Monday, July 31, 2006


Boycott Mel Gibson!

Mad Max is an anti-Semite. If this wasn't clear with his negative portrayal of Jews in The Passion of the Christ, it came to the surface when Mel Gibson was arrested for drunk driving last Friday night. For some ridiculous and hateful reason, Gibson asked the arresting officer if he was Jewish and then stated, "Fucking Jews. Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." In addition, he cursed one cop ("You motherfucker. I'm going to fuck you.") and referred to a female officer as "sugar tits."

Of course, Gibson has profusely apologized for his intolerable outburst. But it's too late for him. Hollywood - which happens to be populated by many people of the Jewish persuasion - is rallying together to "shun" Gibson.

In the Huffington Post, Endeavor superagent Ari Emanuel wrote: "...alcoholism does not excuse racism and anti-Semitism. It is one thing when marginal figures with no credibility make anti-Semitic statements. It is a completely different thing when a figure of Mel Gibson's stature does so... At a time of escalating tensions in the world, the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements... People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line. There are times in history when standing up against bigotry and racism is more important than money."

Gibson, who began his career starring in such quality Australian films as the Mad Max trilogy, Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously, has veered off the track over the years, despite the success of the Lethal Weapon series, his violent Oscar winner Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ, both of which he directed. His next film, Apocalypto, is about the Mayan empire.

I agree with Emanuel. The entertainment industry should not support future projects associated with Bad Max.


Friday, July 28, 2006


My latest movie reviews: 'Little Miss Sunshine' & 'Once in a Lifetime'

My latest movie reviews appear in The L Magazine and Our Town/Downtown. I didn't care for the slapstick family comedy Little Miss Sunshine, which opened on Wednesday, but I do like Once in a Lifetime, a documentary about the New York Cosmos, currently showing at the Angelika Film Center in New York.

Click here for my review of Little Miss Sunshine.

My review (reprinted below) of Once in a Lifetime is in the July 24 issue of Our Towm/Downtown, which can be found in black sidewalk boxes around Manhattan. It's free of charge.

Soccer Dreams

A doc about the New York Cosmos recalls America’s first flirtation with the world’s favorite sport.

Everyone knows the ’70s was the true golden age of American cinema. Read Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls if you don’t believe me. So it stands to reason that any movie set in the ’70s is worth checking out.

What was so special about the ’70s? Well, of course, it came right after the ’60s. America was brimming with hope and excitement following the Vietnam War. All sorts of rights issues – women’s, gay, civil – were at the forefront. The environment and no-nukes took precedence. A standing president was impeached and resigned. Sex, drugs and rock & roll spun their infectious web of promiscuity. Hot pants, roller skates and disco. Funk, soul and afros. Why, the decade was so cool, VH-1 now has a sequel to its popular I Love the ’70s variety series.

I went to college in the ’70s. I traveled around the country when people still hitchhiked. I lived in San Francisco for a year. I carried a boom box. I wore loud Quiana print shirts. I smoked pot and snorted coke. It was a fun time to be an American.

In the New York sports world, the Mets went to the World Series in ’73, the same year the Knicks won their second NBA championship. The Yankees, led by Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson, became a powerhouse again by the end of the decade. And then there was the New York Cosmos.

I watched the Cosmos out of the corner of my eye. They were the brash, international soccer team led by the Brazilian star, Pele. The Cosmos’ brief run of success from 1975 to 1984 is chronicled in the new documentary, Once in a Lifetime, now showing at the Angelika Film Center. This is no puff piece. Directors Paul Crowder and John Dower celebrate and expose Warner Communications’ grand plan to bring soccer to the notoriously uninterested American sports fan. It almost worked.

Starting out as a semi-pro club that played on a choppy Randall’s Island field, the Cosmos’ original fan base was less than a thousand diehards. But thanks to Warner’s corporate deep pockets, the Cosmos (or Cosmopolitans, named after the Mets’ Metropolitans) would become a fleeting phenomenon in a decade known for fads.

Once Pele came out of retirement to spark both the Cosmos and the nascent North American Soccer League, and the Cosmos moved to Giant Stadium in 1977, the US soccer boom flowered. The team recruited other international stars – Italy’s Giorgio Chinaglia, Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer, Brazil’s Carlos Alberto. Money was no object. At one point, there were 14 different nationalities on the Cosmos’ roster. Soon, 80,000 fans were packing the stadium, tailgating like it was a Giants game.

The era is captured with fuzzy clips and many interviews, from Cosmos boosters Neshui and Ahmet Ertegun (the Turkish founders of Atlantic Records) to former players (Chinaglia, Shep Messing, Randy Horton) to soccer pundits (David Hirshey, Phil Mushnick, Lawrie Mifflin). Pele, dribbling like a sleight-of-foot magician, scores his share of goals. Life with the Cosmos, the doc maintains, was nothin’ but a party

Chinaglia takes center stage as the team’s bad guy and perhaps the ultimate cause of its inevitable downfall. He battled with Pele and won support of the higher ups. After Pele’s final retirement in 1977, Chinaglia and his cronies won control of the team, which is described as the lunatics taking over the asylum.

In actuality, the Cosmos only got better under Chinaglia’s leadership, winning the NASL title five times. Mindless expansion (to 24 teams) and dilution of the product drove the league to ruin. Within months in 1984, the Cosmos dissolved and the NASL disbanded. What began with so much promise ended swiftly and suddenly.

