolling Stones Singles 1965-1967 (ABKCO): Allen Klein is one of the most misunderstood figures in rock & roll. Whatever you think about his business practices, he and his son Jody have been diligent about reissuing the catalogs of such icons as the Stones, Sam Cooke and Phil Spector with not only loving care, but an eye towards technological improvement. As some critics have pointed out, this series of box set reissues might seem a little superfluous, especially since each CD contains, at most, three or four songs, but after placing this set in my five-disc changer, what stands out most is the remarkable Andrew Loog Oldham production. "Satisfaction," "Get Off My Cloud," "As Tears Go By," "19th Nervous Breakdown," "Paint It Black," "Mother Little Helper," "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing in the Shadows," "Let’s Spend the Night Together" and "We Love You" represent one of the most remarkable hit streaks in pop history. This period reflects the Stones’ artistic height as a singles band; the planned next volume, which covers the years 1968-1971, charts their growth into an album (and arena-rock) icon. (RT)

5. Six Feet Under (HBO): More than a few fans were freaked out by the episode a couple of weeks ago, when the already-dark series turned uncomfortably violent with the carjacking and torture of Michael C. Hall by that psycho hitchhiker. As tough as that was to watch—I never appreciate anyone being made to suck on a gun barrell—it did jar us out of our self-satisfied, passive voyeurisism and force us to confront the consequences of our own libidinous desires. If anything, the show is digging deeper than ever into its characters, even if they do attract the "whiney" admonition that used to be aimed at another favorite series of mine, thirtysomething. If nothing else, in the crack cocaine scene of two weeks ago—when David imagined getting a blow job from his captor—and last week’s wacky ecstasy trip—as casually erotic as anything I’ve seen on TV or the movies—Six Feet Under depicts drug use with mind-blowing accuracy. (RT)

6. San Diego Pride Month: The clothes, fun and frivolity go off this weekend in Charger town. Things get started with the political rally on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Organ Pavilion (hey—I’m not the one who named it!) inside historic Balboa Park. This is followed by both a Dance and Cruise aboard the Spirit of San Diego featuring DJ Kimberly S. and a Kick-off Party at Club Montage where both DJ Bryan Pruett and Miami’s DJ Kio Kio will be doing their thing. The two primary weekend parties for the house music fans and the buff boys begin with Circuit Daze on Saturday night starting at 10 p.m. in the San Diego Sports Arena. Expect 8,000 muscular men (hate it when that happens!) and a few women to be sweating it up to the beats of DJ Phil B. ‘til 6am. Then, after some time to recover (or whatever else thousands of gay men in a several square mile radius do to pass the time), it’s off to the World Famous San Diego Zoo to party Sunday away. DJ Susan Morabito will be on the tables making it hot from 4-11pm. Finally, for those in attendance who don’t have to work on Monday like myself, trust—there are several choices of places to party ‘til the sun dawns on a new week. Look for me with my hottie, Xavier (Latin, 23 years old, ex go-go boy—yum!), in tow throughout the weekend. Can’t wait to see him again, as he was about the ONLY good thing that happened to me during my eight months in that freakin’ dust bowl known as Albuquerque, NM! (Mark Feather)

7. Jonathan Lethem, The Fortress of Solitude (Doubleday): This much-acclaimed coming-of-age-in-Brooklyn novel has been out about a year now, but I’m just catching up to it. Although only halfway through, the story’s intricate rhythms are just starting to kick in with its tale of a white boy growing up in a gentrifying ethnic neighborhood during the ’70s and ’80s who fancies himself a flying, caped superhero. Befitting Lethem’s music journalist roots (he edited Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing 2002), there’s plenty of pop references in the form of a semi-retired soul singer who’s his best friend’s father, along with the specifics of ’70s funk and the emerging graffitti/rap culture emerging full-blown directly from the streets. Reminiscent of the writing of Michael Chabon in its attention to comic book detail, the book’s viewpoint is unabashedly post-Boomer, a Generation X manifesto of life in the post-rock melting pot of urban civilization. (RT)

8. Opening of Football Training Camps: It’s pigskin season, folks. Players report this week, and it’s only about, oh, two months or so before the Jets are officially eliminated from the playoff race. Things are already off to a fast start, with now-dreadlockless Miami Dolphin running back Ricky Williams choosing blunts over punts and retiring after only five years in the league. That’s the kind of thing that usually happens to my J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets… Now, if only my man Chad Pennington makes it through the exhibition season intact. (RT)

9. Cyndi Lauper/Jennifer Marks at Greek Theatre, L.A.: Who would’ve thought the original version of Gwen Stefani still had a fan base large enough to fill two-thirds of a refurbished Greek Theater on a balmy summer night? An effervescent Lauper attracted an upbeat throng filled with soccer moms nostalgic for when they were girls just wanting to have fun as well as a majority of gay couples. Cyndi's been an icon for that crowd since the days of "True Colors" and has solidified her loyal base with a successful opening stint for Cher's recent world tour. Running into the audience and belting while standing on someone’s borrowed seat, Lauper turned out moving covers of the Animals’ "Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood" and a France-along-the-Seine version of "She Bop," her ode to masturbation, complete with accordion. The between-song patter was worthy of Bette Midler, as Cyndi turned to the woman signing for the deaf and asked if she could indicate "she-bop," which she did, to everyone's delight. The final one-two of an acoustic "Time After Time" (strummed on what appeared a lap dulcimer) and the obligatory rouser, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," brought things to a pleasingly emotional conclusion. Opening act Marks managed to win over the crowd during her warm-up set, even getting people to stand and sing along to the "yeah, yeah, yeah" chorus after playing serveral songs from her self-titled Bardic Records bow. (RT)

