Isn’t it about time the Motion Picture Academy added the category of Best Soundtrack or Best Use of Non-Original Music? Scorsese would win that one hands-down.


It's That Time, Kiddies: For the Next Four Days, You’re Out on Your Own Recognizance
Preparing this Thanksgiving special Planner, we’ve decided to blow off the Calendar section. After all, you know very well what you’ll be doing during the next four days—pigging out, shopping, watching sports on TV, going to the movies and dreading having to go back to work on Monday. Those are the components of the holiday tradition. Bon appétit…and go Irish (5 p.m. Saturday, on ABC).

1. The Beatles, Love (Apple/Capitol):
Call it Meta the Beatles. Not quite remix, mash-up or medley, this full-scale re-imagination by producer George Martin and son Giles for a Cirque de Soleil production in Las Vegas exists on its own merits. Love is a tribute to the resilience and timelessness of the Beatles’ catalog, and the interrelated musical and emotional themes that run through them. Starting with the lovely a cappella voices of “Because,” one of the last things they ever did, and climaxing with “All You Need Is Love,” the Martins have carefully taken apart the Fab Four’s musical components and rearranged them, often seamlessly, sometimes less so, though all tied together by Ringo’s remarkably expressive, propulsive beat. The remastering is pristine, bringing out elements in the music you never heard before, a tribute to the familiarity of the individual pieces and the Martins’ recreation of the whole. The duo had some fun, too, running “Sun King” backwards to form “Gnik Nus,” joining together the sitar in “Within You Without You” and “Tomorrow Never Knows,” putting Ringo’s vocals in “Octopus’ Garden” over Martin’s original string arrangement for “Good Night.” The 80-year-old producer pens a brand-new orchestral score, which he insists will be his last (“Yesterday” was the first), for the acoustic version of Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the album’s centerpiece. Although purists might object, and its appearance right before the holidays smacks of exploitation, father and son’s work here is an obvious labor of love, and a true revitalization of a musical output that even a Boomer like me has to admit suffers from overkill.

2. Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images at the L.A. County Museum of Art: Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte, who passed away in 1967 at the age of 69, needs no introduction to the general public, his paintings, including numerous self-portraits in ubiquitous derby, among the most familiar of their genre this side of Dali. Like the BeatlesLove, though, this collection offers a recontextualization of his work, juxtaposing 68 Magritte originals with a matching number of pieces by contemporary artists like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Barbara Kruger, Raymond Petitbon, Ed Ruscha and Robert Gober. L.A. conceptualist John Baldessari was commissioned to design the exhibit’s ingenious installation, featuring a carpet with Magritte’s trademarked blue sky and clouds below and a repeating SoCal freeway grid on the ceiling above, an upside-down representation of the subject’s “treacherous” imagery. The artist’s technique of enlarging ordinary, everyday objects and placing them in physically impossible situations, as in Personal Values, with its oversized comb, glass and shaving brush, or Time Transfixed, with its Hitchcock-by-way-of-Freud image of a railroad locomotive emerging from a fireplace, foreshadows the pop-art movement of the '50s and '60s, with its convergence of high and low culture and incorporation of the mundane. Magritte was also the most literary of painters, examining the meaning of words and how they apply to the objects they represent depending on context in his famous Ceci n’est pas une pipe (“This is not a pipe”), reflecting and influencing the work of contemporary linguistic philosophers such as Wittgenstein and Foucault. His love of visual puns, skewed perspectives and negative space is best seen in the famed Decalcomania, featuring the artist in a derby adjacent to a cut-out of his silhouette against a backdrop of blues skies and clouds. Along with La Condition Humaine, the painting within a painting of a landscape fitting like a puzzle piece over the actual thing pictured, they form a lasting image of our (in) ability to find ourselves in the universe, a harbinger of the modern world’s fragmentation, alienation from our bodies and spiritual longing. And while the Pierce Brosnan audio doesn’t shed any light on Magritte’s personal biography or the real-world inspiration for his work, like its subject, this exhibit takes the familiar and makes it unfamiliar, giving us a new perspective on his work and our life. You can’t ask much more from art than that.

3. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The combination of being booted off the nominating committee, a lackluster slate of nominees and the animosity recent selections have caused among the inductees themselves has dampened my enthusiasm, but the process still offers plenty of food for discussion. This year’s nominees, from which everyone must pick five, include Chic, Dave Clark Five, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, R.E.M., the Ronettes, Patti Smith, The Stooges, Joe Tex and Van Halen. Since I'm still part of the voting body, here are my choices, in order: 1) R.E.M.: A shoo-in for induction, back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Stipe and company were neck and neck with U2 as the world’s best rock band. They’ve since fallen back into the willful obscurity they started out with, but a look at their recently released DVD retrospective brings home what a refreshing change they brought about, redefining southern rock for the college crowd and never forgetting to pay tribute to their forebears. 2) Patti Smith: I’m admittedly prejudiced, having grown up alongside this poetess/priestess as she made the transition from rock critic to rock star, but her body of work stands up, as does her longevity. 3) The Stooges: They only cut a couple of albums, but what albums they were. Dunno if the band itself should be inducted, but Iggy Pop himself is a slam dunk, and if this is the way to get him in, the Stooges would be the third so-called punk cult band (after the Velvets and the Ramones) to get in. 4) The Ronettes: I confess this is a personal pick, because Ronnie Spector deserves entree, representing how large an influence the early ‘60s girl groups were to the garage and punk sound that was to follow, and to give a hearty fuck-you to ex-hubbie Phil for what he’s put her through over the years. 5) Chic: You had to be in New York in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s to appreciate the impact of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards in transitioning from disco to punk, as well as the musical integration they helped foment. As for the rest of the nominees: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five certainly deserve a Hall nod as innovators, popularizing the turntable scratch and injecting political realities into hip-hop fantasy, but they are still just a cult band, albeit influential, with limited commercial success. If they are inducted, I want the Dolls in, too. Dave Clark Five were certainly important, and I have all the sympathy for Clark himself, currently suffering from a terminal illness, but the group was a pale imitation of the Beatles, not unlike Gerry and the Pacemakers or Herman’s Hermits, and I hear no outcry for either of those two to be inducted, Little Steven excepted. As for Van Halen, they certainly deserve induction on the strength of Eddie Van Halen alone, and if I was in L.A. in the early ‘80s, I might pull the lever, but I have to be true to my own experience, which were more punk than metal. Finally, Joe Tex should be in an R&B Hall of Fame, no question. But unless you change the name of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the Rock and Soul Hall of Fame, no go.

4. Roger Waters, Van Morrison and the Band, “Comfortably Numb”: This track from Waters’ Live in Berlin all-star performance of The Wall is used to memorable effect in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, and it’s pretty nigh a definitive version, creating a foreboding and sense of dread that sucks you into the sensual scene it accompanies. In fact, Scorsese has always been a master of rock music in movies, and his latest is no exception, from the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” which opens the flick to such chestnuts as ill-fated blues guitarist Roy Buchanan’s haunting “Sweet Dreams,” the Allman Brothers’ paranoid “One Way Out,” the Beach Boys’ soaring “Sail On, Sailor,” the Dropkick Murphys’ Irish punk shanty “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” the Human Beinz’ garage-rock classic “Nobody But Me” and Patsy Cline’s plaintive “Sweet Dreams (Of You).” Isn’t it about time the Motion Picture Academy added the category of Best Soundtrack or Best Use of Non-Original Music? Scorsese would win that one hands-down.

5. The Velvet Underground, Under Review (Sexy Intellectual DVD): Thanks to my sister Janet for turning me on to this British-produced documentary, which traces the history of the influential band from its beginnings with Pickwick Records in-house surf-rock songwriter Lou Reed and avant-garde Welsh musician John Cale. There is some great footage culled from the group’s days under the aegis of Andy Warhol, as well as interviews with a variety of pundits, including Dean of American Rock Critics Robert Christgau, and a very wrinkled Mo Tucker, who remembers fondly the old days tub-thumpings for the maelstrom of songs like “Heroin” and “Sister Ray.” Reed’s standing as a songwriter second only to Bob Dylan is made clear, as are the innovations of the band itself, long derided for being unable to play their instruments, but now recognized as the intersection of pop art and rock, drone and roll, Chuck Berry meets LaMonte Young. The personalities take a back seat to a thorough analysis of lyrics and music in a way the Brits have specialized in over the years, giving the subject the cultural significance it deserves. To order it on Amazon.com, click here.

6. Free Hugs: Fueled by a YouTube video you can see here, directed by Shimon Moore of the Aussie band Sick Puppies, accompanied by the group’s song “All the Same,” Sydney conceptualist Juan Mann’s “one-man” movement of giving out embraces to strangers in public places is one of the first honest-to-goodness viral global phenomena launched by the groundbreaking vid-sharing site. The concept is simple, but the emotion and human contact are real, while Mann’s motivations are pure enough not to include selling out to a corporate sponsor like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s…at least not yet. As for the Puppies themselves, the power trio, which includes energetic bassist Emma Anzai (dubbed the female Flea for her on-stage gyrations) and L.A. drummer Mark Goodwin, aren’t anywhere near as precious with their music, having moved to Hollywood 18 months ago in search of a deal before signing with ex-Trauma Records co-head Paul Palmer to put out their debut early next year. I don’t usually fall for gimmicks, but in this increasingly competitive rock marketplace, you do what you can to get people’s attention—even if it means donning a sandwich board that promises “Free Hugs” and offering them a furtive embrace. It sure beats sending out your demo or e-mailing an MP3 to an A&R weasel.

7. Judson Laipply, “The Evolution of Dance”: Yet another YouTube-inspired forward to a friend, comic Laipply performs a kaleidoscopic tribute to the history of popular dance, high-stepping his way through 30 individual songs, from Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” to NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” here, with stops along the way for “The Twist,” Saturday Night Fever, “Y.M.C.A.,” “Kung Fu Fighting,” Grease, AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” a Michael Jackson moonwalk, Styx “Mr. Roboto,” breakdancing, “Walk Like an Egyptian,” Vanilla Ice, Hammer Time, Naughty by Nature’s “Jump,” Lord of the Dance, the Macarena, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” etc. And just imagine. He didn’t bother getting the rights to any of the music before the clip went up.

8. Friends With Money: Writer/director Nicole Holofcener’s West Side story is one of the few American movies, especially set in affluent West L.A., that ponders class differences and the rising price of material goods, as seen through the interlocking lives of three well-to-do couples, two experiencing marital discord, the other blissfully unaware, and their downwardly mobile mutual friend Olivia, played by Jennifer Aniston in blue-collar Good Girl mode. If you believe that the pot-smoking Aniston would actually work as a maid, and this is the film's main conceit, then you won’t have any problem swallowing that the always-great Frances McDormand is a successful female fashion designer on the verge of a nervous breakdown with her doting, everyone-thinks-he’s-gay husband or that the marvelous Catherine Keener is at her wit’s end as half of a crumbling husband-wife screenwriting team with oblivious Jason Isaacs, so good as the malevolent sibling in Brotherhood, whose absent kids exist as mere accessories. Holofcener observes the priorities of this privileged class in the kind of detail Thackery uses to describe upper society in Vanity Fair and Barry Lyndon, and while never condescending to her characters, it’s also hard to generate any sympathy for their troubles, which include such crises as attracting the enmity of their neighbors by building a second story and spoiling the ocean view. Worth seeing for Aniston’s surprisingly low-key, effective performance and the meticulously realized milieu, which intimates the principals have redeeming values, unlike, say, Larry David’s black tragic-comic ruminations on the same subject.

9. Kirk Fox: He was in The Patriot playing Skunk, had small roles on TV's Deadwood and The Pretender and wrote and co-starred in Tennis… Anyone? and Pauly Shore Is Dead, but don’t hold that against this tennis instructor-turned-comic second banana. To give full disclosure, Fox co-hosts KLSX’s The C. Thomas Howell Show, which comes on Sunday night right after Media Whores, the program I do with Dave Adelson, and his glib, self-deprecating non sequiturs form the perfect counterpart to Tommy’s eager beaver actor reminiscences. There must be thousands of talented guys like Fox on the fringes of show biz, waiting to get their big break, and a Sunday-night show on KLSX probably isn’t the path to a major discovery, but the quick-witted Kirk’s “what-me-worry?” vibe works perfectly on the air, and here’s hoping some Hollywood producer type finds a role worthy of the lanky comic, who would make a wonderful Jason Lee type in a My Name Is Earl-like sitcom. Hey, he's already got the droopy '70s mustache.

10. Gripe of the Week: Don’t mean to get all Demon Seed on ya (that’s the 1977 Donald Cammell sci-fi flick in which Julie Christie gets raped by a computer), but man- (and woman-) kind seems to be getting increasingly attached to technological gizmos at the expense of human interaction. Used to be people were discrete when they went to retrieve their messages or phone mail, but the current BlackBerry-ization of society seems to me an addiction worthy worrying about. Check out concertgoers or even restaurant patrons, ignoring either the show itself, or their dinner partners, to feverishly peck away at those tiny keyboards, dual thumbs a-blazing. If it didn't come off like a reactionary Luddite, I’d even point out how rude it is. Heck, I didn’t have a cellular phone myself until maybe five or six years ago, and even now, I’m stuck back in 2002 with my Nokia, while all those around me are watching porn clips on their Razrs. I’m just waiting to get one of those computer chips lodged in my brain so I can do without the hardware altogether, and then I will have achieved my current goal—evolving into an efficient human machine. —Roy Trakin

The TiVo era has eliminated those annoying TV commercials from my viewing repertoire ("Head on, apply directly to the forehead. Head on, apply directly to the forehead"), but two ads have caught my attention for the subversive and brilliant choice of music used to sell the products: Mitsubishi hopes to sell the Outlander by using The Fall's "Clasp Hands" (from 1995's Fall Heads Roll) and Dell is convinced that the 13th Floor Elevators' classic "You're Gonna Miss Me" will sell computer systems to baby boomers. Count me in.

Here’s a playlist made of up the cuts I can’t live without from the second half of 2006. Just below it is a reprise of the playlist I made up for the first half of the year, which originally appeared in the Fourth of July Weakend Planner.

Black Lexus / 2006 Vol. 2
The Decemberists
/ “The Perfect Crime #2”
Lindsey Buckingham / “Show You How”
Thom Yorke / “Black Swan”
Ray LaMontagne / “Three More Days”
Joseph Arthur / “Too Much to Hide”
Bob Dylan / “Someday Baby”
Beck / “Cellphone’s Dead”
/ “The Book I Write”
John Mayer / “Vultures”
Pernice Brothers / “Zero Refills”
Pete Yorn / “The Man”
Ben Kweller / “Penny on the Train Track”
Los Lobos / “Hold On”
Albert Hammond Jr. / “Scared”
Roman Candle / “Something Left to Say”
Neil Young & Crazy Horse / “Winterlong” (live 1970)
Joseph Arthur / “Black Lexus”
Lindsey Buckingham / “Under the Skin”
Arctic Monkeys / “Baby I’m Yours”
Ray LaMontagne / “You Can Bring Me Flowers”

This Is Us / 2006 Vol. 1
Barkley Gnarls / “Crazy”
KT Tunstall / “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”
Tom Petty / “Saving Grace”
Guster / “Satellite”
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris / “This Is Us”
Rock Kills Kid / “Paralyzed”
The Raconteurs / “Steady as She Goes”
New York Dolls / “Dance Like a Monkey”
Muse / “Supermassive Black Hole”
The Strokes / You Only Live Once”
Wolfmother / “Love Train”
Starlight Mints / “Inside of Me”
Dnald Fagen / “Mary Shut the Garden Door”
Gomez / “How We Operate”
Red Hot Chili Peppers / “Hard to Concentrate”
Paul Simon / “Once Upon a Time There Was an Ocean”
Dixie Chicks / "Not Ready to Make Nice"
Cat Power / “The Greatest”
Ray LaMontagne / “Be Here Now”
Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs / “Warmth of the Sun”
Bud Scoppa


Meet the streamer's new editor in chief. (10/21a)
It's neck-and-neck heading into the final day of the sales week. (10/21a)
With Kacey out, who's a likely nominee? (10/21a)
Another domino falls. (10/18a)
For Adele, it's "Easy," for the Grammys, not so much. (10/20a)
Adele; Adele Adele?
A... dele?
Adele Adele; Adele.

 First Name

 Last Name


Captcha: (type the characters above)