What did the Cosmos accomplish? According to the film, the US has become a regular competitor in the World Cup. Today, all across American, soccer moms in minivans escort their kids to games. There’s the Major Soccer League (MSL). But really, soccer came and went in the national consciousness like a phantom. Just like the ’70s.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Kottonmouth Kings @ Avalon

There is no band today that's more obsessively pro-pot than California's Kottonmouth Kings. Cypress Hill, you say? Sure, they started the blunt-smoking, weed-happy trend in hip-hop, but they've slowed down a bit over the last few years - less new music and touring. Meanwhile, the KMKs keep surging ahead, with a full head of cannabis smoke. They're currently touring to promote their latest album, Koast II Koast, and on Monday made a stop at New York's Avalon (formerly the Limelight).

Despite a gimpy leg, band leader Brad Daddy X took the stage with the 6 other members of the KMKs crew - rappers Johnny Richter and D-Loc, DJ Bobby B, drummer Lou Dog, and performance artists Pakelika and Tax Man - and worked the rapt crowd for nearly 2 hours. KMKs mix hardcore punk and hip-hop to great effect. Mosh-pit slamdancing and crowd-surfing carried on throughout the set, with a surprising number of women joining in.

After "Bump" and "One Life to Live," the KMKs launched into a series of herb-drenched tunes, starting with "So High" and followed by their latest single, "Where's the Weed At?" On-stage accoutrements included a working vaporizer, a plastic pot plant and a huge smoking joint (not real pot inside). On several occasions, the band shouted-out to the numerous High Times staffers in the house and also announced their upcoming headline engagement at November's Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam (it will be their 3rd appearance). "A hundred strains in 3 days!" Daddy X exhorted. "And 500 beers!" Very appropriate for a band known to sing about being "Bong Toking Alcoholics."

Afterwards on the band bus, we puffed with Pak and Richter while others went out searching for food. Pak told us the KMKs are popular in Japan. "We always have the best weed when we're there," Pak boasted. Who knew?

The KMKs' Flyin' High Koast II Koast tour, including Suburban Noize labelmates Hed PE, Potluck and SubNoize Souljaz, runs through August 26. Tonight's show is at Boston's Avalon Ballroom. Check 'em out, stoners!

This review is also available at


Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I'm on the latest 'Chris Fabricant Show'

Author/lawyer Chris Fabricant recently interviewed me for his podcast radio program, The Chris Fabricant Show, which is available on iTunes.

Chris is the author of Busted! Drug War Survial Skills, From the Buy to the Bust to Begging for Mercy. He's a criminal defense lawyer who works in the Bronx and lives in Brooklyn. He records the show with the help of BrightRED Pictures at his home studio in Crown Heights.

My interview on his July 7 podcast begins around the 25th minute and runs 20 minutes. Check it out!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Bonds turns 42, Mets up by 12 & 1/2

Baseball's a game of inches and numbers. Today's numbers are 42 and 12.5. On this day in sports, aging controversial slugger Barry Bonds turns 42. He currently has 722 HRs (he hit his last one on Thursday against the Padres), 14 for the season. He's 11 HRs away from the all-time National League record of 733. Hank Aaron's 755 total was accomplished in the NL with the Braves and in the AL with the Brewers (where he ended his career).

Bonds is hitting a respectable .255 with 44 RBI and an amazing 83 walks. Despite his diminishing numbers, teams still would rather not pitch to him with runners on base. The Giants are just .5 games out of first place (behind the Padres).

Last week, my brother Barry Bloom reported that Bonds plans to play in 2007.

Now for a few words about the Mets:
The Mets have such a large lead in the NL East - 12.5 games over the Braves - that they only have to worry about losing momentum and allowing the Braves or Phillies an opportunity to crawl back into the race. This doesn't look likely. The Mets have won 6 out of 9 games since the All-Star break. Except for Pedro Martinez, the team is healthy - and Martinez is due to pitch this weekend in Atlanta against the Braves.

I doubt they'll make a major trade before the July 31 deadline. Dontrelle Willis is not available and with recent quality outings from 4th and 5th starters ("El Duque" Hernandez, Mike Peltry, John Maine), there seems to be no reason to mess with the Mets' chemistry at this point.

Are Met fans cocky? Sure, why not? Barring major injuries to David Wright, Carlos Beltran or Jose Reyes, the Mets will finish in 1st place by at least 8 games with 100 wins. Mark my words.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Brewskee-Ball mania!

The following article was published in the July 17 issue of Our Town/Downtown.

High on Skee-ball

The good times roll in the East Village.


The Sunday afternoon clientele at Ace Bar deep in the East Village is not what you might expect. At 5 pm, Brewskee-Ball action begins with three-player teams facing off against each other.

Brewskee-Ball? The “Brew” part is pretty self-explanatory, since the action takes place in a typical dark bar. But the “Skee-Ball” part is the novelty.

Eric Harris Pavony and Evan Tobias are Skee-Ball-aholics. They love playing the old bowling-style arcade game (it debuted in 1909) so much that last summer the duo bought two used machines and convinced Ace Bar to install them at a buck per nine wooden balls.

