Posts Tagged ‘Pop Culture’

As the August 4 publication date for Alice In Chains: The Untold Story approaches, several people have discovered this site or my book for the first time within the past several days and weeks.  I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to (re)introduce myself and my previous work about Alice in Chains to date, and address recent developments and some of the feedback I’ve received so far.

First, I have no knowledge of or involvement with a possible Alice in Chains book by Duff McKagan.  Beyond that, I won’t comment on it until I’ve had an opportunity to read it, if it should come to pass. I would also refer you to this recent tweet from Duff himself:

Second, several people have contacted me and told me they’ve already pre-ordered the book.  I am profoundly thankful to each and every one of you for spending your hard-earned money on the unreleased first book of an unknown author, and for your trust.  It means a great deal to me.

Several others have contacted me to ask questions about the book or to express their skepticism, such as if the band members were involved with the book (they weren’t), or asking why they should buy it, or telling me I shouldn’t expect people to buy it just because it’s about Alice in Chains.  All of these questions and critiques are valid, and I will address them as best as I can for the time being.

I am well aware of the fact Alice in Chains and their fans have been burned by other writers in the past, so I can understand these questions and doubts you have about me.  I can’t say anything about what’s in my book until it’s out, but I can refer you to my background and my body of work. In particular, I would refer you to this story I filed for The Atlantic several years ago, which I think is the best example of how I write and put together a story.  Although it is about a very different subject, try to imagine a book length version of that story about Alice in Chains. If I felt I couldn’t write something about the band of that quality or better, I wouldn’t have done it, or I would have abandoned the project.

If you still have questions or doubts, I would say wait until the book is out and skim through it at your local bookstore, and make up your own mind if you think it’s worth buying/reading or not. I’m happy and confident in how it came out after three years of hard work and I am eagerly looking forward to everyone finally getting an opportunity to read it.

Ding! Dong! The witch king is dead!

I’m a few days late on this, but for those of you who haven’t heard, the most reprehensible inbred brat in television history got whacked at his own wedding.  For the back story from the show perspective, I would recommend reading Entertainment Weekly’s interviews with Jack Gleeson, George R. R. Martin, and David Benioff/Dan Weiss. Naturally, the Internet had to chime in, here are a few responses via Twitter [full disclosure/shameless self-promotion: some of the tweets are mine]:

And last, but certainly not least – here’s a clip of Tyrion slapping Joffrey around for 10 minutes, set to Led Zeppelin’s “Achilles Last Stand.”

Today marks the 20th and 12th anniversaries of the deaths of Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley. Take some time to reflect on them, their music, and their individual legacies.

Kurt Cobain:

Layne Staley:

Beyond these links and videos, if you want to know more about both of them and the broader Seattle scene in general, I would highly recommend reading Greg Prato’s Grunge Is Dead and Mark Yarm’s Everybody Loves Our Town.

Ever wondered what your favorite bands might look like as Legos? Now’s your chance.

In terms of the look/accuracy of the figures, my personal favorites are Daft Punk, Tupac, Joy Division, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin.

Review of Nirvana’s first single in the November 1988 issue of Backlash.

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Priceless find in one of my drawers: a program for a @UNICEF awards show I went to in Amsterdam when I was 13, signed by the late great Audrey Hepburn.

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2011 Update: I found this unpublished draft of my review of GNR’s “Chinese Democracy” album sitting in my WordPress posts, originally written in 2008 but never published for reasons I’ve since forgotten. I’ve tweaked it a little for clarity, but the fundamental editorial points remain unchanged.

 

So it looks like hell finally froze over and Axl Rose finally released the much anticipated Chinese Democracy, which has been in the works for well over a decade.

One of the sources of friction between Axl and the rest of the original Guns lineup, besides the fact that by the end of their heyday, he owned the name and the rights to the band exclusively and could hire and fire people at his will, was musical direction. Axl was very much influenced by industrial music (listen to the Use Your Illusion II track “My World”), particularly Nine Inch Nails (historical irony: one of NIN’s early breaks was as the opening act for Guns n’ Roses and Skid Row during a European tour back in 1991) and that influence is abundant on Chinese Democracy.

Thankfully I didn’t have waste time or money buying or downloading the record, but it’s still an hour of my life I’ll never get back again. The guitars and vocals, which were the driving force of every previous Guns n’ Roses record, are an absolute mess. It’s not that the musicianship is bad or amateurish. It is high quality production and technically proficient, but there’s no attitude or groove to any of it. Rolling Stone’s David Fricke gave it a rave review recently. I read it and am left wondering whether he and I listened to the same record.

I remember reading an interview with Slash ages ago where he said something to the effect of, “I thought The Fragile was an amazing record, but I wouldn’t want to make it.” The bottom line here is Axl tried to make a Nine Inch Nails record and failed. Call it whatever you want, but don’t call it Guns n’ Roses.

Jack Is Back

Posted: November 28, 2008 in Pop Culture, TV
Tags: , ,

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Jack Bauer is back, albeit only for a 2-hour TV movie prequel for the upcoming season of 24 scheduled to begin in January. I’m stoked about this because it’s the first new episode in nearly a year and a half, since the writer’s strike last fall led to the season’s cancellation. This isn’t a full-fledged new season, but it’s a good teaser of things to come: Jack on the run, a new female President of the United States is sworn in, and a new villain in a very high place.

“24: Redemption” sticks to the multilayered real-time dramatic narrative format that has made the show such a success. But they did something different here, which I think is a refreshing change: they moved the action in the show out of Los Angeles (according to the credits, the episode was shot in Cape Town, South Africa and Los Angeles). While during most seasons the action goes back and forth between LA and Washington, this time around Jack is living in hiding in a fictitious African country on the brink of war, helping out a friend who runs a UN and State Department-funded school for young boys.

Without getting into specifics, the show takes a turn into contemporary and historical events, doing its own take on elements from the movie Blood Diamond and the U.S. embassy evacuation of Phnom Penh and Saigon in 1975. How all of this is going to tie into the new season I have no idea, but it’s definitely good for the show to change the scenery from Washington and Los Angeles, as it expands the range of subjects, characters, and issues that can be worked into the plot.

January can’t come fast enough.

joker

The lobbying blitz for awards season has begun in the movie industry. I think that while nominations or wins for Best Picture and Best Director (for Christopher Nolan) would do a lot to acknowledge the quality and the impact of “The Dark Knight”, the one that really matters – for fans of the movie, the crew, and the industry at large – will be whether Heath Ledger gets Best Supporting Actor for his showstopping interpretation of the Joker. This is probably the most dominant individual performance I’ve seen in a film in years where the character steals the show in every scene he’s in. The only other one that comes to mind from the past two decades is Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs.