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Kidd Stays in the Picture

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Music, Posts

The MC at Wednesday’s Vision Festival Lifetime Achievement performance for Kidd Jordan introduced the guest of honor by means of analogy: “Basketball’s got MJ. But we’ve got KJ!” Judging from what followed, it’s fair to say that His Airness would be humbled by the comparison. If pro hoops were more like Mr. Jordan’s tone, I might actually give a shit about the NBA Finals.

But let’s put a few things in perspective: Mr. Jordan, who is 73 and plays tenor like a baby trying to be born, headlined four of the evening’s five sets, screamed to heaven half-a-dozen times, at one point MacGyver-ed a sax valve out of a rubber band, and did it all in a t-shirt and jeans. “This guy looks like my grandfather,” my buddy said about twelve seconds before going whoa for the next two hours.

Forgive the hyperbole. Every set was the best...

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BREAKING NEWS: Tina Fey Delivers Commencement Address at Local High School

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Education, Posts

At this moment, 30 Rock-star and SNL alum Tina Fey is speaking at the Fieldston School’s graduation ceremonies. Fieldston, one of the city’s private, prestigious “Hill” high schools, counts a diverse menagerie of movers and shakers among its former students: everyone from the late photographer Diane Arbus, to the father of the atom bomb Robert [&hellip
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Setting Up Camp: ‘Brokeback Mountain’ the Opera to Have Singing Homosexual Horsemen

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts

Applying a libretto to Hollywood gold has traditionally served as a recipe for camp disaster: see the recent undersea shambolics of Disney’s Broadway resuscitation of The Little Mermaid or, even better, 1988’s legendarily botched and blood-soaked Carrie: The Musical. But with the New York City Opera’s recent commission of another book-to-blockbuster property, this tawdry trend may finally receive it’s up-market renaissance: polish your boots, boys, for the 2013 stage premiere of Brokeback Mountain.

Opera doesn’t really tap into the gay cultural stereotyping of its musical theater kid-sister, which makes the choice of genre for this landmark homosexuals-on-horses remake not only compelling in its unorthodoxy, but ambitious in its bucking of commercial instinct. Factor in the artistic pedigree of the piece’s composer, Pulitzer Prize-winning, MacArthur Foundation Fellow Charles Wuorinen, and the endeavor almost begins to seem capable of breaking bank on its basically preposterous concept...

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Vision Festival Begins Tonight and Kidd Jordan Wednesday Night

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Music, Posts

 Vision Festival, the annual avant-jazz series now entering its 13th year, kicks off tonight at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center in lower Manhattan with performances by renowned percussionist Hamid Drake, the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet and master trumpeter Dave Douglas starting at 7pm. Continuing through Sunday the 15th, the festival will encompass spoken-word compositions, [&hellip
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Why the Adaptation of Palahniuk’s ‘Choke’ Looks Like the Latest Apatow Fella Flick

Written by Ben Lasman on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts



Perhaps it’s fitting that the trailer for Choke, the upcoming film adaptation to be released in September based on pop-brutalist author Chuck Palahniuk’s 2001 novel of the same name, looks conspicuously like the newest Judd Apatow joint. For all their aesthetic divergences—sexual violence vs. sexual anxiety, sexual predation vs. sexual responsibility, etc.—the two bro-auteurs essentially court opposite sides of the same, Jäger-gargling, controller-hamming demographic. Palahniuk writes books for people who don’t really like books, and Apatow makes chick flicks for the fellas.

In all likelihood, fans of this writer’s practiced nihilism will find themselves gagging on the Choke preview. The first thing we see is two dudes in a red-lit bar. It’s pure 40 Year Old Virgin-ity, except there’s a woman in lingerie and everyone’s talking about cancer. That jaunty guitar noodle that seems to find its way into every funny/sad flick out there makes a repeat appearance, dropping out portentously whenever the pretty, damaged girl unleashes a punch-line. I’m not all that excited, but apparently this won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for Work by an Ensemble Cast, so really, all bets are off.

Despite this boost, the market leader in grand-guignol fiction, or, as he probably prefers to be called, Shaulkner, has tipped precariously into critical disrepute. Peep the New York Times epic rip of his latest novel, Snuff...

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