But these holy rollers of Skee-Ball had a bigger idea: a league, consisting of 32 teams, competing twice a week (also on Wednesdays) for the ultimate bragging rights of the best Skee-Ball team in New York. This is their third “skeeson.” The top team will be decided August 27 on “Championship Sunday.”

An old hand at Skee-Ball myself, I’ve been known to roll a 300-point game or two. (You aim for the 30-, 40- and 50-point holes.) But watching the match between the league’s top two teams – Skee Amigos and Caucasian Asian Invasion – I’m not so sure I’m ready to pony up crisp dollar bills to take on these Skee-Ball hustlers, who regularly notch 300 scores with beer bottles in their back pockets.

As I play a few practice games, Pavony – the league’s grand poobah – offers a few tips. “You’re moving too much,” he advises. “No extra body movement. Nothing else should move except your arm.”

Then I nail a 300. Not bad. Put me in, coach!

Not on this Sunday. The teams have all arrived with their requisite players, many of who are female. In fact, the bar is crowded with athletic, but not jocky-looking women.

“The league is 60% women,” Pavony boasts. “Unlike competitive pool and even darts, women can challenge guys in Skee-Ball.”

His Skee Amigos’ teammate, Lindsay, is a good example. She averages 250 points per game. (To simplify scoring, the zero is deleted – 250 is scored as 25.) “Women keep it from getting too competitive,” she says. “It’s fun. I only miss getting the little tickets.”

She’s referring to the red tickets that spool out of Skee-Ball machines in places like Coney Island. Play for a few hours and you can redeem the tickets for a cotton-candy goat – or a back scratcher. Something you can take home, a prize for all the hard work and concentration.

Pavony cut his Skee-Ball teeth at Chucky Cheese birthday parties. “I was into being the best,” he recalls. “It’s perceived as a childhood game, but it’s actually quite a skill.”

Pavony proves this point frame after frame (each Brewskee-Ball game consists of 10 frames, like bowling). When it’s his turn, he aims for the 50-point hole, rather than the easier 40-point pocket just below it. One frame his total is an outstanding 410.

But “The Hundo Kid” – a chunky six-foot dude wearing a Met cap – tops Pavony’s feat with three straight frames of 490, 540 and 450 (you get a free game when you hit 400). What’s his secret? Hundo strictly targets the two 100-point holes in the upper corners.

“One day I was having a bad game,” he explains. “So I went for 100 on my two last balls and hit them both. Now I’m a one-trick pony. But it’s a pretty good trick.”

As for me, I’m ready to assemble a team for the fourth Brewskee-Ball skeeson starting in September. I’m thinking of calling it Live Skee or Die.

Ace Bar is located at 531 E. 5 St.


Friday, July 21, 2006


Woo hoo! 'Clerks II'

Box-office news flash!
Clerks II placed fourth behind Pirates of the Caribbean, Monster House and Lady in the Water this weekend. According to Box Office Mojo, "Clerks II served up an estimated $9.6 million at 2,150 locations, a decent start by the raunchy workplace comedy's low budget standards. Writer-director-actor Kevin Smith's brand has not grown beyond a small niche in the years since the first Clerks' modest release in 1994, despite media hype that's been proportionally much higher than the $20 million to $30 million his pictures tend to eke out of theaters."

Here now, my review:
Only the depraved mind of Kevin Smith - and perhaps the Farelly brothers - could concoct a movie as crude and fun as Clerks II, which opened this weekend. Twelve years after Smith's debut, the original Clerks, he's assembled the same cast of Jersey schmoes, dorks and stoners for an update that finds them working at a fast-food restaurant (because their beloved Quick Stop convenience store burns down in the opening scene).

Both films are essentially double-buddy movies focusing on the inane lives of "clerks" Randall (Jeff Anderson) and Dante (Brian O'Hallaron), and pot dealers Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Smith), who do their business outside the store. Not much has changed over the years, except for the store location and the age-factor. Dante's engaged and planning to move to Florida, leaving the forlorn Randall behind. But Dante's also involved with Mooby's manager, Becky (Rosario Dawson). When he finds out she's pregnant, his plans eventually go up in smoke.

With his non-stop clueless wisecracks, Anderson steals the movie. O'Halloran, in the unenviable straight-man dramatic role, isn't a good enough actor to pull it off. Pairing him with the sexy Dawson doesn't help; they're not a believeable couple. Predictably, the geek chorus of Jay and Silent Bob provides some of the film's lower moments (Mewes goes frontal and bears his butt). And then there's the donkey-sex scene that needs no further explanation.

I expected to dislike Clerks II, but came away realizing it's a smart career-move for Smith, who faltered in 2004 with Jersey Girl. Clerks II may be dopey, but it has a heart of gold.



Grace notes in Central Park

Umphrey's McGee and Galactic might have been the co-headliners for last night's concert in New York's Central Park as part of the Summerstage series, but I was principally there to see opener, Vermont's Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, one of my favorite new bands. Despite playing a brief half-hour set, those who arrived by 6 pm caught one of the finest voices to appear on the music scene in many years.

Like Susan Tedeschi and Shannon McNally, Potter channels the great growly female blues-rock predecessors, Bonnie Rait and Janis Joplin. On the title track of the Nocturnals' second and latest album, Nothing But the Water, Potter climbed octaves like an opera singer. But, comping away at her B-3 organ, she oozed pure soul. Accompanied by Scott Tournet on guitar, Bryan Dondero on bass and the heavily-sideburned Matthew Burr on drums, Potter adeptly shifted gears and instruments (she also plays slide guitar). Besides the miniscule set, the only disappointment was that the Nocturnals didn't dig more into the material from the new album.

In the 50-minute second slot, New Orleans-based funksters Galactic offered jazzy versions of "Manic Depression" and "When the Levee Breaks." Chicago's Umphrey's McGee finished off the concert with a nearly two-hour set, showing off their precision playing that often veers into prog-rock territory. Though they lack a powerful frontman like Trey Anastasio, Umphrey's are top-notch Phish-style jammers. Oh, and by the way, they covered "Won't Get Fooled Again."


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Steve Wishnia's review of 'Burning Rainbow Farm'

My longtime High Times colleague, former senior editor Steve Wishnia, has reviewed a book - Dean Kuipers' Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went Up in Smoke - that's very close to his heart. From 1996 to 2000, Steve attended many events at Michigan's Rainbow Farm, which had a close association with High Times. Sadly, state official targeted the 34-acre property owned by Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm, harassing festival attendees and in May 2001, raiding it for tax evasion and pot cultivation. Several months later, in a armed showdown with the authorites, Crosslin and Rohm were viciously gunned down.

"I connected to it immediately when I went to Hemp Aid in 1999," Wishnia writes in his review at "Coming from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I recognized a fellow low-rent counterculture community, a blessed find when my own was being crushed by a ruthless real-estate market and paramilitary evictions. Marijuana was central, but passing the spliff was often more about bonding than intoxication. Being able to burn one openly was liberating [especially coming from Rudy Giuliani’s New York, which led the nation in petty pot busts], but once you left the gates, the descending paranoia was palpable."

Check out Steve's review and buy Kuipers' book.



Oliver Stone: 'I like ayahuasca'

Thrice-busted for marijuana and hash director Oliver Stone extols the virtues of hallucinogens in the latest issue of GQ. "I like ayahuasca. And I liked LSD, and I liked peyote," he tells reporter Chris Heath.

Ayahuasca, a natural psychedelic, is prepared by shaman's in South America's Amazon region. Peyote, derived from cactus, was imfamously used by Jim Morrison in Stone's biopic, The Doors.

According to yesterday's coverage in the New York Daily News' Rush & Molloy gossip section, "Guests this weekend at the Park Regency hotel may have been surprised to sniff some funny-smelling smoke drifting around director Oliver Stone's suite, but they shouldn't have been...The director of Platoon and JFK thinks tripping is so beneficial, he once spiked his father's wine with acid."

Stone's next movie, World Trade Center, is set for release on August 9.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Bonghitters lose close one

In a nailbiter, WNYC edged the Bonghitters, 6-5, on Monday night in Central Park. The Bonghitters took an early 5-0 lead, but saw it quickly evaporate as WNYC - New York's public-radio station - tied the game in the 3rd on a homerun. Both teams went scoreless until the bottom of the 7th, when WNYC knocked in the winning run with two outs and runners on 1st and 2nd. On-air host Brian Lehrer, who singled to lead off the inning, scored the run.

With the victory, WNYC snapped a 4-game losing streak to the Bonghitters, who beat them 9-2 on June 1. Since the two teams started playing each other in 2003, the Bonghitters are 7-2. Virtually every game has been low-scoring and hard fought. A rubber match - to decide who wins the season series - will be played on Aug. 28.

The 6-4 Bonghitters don't play again until Aug. 3 - a rematch against DC Comics, who they defeated, 17-12, on June 22.


Monday, July 17, 2006


Interview with former Knick, Art Heyman

Our Town/Downtown featured my "Q&A" interview with Art Heyman, who played two seasons for the Knicks in the early '60s and now owns Tracy J's Watering Hole on E. 19 St. between Park Ave. and Irving Place in Manhattan.

Downtown Q &A


You can’t miss Art Heyman when you walk into his bar, Tracy J’s Watering Hole, off of Park Ave. If it’s during the day, he’s probably sitting at the window looking out on 19 St., reading the sports pages. Forty-one years ago Heyman played for the Knicks, one of the few Jews to ever suit up in an NBA uniform. A star at Duke, he was the Knicks’ No. 1 draft pick in 1963. Heyman made the all-rookie team, averaging more than 15 points per game. But in his second season, he clashed with the coach and was soon dispatched to San Francisco. Heyman ended his basketball career in the ABA, winning a championship with the Pittsburgh Pipers in 1968. After his playing days were over, he went to law school and became a restaurateur. The 65-year-old Heyman opened the sports/karaoke bar’s Tracy J’s in 1996.

Who is Tracy J?
My ex-wife’s daughter.

What kind of clientele do you have?
We have karaoke on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Plus, all the Duke kids come in for basketball. We do a lot of business with basketball, baseball and football.

What about the Knick crowd?
Where? It’s not that much. It’s basically more of a college crowd.

You’ve known ex-Knick coach Larry Brown for more than 50 years. You both grew up on Long Island and played against each other in college and the pros. What kind of player was he?
Larry was a great point guard.

What’s the story about you and him getting into a fight during a game in 1961 when he was at the University of North Carolina and you were at Duke?
With about seven seconds to go, he drove for the basket and I fouled him hard. He threw the ball at me and started swinging, and I cold-cocked him. I also hit Donnie Walsh [current president of the Indiana Pacers]. All three of us were suspended. It cost Duke the national championship because we had the best team in the country.

Have you stayed in touch with Larry over the years?
Off and on. He played for New Orleans and I played for the Pittsburgh in the ABA. We beat them to win the championship.

What’s your take on Larry’s short-lived run as coach of the Knicks?
I was the only one who said it was a bad fit. I know Larry as well as anybody. That wasn’t his kind of team. And he couldn’t change it. With his egomaniacal mind, and Isiah Thomas’s and Jim Dolan’s, I knew it was going to be a bad fit. I was 100% right.

You weren’t surprised how bad the Knicks were in the 2005-2006 season?
No, not at all. It’s Larry’s way. For Larry to be happy he has to be unhappy, so he makes an unhappy situation. That’s his whole life.

What did you think of the Knicks letting him go?
It was his own doing. He went behind the boss’ back with trades. He completely demeaned his players in the papers. Stephon Marbury, Stevie Francis, Jalen Rose, all of them – and he wanted these players.

Why would he demean them when he wanted them?
Because he was getting a little crazy. New York is his hometown and they’re getting the shit kicked out of them and he has to have a reason why. It’s couldn’t be him.

You don’t think if he stuck around, he might have been able to…
No, no way. Nooo way. When your 66 years old, you have all the money in the world and you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re not going to change. You’re going to change for a 25-year-old kid? No way. Not Larry. He doesn’t conform. In professional basketball, you have to conform to the players.

What do you make of Isiah’s chances to improve the Knicks?
Isiah’s going to turn this around – and I’m not a big fan of his.

What do you think of the Knicks’ squad as it stands now?
With Larry leaving, these guys are going to come into camp in shape to show Larry Brown that he was 100% wrong. Marbury, Francis, Channing Frye and David Lee – you’ve got a good team there. If a guy has a bad game, you can’t sit him for three weeks. You get your rotation and you play. The division they’re in is not the greatest division, so they should do well.

What kind of turnaround are you predicting?
I think they’ll be 41-41 and they’ll make the playoffs. Let them run like Phoenix.

What happened during your second season with the Knicks?
I just didn’t care anymore. I had the ability, but I never had the right attitude. The worst thing that ever happened to me was being drafted by the Knicks. They thought I was the savior and I was wasn’t. I wasn’t 6’-10 and black. Back then you had to be Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlin.

Why did you stop caring?
In college, everybody worked together. In the pros, it was so individualistic. I couldn’t cope with it. I didn’t compromise. I cared in college, I cared my first year in the pros and I cared in the ABA. Every time I cared, I played well. I was my own worst enemy.

Why are there so few Jewish athletes in professional sports?
African-American kids want to get out of the ghetto through sports. Jewish kids have it too easy. Their parents don’t push them into sports, they push them into education. I just had the drive.

You’re in the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. What comes with that honor?
A plaque and I get a dozen bagels every year – without cream cheese.

Postscript: In the 2006-2007 season the Knicks improved by 10 games to 33-49. However, unlike Heyman predicted, they didn't make the playoffs.



My review of 'You, Me and Dupree' in L Magazine

Owen Wilson (Dupree), Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon and Michael Douglas can't heat up this lukewarm comedy directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. Read my review of You, Me and Dupree in New York's bi-weekly arts & entertainment guide, The L Magazine.

According to Box Office Mojo, since opening on Friday, "You, Me and Dupree scrounged up an estimated $21.3 million at 3,131 venues. In distributor Universal Pictures' research, the $54 million comedy skewed female [58%] and under 30 [58%], while the 'humor' was the top reason people selected for seeing the picture, with star Owen Wilson ranking second and co-star Kate Hudson third."

What do you think of You, Me and Dupree? Post a comment if you've already seen it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


High on Gnarls Barkley

Gnarls Barkley - the genius collaboration between rapper/singer Cee-Lo and DJ Danger Mouse - has already yielded a #2 Billboard charting single ("Crazy") and a Top 5 album (St. Elsewhere). The band's latest tour takes them through San Francisco (The Fillmore, July 18-19), Chicago (Lollapalooza, Aug. 5) and New York (Central Park Summerstage, Aug. 17). MySpace friends may be familiar with the Cheech (Cee-Lo) & Chong (Danger Mouse) parody photo (at right) that rotates on their MySpace page. Gnarls Barkley are one of the leftfield hits of the year. Check them out!

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Ratdog Incident @ Radio City

Many treats were in store for lucky ticketholders of last night's String Cheese Incident-Ratdog twinbill at Radio City Music Hall. Both bands performed 2-hour sets and closed off each respective set with a special finale.

The meeting of Bob Weir's Grateful Dead music and the upbeat, lithe jams of Colorado's String Cheese Incident has already been one of the summer-tour season's high points. Each night as the bands have zigzagged around the country, they've switched off headlining responsibilities. Last night, Ratdog were the opener, which seemed the better of the two configurations. Unfortunately, some Ratdog fans left early and missed the closing collaboration.

Unaware that Ratdog hit the stage at 7 pm, I arrived late. Following lengthy versions of "Sugaree" and "Throwing Stones," Ratdog were joined by the nearly ancient harmony group the Persuasions on Weir's "Liberty" and a beautiful a capella version of "Black Muddy River."

