Riddle Me This

Reckoning รท Crooked Rain Crooked Rain = Around the Sun? Twenty years ago — let’s just pause and think about that for a sec, 20 years ago — R.E.M. released Reckoning. It was the much-anticipated sophomore release by the underground’s then-favorite sons of the South. The album made good on the kudzu-crusted promise of the band’s bewitching and ultimately confounding debut Murmur, radiating a murky but hopeful aura to an alt-world grown weary of punk’s safety-pinned doom and goth’s spider web of gloom. “I’m the sun and you can read,” they sang, or at least that’s what it sounded like–you […]

Bono’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother

Or why U-2 Does Not Suck (Despite What You May Have Heard) Because some bands have greatness thrust upon them and other bands thrust greatness upon themselves. Because U2 knew that if they had it both ways, they could be bigger than Jesus. Because in the early ’80s, if you listened closely, you could actually hear Bono’s mullet. Because the Edge figured out early on that with the right ratios of pinging echo to pealing delay, the electric guitar could build cathedrals of sound that are holier than thou. Because Bozo-haired bassist Adam Clayton and pretty boy drummer Larry Mullen […]

Ryan’s Hype

Ryan Adams Love Is Hell, Pt. 1 Love Is Hell, Pt. 2 Rock N Roll My fantasy Paris Hilton porno tape is a never-ending security cam loop of the bottle-blond heiress working behind the counter of a 7-Eleven. No nudity, no sex — just her ringing up Twinkies and cigarettes and doling out Lottos in grainy black-and-white, humbled by the indignity of earning an honest, modest living. Now that would be hot. I’m pretty sure there’s a market for a similar tape starring Ryan Adams. Like Paris, Adams is famous for reasons that remain unclear to most — he was […]

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things

Elliott Smith, 1969-2003. Near the end of The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson’s storybook cinematic fable of wasted potential, the character of Richie, a disgraced world-class tennis player with a dark secret, looks soulfully into the bathroom mirror. It’s impossible to say what he’s thinking — he looks scared, confused, angry, on the verge. A tensely strummed acoustic guitar spirals in the background, accompanying a hushed, faintly ominous vocal. It’s Elliott Smith’s “Needle in the Hay.” Richie picks up a scissors and methodically, if crudely, crops his shoulder-length tresses down to the scalp. He lathers up his lumberjack beard and shaves […]

Anarchy in the A.C.

Okay Mr. Punk Friggin’ Rock. Before we even get started, you need to come down off your high horse. Take it slow, big fella. You’re not as young as you used to be, and it’s a long way down. All right, both feet on the ground? Good. Yes it’s true, the Sex Pistols played at the Donald’s Trump Marina casino on Saturday night, and you know what? They rocked, without apology. Like they meant it, man. At this late date — some 25 years removed from the filth and the fury of their snot-caked birth — what more could you […]

Decades Under The Influence

My Surefire Predictions For The Future Every generation gets the future it deserves — which, with precise karmic symmetry, usually works out to be a revival of the decade 20 years prior to the present. Like clockwork, the decade 20 years past is retrieved from the dustbin of history and embraced, semi-ironically, as a totem of wet-eyed nostalgia for those who survived it and a gauche treasure chest of kitschy exotica for those too young to have actually experienced it. In the ’70s, it was the ’50s, with Happy Days and oldies sock-hops. In the ’80s, it was the ’60s, […]

Being John Ashcroft

Jesus loves you, John Ashcroft. This you know, for the Bible told you so. And they hate you for it, these liberal heathens, these infidels of the media elite, these secular humanists. You were expecting this, for it was written long ago: The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. They mock your piety, call you Ned Flanders and worse. Racist. Homophobe. American Taliban. You pay them no mind. As per the Lord’s example, you turn the other cheek. “For every crucifixion there is a […]