10. Rooftop Party at the Standard: New Yawk's Vice Magazine will invade the rooftop of downtown L.A.’s party premier hotspot this Sunday (8/1) for what is planned to be an eight-hour-long event of fab-u-lous music, glorious sunshine and a healthy intake of thick, glamorous Hollywood smog. The event features special live DJ sets from premier indie artists Dominique, Elefant, Ambulance Ltd., and a live performance from The Fever. It’s probably the most bite of the Big Apple you can plan on gettin' out here in Tinseltown for a while. Or at least until Monday night (8/2) when Elefant and Ambulance Ltd. head over to the El Rey Theater for a scheduled stop on their current U.S. co-headlining tour. Make sure you go to both. (j.shotsi)

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
The Manchurian Candidate
(Paramount)
Premise:
Remake of John Frankenheimer’s 1962 classic about the P.O.W. brainwashed to assassinate a presidential candidate as part of a conspiracy plot updated to Gulf War.
Stars:
Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight, Kimberly Elise, Jeffrey Wright, Bruno Ganz
Director:
Oscar winner Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) trying to make amends for his misfire on the Charade remake, The Truth About Charlie.
Thumbs Up:
With this cast and a solid plot, how can it go wrong?
Thumbs Down:
There are no actual Manchurians in the movie.
Soundtrack:
None
Website:
www.manchuriancandidatemovie.com

The Village (Touchstone)
Premise:
A village in the late 18th century which has always lived in harmony with the mythical creatures in the surrounding forest suddenly find them invading its turf.
Stars:
Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Brendan Gleeson
Director:
Metaphysical horror writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s latest after Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs
Thumbs Up:
If anyone can make this hokum work, it’s the modern-day Hitchcock.
Thumbs Down:
The man’s track record has yet to produce less than a box office smash, but will the public continue to eat it up?
Soundtrack: Hollywood Records
soundtrack features score by James Newton Howard
Website:
http://thevillage.movies.go.com/

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (New Line Cinema)
Premise
: A coupla regular guys, one Asian, the other Indian, head out on a stoned odyssey to grab some Sliders from this legendary fast food East Coast burger joint.
Stars: John Cho
, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Fred Willard
Director:
After this and Dude, Where’s My Car?, Danny Leiner is turning into the king of the head trip road movies.
Thumbs Up:
Supposedly a literal, witty script while industry buzz predicts one of the sleeper hit possibilities of the summer.
Thumbs Down: Cheech & Chong
for the Buster Generation?
Soundtrack:
Bulletproof/Razor & Tie album features MXPX, Ziggy Marley, Rick James, Long Beach Dub All-Stars, All Too Much
Website:
www.haroldandkumar.com

Thunderbirds (Universal Pictures)
Premise:
Live-action version of ’60s cult animated U.K. puppet sci-fi series as a former astronaut and his five sons operate the to-secret International Rescue organization.. and the high-tech vehicles that go with it.
Stars:
Bill Paxton, Anthony Edwards, Sophia Myles, Ben Kingsley
Director: Veteran Jonathan Frankes
(Clockstoppers, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection)
Thumbs Up:
A tweener film aiming straight at the Spy Kids franchise.
Thumbs Down:
Sci-fi hasn’t exactly been tearing it up this summer at the box office, but this may have some camp appeal.
Soundtrack: Decca
album features score by Hans Zimmer
Website:
www.Thunderbirdsmovie.com

She Hate Me (Sony Pictures Classics)
Premise:
A corporate whistle-blower who loses his job agrees to father children for lesbians at $10k a shot.
Stars:
Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Ellen Barkin, Monica Bellucci, Jim Brown, Brian Dennehy, Woody Harrelson, Lonette McKee
Director: Spike Lee
once again at his most controversial.
Thumbs Up:
Hot-button topic, talented cast, sure-handed director could mean a rare box office success for Lee.
Thumbs Down:
Lee’s strident politics could get in the way of mass appeal.
Soundtrack: Milan Records
album features score by frequent Lee collaborator, jazz musician Terence Blanchard.
Website:
www.shehateme.com

Garden State (Fox Searchlight)
Premise:
An indie film about a struggling L.A. actor who returns to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral and is faced with unexpected consequences.
Stars:
Scrubs Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm, Ron Leibman
Director:
Braff, in his directorial/writing debut
Thumbs Up:
Good industry and critical buzz, with an impressive cast, could mean cult success.
Thumbs Down:
Is it too much like every other quirky indie comedy of self-discovery to make its mark?
Soundtrack: Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax
album is an eclectic mix of PoMo acts like the Shins, Zero 7, Thievery Corporation, Remy Zero and Frou Frou, with Aussie Man at Work Colin Hay and classic rockers Nick Drake and Simon & Garfunkel.
Website:
www.foxsearchlight.com

 

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ELECTION 2020
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