(The set began with "Casey Jones," "Minglewood Blues" > "She Belongs to Me," "Brown-Eyed Women," "Crazy Fingers," "Big Iron, "Victim or the Crime," "Uncle John's Band" > "The Other One.")

Last year, SCI ambitiously organized the Big Summer Classic, a multi-band tour that included Umphrey's McGee and Spearhead. This summer's SCI progam has been pared down to two bands, which leaves more time for longer sets by each one. Opening with "Way Back Home," "Restless Wind" and "Sometimes a Woman," SCI pinballed between world beats, funk, jazz and their most comfortable genre, bluegrass, with guitarist Michael Kang occasionally switching to mandolin and violin. After "Miss Brown's Teahouse" gave way to "Land's End," singer Bill Nershi simply stated, "This is for Syd," and the band launched into a tribute to the fallen Pink Floyd founder, Syd Barrett.

SCI's choice of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" prompted Ratdog's return, making it a full dozen players together on stage. To top it off, they finished with a hearty "I Know You Rider." This true melding of the Grateful Dead and String Cheese Incident spirits was warmly received by the appreciative crowd, which sang along ("gonna miss me when I'm gone") as the clock nearly struck midnight.

Tonight's the final SCI/Ratdog show, with SCI opening, at Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA. The next 12 dates of the SCI tour are mostly solo shows, with the exception of opener Railroad Earth on the last three.

This review is also available at


Friday, July 14, 2006


Bonghitters subdued

It was the best of games, it was the worst of games. A Bonghitters' 4-0 lead quickly turned into a 12-4 rout by Business Week on their astroturf field in New York's Riverside Park last night.

The High Times softballers scored 2 runs in the 1st and 2 more in the 3rd, and were playing a near perfect game through 3 innings, allowing just 1 infield hit. But BW's lefty slugger clouted a 2-run HR high over the rightfield wall in the 4th, starting their comeback. Sun glare created problems for the Bonghitters' fielders in the 5th when BW took the lead, 6-4. A 6th-inning 6-run bat-around by BW put the game out of reach.

It was the Bonghitters' 3rd loss in a row, a rarity in High Times softball history. (The last time that happened was in 1999.) The Bonghitters split their 2006 series with Business Week, winning on April 27, 12-8.

The 6-3 Bonghitters face WNYC on Monday, August 17 in Central Park. Earlier in the season, they defeated the pesky public-radio team in a rain-shortened game, 9-2.


Thursday, July 13, 2006


Guster celebrate Brooklyn!

Guster's show at the Prospect Park Bandshell last night as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn! series was an uplifting affair. The quartet plays cheery pop reminiscent of the Beach Boys. Many of the highlights were tunes from their latest album, Ganging Up on the Sun, which I reviewed for Cleveland Scene.

It was the second date of their tour with Ray LaMontagne. The next two nights they're in Philadelphia (Penn's Landing) and Wallingford, CT (Chevrolet Theatre) before heading south.

Guster are singer/guitarist Adam Gardner (top left), guitarist Joe Pisapia (top right), singer/guitarist Ryan Miller (middle left) and drummer Brian Rosenworcel (middle right).


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Syd Barrett, Johnny Damon & David Wright

Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett dead at 60

One of rock's great cult figures, Syd Barrett, passed away on July 7. Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd with Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason in 1965.

He wrote the majority of the songs (“Astronomy Domine,” "See Emily Play") on the band's first album, The Pipers at the Gates of Dawn, released in 1967. He also contributed to Pink Floyd's second album, Jugband Blues. After they toured with Jimi Hendrix, Barrett soon bowed out of the band. "Barrett's mental state began to deteriorate, most likely related to his heavy LSD intake," writes

In 1971, he told Rolling Stone: "I'm disappearing, avoiding most things. Mostly I just waste my time... I've got a very irregular head."

In his Barrett obit, New York Times' music critic Jon Pareles states: "Band members have said Mr. Barrett was unstable even before he began extensive drug use, and he developed a reputation for odd behavior. For one show, he tried to slick down his hair with a combination of Brylcreem and crushed Mandrax tranquilizer pills, which were melted by stage lights and started to ooze down his face as he played. Playing the Fillmore West on Pink Floyd’s 1967 American tour, Mr. Barrett stood staring into space and detuning the strings on his guitar. The band cut short its American tour."

Barrett recorded two solo albums in 1970, but never returned to the psychedelic band he co-founded. Much like Brian Jones, who co-founded the Rolling Stones, but left the band after several albums, Syd Barrett's place in rock history - despite his short-lived run with Pink Floyd - is secure.


Damon weed

In a cover story in the new August issue of Men's Journal, Yankee CF Johnny Damon tells Bob Klapisch that marijuana is a "part of life, it's natural, it's from the earth."

Damon smoked pot as a teenager. His dad counseled him, "If you ever want to experiment with anything, let me know. He smoked a little bit, so he said, 'Just let him know. Don't have me get a call when you're in jail. If you want to skip school, that's cool, as long as you get good grades.'"


The Wright stuff

The Met all-stars did their best to wrest World Series home advantage away from the American League in last night's AL-NL contest. David Wright, following up his stupendous performance in Monday night's Homerun Derby (he placed 2nd behind the Phillies' big bopper Ryan Howard), blasted a HR in his 1st-ever All-Star Game at-bat (the 13th player ever to accomplish that) on his first-ever All-Star Game pitch from Kenny Rogers in the 2nd inning.

