“Elvis”: Film Review Podcast

Posted: June 26th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Film Reviews Podcast, Music | No Comments »

It is a significant topic as deep and long as the entire 20th C.

Elvis Presley.

Elvis.

Baz Luhrmann has attempted to tackle it, in his latest release, simply titled, “Elvis.”

Austin Butler is magnificent as Presley, who was known as the “King of Rock & Roll.”

Tom Hanks not so much as the equally important for the tale to be told manager, the self-proclaimed Colonel Tom Parker.

Because I grew up with Elvis and rock & roll, I have many thoughts and emotions about Presley, as well as about Luhrmann’s manner of telling to tale.

For significantly more details of my thoughts on both, listen to the podcast below:

Audio MP3

The Importance of Elvis

Posted: June 20th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Music, Personalities | 1 Comment »

This piece was originally published at the turn of the century. It has been very slightly edited for clarity and content in advance of the release this week of the Elvis Presley biopic.

In his book “The Fifties,” David Halberstam chronicles the most misunderstood of the century’s decades. In the tome, he relates a conversation where noted composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein discussed political and social trends with Dick Clurman, an editor at Time magazine. Halberstam quotes Bernstein: “Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force of the twentieth century.”

Incredulous, Clurman suggests some other choice, Picasso perhaps.

Bernstein, not to be deterred, retorts: “(Elvis) changed everything — music, language, clothes, it’s a whole new social revolution . . .”

Elvis Presley is LEO’s Person of the Century.

That is not a typo. No Henry Ford or Winston Churchill or Bill Gates or FDR or Einstein or Rosa Parks or Jackie O could meet our standards at Louisville Eccentric Observer for such critical status.

Elvis Presley is the wise choice, the eccentric choice, the correct choice. Love him or loathe him. Pity his Greek tragedy of a life. Ignore him if so inclined. But don’t make the mistake of dismissing Elvis as irrelevant.

Elvis was the undisputed King of Rock & Roll but no longer a major player on the music scene twenty two years ago when he died ignominiously in his throne room. The causes: Terminal, drug-induced bloat and chronic ennui. He had become the caped, prescription pill-addled Elvis who arrived for a White House audience with Richard Nixon, carrying a handgun as a gift, then requesting a badge to fight drug abuse.

We chose the Elvis who in the summer of 1953 entered the Memphis Recording Service studio at 706 Union in Memphis to record an acetate for his mama. The Elvis who the following year, at the insistence of guitarist Scotty Moore, and with encouragement from Sam Phillips’ secretary Marion Keister, waxed revved versions of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right Mama.” The songs changed Elvis’ life forever.

And the lives of all who heard them.

And life itself.

As Renaissance Woman Caroline Dahl titled her magnificent needlepoint seen above, Elvis was “The New King of Heaven and Hell.”

Elvis Presley. The world’s been a different place since. Read the rest of this entry »


“Emergency”: Film Review/ Podcast

Posted: June 2nd, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Is it possible to take a hackneyed movie genre and turn it into something else entirely?

Like, say, the it’s the last night of school before vacation let’s party til we puke and do stupid things flick, and use that premise to make a comment on socio-cultural reality, all the while being entertaining.

The answer we now know is Yes.

Thanks to “Emergency,” available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

Sean and Kuhnle are all set to be the first black dudes at their college to complete the seven stop Legendary Tour of parties before spring break.

Coming home for their “pregame,” they discover a white girl they don’t know, passed out stoned and drunk on their living room floor.

What to do?

The weirdness usually present in this genre of flicks comes about. But, so too, a take on what it’s like to be young and black in a moment fraught with peril in today’s culture.

This is not diatribe or finger pointing. What this is is an often very funny, continually entertaining and engaging, and periodically revelatory film.

For more, Listen to my podcast below.

Audio MP3

“Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn”: Review Podcast

Posted: May 28th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Film Reviews Podcast | No Comments »

Alrighty then, here’s something completely and absurdly different.

A Romanian film, shot during the pandemic in Bucharest.

About a respected teacher at an upscale school, who makes a private sex tape with her husband.

Which somehow gets uploaded to the interweb.

Parental disapproval ensues.

This fascinating film, which — Caveat Emptor — contains graphic imagery and lots of dirty, really nasty words, provides an interesting take on the culture of that country, as well as the racism, contention and hypocrisy that is endemic world wide.