CF Carlos Beltran scored the NL's other run. But that wasn't enough, as the AL came from behind with 2 runs in the 9th off of Trevor Hoffman to win, 3-2. Would Billy Wagner, had he been selected to the team, saved the game for the NL? We'll never know, of course, but what we do know is if the Mets make it to the World Series, they'll play 3 games at home instead of 4 due to the ridiculous MLB ALL-Star Game policy which awards WS home advantage to the All-Star Game victor. It should simply switch off from year to year. But you can't say the Mets didn't try to gain the advantage. Without Wright and Beltran, the NL would've been shutout.


Monday, July 10, 2006


Mets take a break, sort of

Met fans must be red all over from pinching themselves. It's All-Star Break, and the Mets (53-36) are atop the NL East by a dozen games. They have the best record in the NL (St. Louis is 4 games behind them) and the 4th-best record in the majors behind the Tigers (59-29), White Sox (57-31) and Red Sox (53-33).

Four Mets were voted on to the NL's starting All-Star lineup (David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Paul Lo Duca), amd two more pitchers were selected (Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez).

Injuries to Reyes and Martinez, and Glavine's decision to withdraw from the team because he pitched yesterday, reduces the Mets' on-field contingent to three. Tonight, Wright competes in the Homerun Derby. Perhaps his game-winning HR yesterday against Florida will provide the Mets' MVP candidate momentum to win the long-ball contest. Wright's numbers at the break are staggering: .316 BA, 20 HR, 74 RBI. At this rate, he'll break the Mets' all-time RBI record for one season (120 by Robin Ventura in 1999).

The news is virtually all-good for the Mets. Yes, Martinez is hobbling a little and the 5th starter situation has yet to be resolved, but rookie Mike Peltry should be fun to watch for a few starts in that role. Aaron Heilman's been off his game somewhat, but not enough to spoil the team's fortunes. Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd are both hitting around .250 (could do better), but Delgado has plenty of HRs and RBI. Floyd, if he stays healthy, could have a big 2nd half.

Will the Mets make a major trade before the July 31 deadline? There's still talk about them trying to acquire Dontrelle Willis. If he were available, Lastings Milledge and Pelfry might both need to be in the package for the Marlins' lefty ace and occasional slugger (see his grand slam against Jose Lima on Friday). Other pitchers' names being bandied about are Washington's Livan Hernandez and the Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez.

But for now Met fans should just sit back and enjoy the All-Game featuring a rare trio of Shea Stadium starters. An NL victory equals home advantage in the World Series, a destination the Mets have their sights firmly set on.



'High Times' Comedy Festival coming to New York

Since October, High Times Comedy Night has been featured monthly at the Hollywood Improv and more recently at the Irvine Improv. In April, the High Times Comedy Festival took place in San Francisco. High Times Comedy Night and Festival moves to New York for the first time on July 27-29 at the Gotham Comedy Club on July 27-29.

Featuring performances by some of High Times' favorite comedians:

Thursday, July 27 @ 8:30 pm

Rob Cantrell (Last Comic Standing)
Buddy Bolton (Late Night with Conan O'Brien)
Jon Fisch (Last Comic Standing)
Doug Benson (The Marijuana-logues, Best Week Ever)
The Greg Wilson (VH-1, E!)

Friday, July 28 @ 8:30 pm
Rob Cantrell (Last Comic Standing)
April Macie (Last Comic Standing)
Doug Benson (The Marijuana-logues, Best Week Ever)
The Greg Wilson (VH-1, E!)
* More performers to be announced

Friday, July 28 @ 10:30 pm
Rob Cantrell (Last Comic Standing)
Doug Benson (The Marijuana-logues, Best Week Ever)
Joey Gay (Last Comic Standing)
John Mulaney (Comedy Central's Live at Gotham)
The Greg Wilson (VH-1, E!)

Saturday, July 29 @ 8:00 pm
Rob Cantrell (Last Comic Standing)
Doug Benson (The Marijuana-logues, Best Week Ever)
Kyle Grooms (Chappelle's Show)
Tony Camin (The Marijuana-logues)
Laura Levites (Cringe Humor Show)

Saturday, July 29 @ 10:00 pm
Rob Cantrell (Last Comic Standing)
Doug Benson (The Marijuana-logues, Best Week Ever)
Jessica Wood (Def Comedy Jam)
The Greg Wilson (VH-1, E!)
* More performers to be announced

Saturday, July 29 @ 11:45 pm
Rob Cantrell (Last Comic Standing)
Doug Benson (The Marijuana-logues, Best Week Ever)
John Barchitta (Comedy Central)
KT Tatara (Comedy Central's Live at Gotham)
The Greg Wilson (VH-1, E!)

Call 212-367-9000 to reserve your tickets now!

What they're saying about High Times Comedy Night:
• "Top comedy pick!" - Los Angeles Times
• "Completely recommended!" - Los Angeles Weekly
• "Funny even if you aren't totally baked!" -
• "This is some mad funny shit, yo!" - Steve Bloom


'Entourage' enthralls

Entourage's true druggy nature came to the surface in the third season's powerful fourth episode, "Crash and Burn." For his next role, Vince is torn between the "Aquaman" sequel and a Pablo Escobar biopic directed by Paul Haggis, the Academy-Award winning director and writer, who plays himself. The major film studio Vince is contracted to won't let him take the meaty starring role. "I can't risk...having my Aquaman do three hours of blow in every multiplex in the country," the studio head tells Vince.

Eric, Vince and Haggis "brainstorm" with the of help pot and liquor.

Saigon and his homies smoke bongs with Turtle.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Piven's Ari rises to new levels of lovable smarminess; whether he's lunching with Turtle and Drama at Spago, chatting with Penny Marshall in the garage, chewing out the kid next door who seeing his 14-year-old daughter or asking his wife point-blank for a blow job, Piven's hyperagent is the real soul of Entourage. He greatly deserves to win the Emmy for suppoprting actor, which he was nominated for last week.


Saturday, July 08, 2006


Meet Mez Merai

My friend Mez Merai snapped this photo after the Industrial Canal in New Orleans split open during Katrina. The barge at left literally broke through the barrier protecting the Lower 9th Ward, causing the entire neighborhod and all areas due south (Chalmette, St. Bernard Parish) to be completely destroyed. The barge ended up next to the school bus. When I visited New Orleans in April, Mez took me to the Lower 9th Ward. He excitedly said, "Let's go see the barge." As it turned out the barge was gone, but the bus was still there.

Mez used to write and shoot photos for High Times in the '70s and '80s. My story about New Orleans will appear in the November issue of High Times.


My review of the new Guster cd in 'Cleveland Scene'

My latest CD review in Cleveland Scene is of Guster's excellent album, Ganging Up on the Sun.

Guster will be performing at the Prospect Park Bandshell on Wednesday, July 12. Singer-songwriter Ray Lamontagne and Seattle's Fruit Bats are opening for the Brooklyn-based Guster.

Timeout New York recommends the show and calls Ganging Up on the Sun "the group's most confident effort to date, with breezy indie-pop songs recalling the Shins."

Friday, July 07, 2006


'A Scanner Darkly' & 'Nacho Libre'

A Scanner Darkly

Richard Linklater's brilliant adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel A Scanner Darkly opens today. Rush to see it.

Not since Dazed and Confused has indie auteur Linklater seized on the drug issue with such zeal. But while Dazed was a lighthearted look at stoner life in the '70s, Scanner is a much more serious take on the government's attempt to eradicate a fictional drug. Starring Keanu Reeves, Scanner introduces drug cop Bob Arctor - wearing a shape-shifting suit to disguise his identity - breaking down during a speech to his fellow narcs. Arctor's under the influence of Substance D, and in turn can't quite spit out the anti-drug message he's there to offer.

As with Waking Life, Linklater employs rotoscoping animation to alter the real-time images. Each scene and character is painted somewhat psychedelically, with colors melting over the outlines, and twitching and shaking like the druggy characters depicted in the story. One such druggie is Rory Cochrane's Charlie Fleck, whose a long way down the hard-drug path than Cochrane's goodtime pothead Slater in Dazed; Substance D has him junked out, sprewing all sorts of conspiracy theories to justify his erratic behavior.

Since Arctor doesn't quite know what's happenning to him, the movie's a little hard to follow. Is he the cop who doesn't want do his job or the slacker who'd rather hang out on the couch with his buds? The buds are hysterical: two speed-talking jivers James Barris (Robert Downey Jr) and Ernie Luckman (Woody Harrelson). Topping off this amazing quintet of bad-boy and -girl Hollywood actors is Winona Ryder, who plays Arctor's coked-out dealer girlfriend.

By the end, Arctor's literally farmed out to a prison camp where he discovers the blue flower that Substance D is derived from growing all around him. Is he suddenly in heaven or is this just another hallucination? Find out for yourself.

This review is also available at

Nacho Libre

I've noticed that Nacho Libre, Jared Hess' Mexican farce starring Jack Black as Nacho, has received mostly mediocre reviews. Some feel the movie just isn't very funny, others strain to call its depiction of Mexico racist. I disagree. Yes, I'm a Jack Black fan, so it's hard for him to go wrong with me. Black's one of a handful of current comic actors who can carry a film - that includes Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, Will Farrell, Vince Vaughan and Eddie Griffin. Nacho could very well have been played by Stiller, but Black got the gig, and he nails the role.

Nacho lives and works at a monastary in Oaxaca. He longs for the hot nun and wants to be a luchador (masked Mexican wrestlers who wear "stretchy pants"). Nacho creates an outfit and begins wrestling, ultimately facing Ramses, el gran de todos los luchadores. Black's a hoot. He prances around in tights and not much else, fakes his way through Spanglish, and sports an oversized mustache. He even does some Tenacious D-style warbling. At times, he seems to be channeling John Belushi, who I've never seen him compared to.

Hess' debut, Napoleon Dynamite (last year's little movie that could), established his ability to take an offbeat character and build an entire clever movie around him. With Mike White's writing help (he scripted The Good Girl and Chuck & Buck), Nacho Libre has more heft and just a little less off-the-cuff whimsy than ND. Afterall, Nacho's goal is to help orphans and get the girl, which he does, sort of.

And, by the way, there's nothing racist abut farting after eating a bowl of frijoles. Mel Brooks wrote the book on farting (Blazing Saddles) and nobody accused him of being racist.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Your Ad Here