Plus, it’s really funny.

Well done, it won the top prize at the ’21 Berlin Film Festival.

I’d suggest actually listening to my podcast before going to Hulu or Amazon Prime to watch.

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“Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent: Review/ Podcast

Posted: May 19th, 2022 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Film Reviews Podcast, Personalities | No Comments »

So, Nick Cage, he’s like a thing, right?

Because of his over the top acting style and other stuff, he’s more than an actor. A cultural icon, or, at least curiosity.

So it would seem.

He’s won an Oscar. He’s been in a 109 films. He’s made some bold choices in his portrayals, daring even.

Some hit. Some have you walking out of the theater, scratching your head. Even before the movie’s over perhaps.

He’s a flashpoint for aesthetic colloquy.

Now, he plays himself, along with his alter ego Sailer Ripley, his character in “Wild at Heart,” in what is either an astute bit of self deprecation, or vanity in the extreme.

Way more the former, I’d opine.

In “Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” you get all Nick Cage all the time.

It’s pretty danged funny. Astute. Often a brilliant send up of the movie industry.

For more on the movie, listen to my podcast below:

Audio MP3

Back In New Orleans for JazzFest

Posted: April 28th, 2022 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music | 5 Comments »

My favorite thing in life, the New Orleans JazzFest, the best musical experience extant, is back after a two year hiatus because of You Know What.

So am I.

This will be my 33d Fest, the first in ’76.

Seven days of music on consecutive weekends, on ten stages inside Fairgrounds Racetrack complex from 11:30 in morning until 7:00.

Did I mention it’s in New Orleans, where you can also find something worthwhile to eat when out to dinner with friends?

I am beside myself with joy.

For the reasons why, listen below:

Audio MP3

Le Brer (in A. Miner)

Posted: March 4th, 2022 | Filed under: Culture, Music, New Orleans, Personalities, Ruminations, Today's Lesson Learned | 5 Comments »

The header is not a misspell. Read on.

I live in a part of my hometown where everybody seems to be interconnected, where there are not a lot of degrees of separation. Where your cousin is likely to work with your neighbor’s uncle. The mother of your daughter’s current BF went to the junior prom 25 years ago with your boss’s brother. A former fellow bandmate of your Louisville contractor teaches guitar to your former fraternity brother. In New Orleans.

That kind of stuff.

An educated area, yet when asked what school one attended, the intention is to learn what high school, not college.

I’ve often joked that on my deathbed, two people will walk in together and provide the final tie in to everyone I’ve known.

I am used to connectivity.

So, I look for links in my life.

 * * * * *

I am a huge music fan.

Rock & Roll.

I’m full with it, my history with it. I can tell you exactly where I was when I first heard “Walk Don’t Run.” What acts were on the bill at the first concert I attended. “Biggest Show of Stars.” On July 29, 1961.

I’ve often mused whether I’d have made it as I have to double sevens without tuneage to provide a necessary soundtrack along the way. Read the rest of this entry »


The Night I Said No to Little Richard

Posted: May 9th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Personalities | 2 Comments »

Of the Founding Fathers of Rock & Roll, the quintet whose mugs would be on Mount Rushmore, two were frankly more incendiary than the rest.

It’s not that Elvis, Fats Domino, and Bo Diddley weren’t rockin’ and rollin’ in a totally new fashion in the mid 50s.

It’s just that the music of the other two blasted from the tinny speaker of the 7 transistor portable radio I got for my Bar Mitzvah, the device I could put in my bike basket, and thereby take my life’s preferred soundtrack with me wherever I roamed.

One was Jerry Lee Lewis.

When you’re 12 years old and you hear “Great Balls of Fire,” you turn to your pal and scream, “Holy shit, did you hear what he just sang?”

To get a sense of how raucous Jerry Lee could be, youtube his ’64 concert at the Star Club in Hamburg.

(Aside: That Jerry Lee Lewis is the last of those Founding Fathers standing is one of the wonders of the universe.)

The other who pushed the boundaries of the new teen culture to other dimensions was Little Richard. RIP.

His songs propelled. They were insistent. They were outrageous. Read the rest of this entry »


More JazzFest Musical Memories

Posted: May 2nd, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music, New Orleans | No Comments »

Realizing it’s truly an impossible task — sharing my “favorite” JazzFest musical moments that is — I’ve decided to take a different tack for this last take on JazzFest for this year.

Because, I love it all. Even the days when I can hear umpteen different performers and none really grab on and don’t let go.

As I always say, that’s why I keep coming back. From day to day. From year to year. Even now in 2020, when I can only experience the event via WWOZ’s JazzFesting in Place.

So, here’s some quick mentions of some regulars, and I’ll give it up for this time around.

 * * * * *

Have I mentioned how much I cherish Allen Toussaint?

Duh, like only a gazillion times.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with He Who Is My Favorite New Orleans Musical Icon, my favorite musical icon period.

When still alive, Toussaint, except maybe way back in the day, never had a regular band that gigged together all the time, that toured. He was, until Katrina for sure, mostly a writer, producer, arranger. But a sometimes performer.

So, at his annual JazzFest sets, his ensemble was always a put together outfit. The upper echelon of NO players, of course, Men and women who have played with him through the decades. But, not playing regularly, the groups were often not as tight as one might hope.

Plus, his singing voice, never anything truly special, diminished over time.

But ya know, it was always Allen Toussaint with his incredible presence that bridged the gap between dapper and dazzle, and his sweet persona, and his amazing songs and charts. Read the rest of this entry »


Favorite JazzFest Musical Memories, Part Trois

Posted: April 30th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music | No Comments »

There’s a chat room where JazzFest obsessives like myself hang out.

For the acolytes, the Jazz Fest Forum  is a year round thing.

The denizens are called Threadheads, and most seem to know each other from hookups during Fest. Or otherwise. Liuzza’s seems to be the official unofficial meeting place. They also have a party every year during Fest called the Patry. With boffo lineups.

I’m sort of an outlier, an auxiliary Threadhead if you will, having come to the dialog later than most of the regulars. On the way to the Fest a few years back, in the Charlotte airport, I did meet a couple that helped start the Forum. And there’s the NRBQ-loving regular I chatted up a couple years ago between acts at the Gentilly Stage.

It’s a year round deal, but, as you can imagine, conversations ratchet up with the lineup announcement in January, and the posting of the Cubes a month out.

One of the regular threads will deal with lesser known, obscure acts that somebody’s heard in concert with a hearty “You gotta hear this group.”

I check them all out on youtube before making my daily plans. Weeks in advance, I must admit. Plus, disciple that I am, I also check out the ones I don’t know that might not have been recommended.

Which brings to my favorite tip of recent years . . .

. . . Bombino. Read the rest of this entry »


Knowing What It Means To Miss New Orleans

Posted: April 19th, 2020 | Filed under: Culture, JazzFest, Music, New Orleans | 3 Comments »

Already consumed with the stark reality that my upcoming week was going to be considerably different than planned, I did not need a reminder.

There it was nonetheless when I sat down at my computer Sunday morning.

The Reminder: JazzFest tomorrow.

Sigh.

Not that my favorite thing to do in life, the gravitational pull of my year, started Monday. The festival wouldn’t have begun until 11:00 in the morning Thursday.

Just sayin’. Hearing some hot New Orleans outfit, like, say, Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, or Flow Tribe, before noon on a workday, while savoring a frozen latte, is among life’s most endearing pleasures.

But Monday’s the day I start the trek down. At least since I’ve been driving instead of flying. No matter to explain, but I’ve got my reasons, and it works for me.

Stay overnight along the way in Mississippi. Get to the Crescent City around noon Tuesday. Check in and let the burg’s quintessential vibe wash over me. Take a jog through the Quarter. Dine with long time pals that night at, say, Clancy’s or GW Fins. Read the rest of this entry »


Sliders by the Light of Day

Posted: July 21st, 2019 | Filed under: Culture, Dining, Food | 2 Comments »

For many, no actually for most, supping at White Castle with the sun high in the sky is an alien concept.

And that’s among those who would deign to darken the doors of the Porcelain Palace at all. For much of the populace, the eatery and its sublime offerings are an anathema to be scorned prior to investigation.

Silly them, Castles are actually tasty, not just fast. There’s something about how the bun and burger and cheese, all steamed, meld together that’s unique. And how just being in the place brings back memories of simpler, more carefree times.

Anyway, I found myself savoring a couple of cheese sliders and some rings mid afternoon, and realized there are some similarities to the normal middle of the night had a few too many and are on the way home but aren’t quite ready to hit the pillow yet experience shared by many. Read the rest of this entry »