Another collection of the trivial, the inane, the entertaining, and the viral.
1. At this year's Glastonbury Music Festival, the campervan-centric crowd was treated to a star-studded, diverse lineup of rock n' roll acts. Everyone from Neil Diamond through Kings of Leon and Ben Folds -- all typical festival favorites. The headliner, however, was none other than Ya Boy, Jay-Z. The King of Hip-Hop. At a rock concert? In fact, there was a minor controversy among backward-thinking traditionalists that the rap legend had no business getting such a prestigious billing at a festival that historically favors Fenders to turntables. One of the more vocal members of this group was Noel Gallagher of Oasis, who took a break from burning through his money to express indignation at Jay-Z's invitation. "I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury," he said, "It's wrong."
Jay-Z's response to Gallagher's criticism was to sarcastically cover "Wonderwall" to open his set, mumbling the words, skipping verses, and grinning non-stop.
After listening, I suggest heading over to Slate. The magazine has an interesting article up about the Jay-Z performance specifically, and about the current trend of ironic covers in general. Apparently, it's become fashionable for more "credible" acts to send-up pop songs. Some of the examples, such as Alanis Morrissette's cover of "My Humps", are terrific, and others are as condescending as the article says. I have two other personal favorites from this genre that I'd be remiss not to mention. Greg Laswell's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", which makes the song sound just as right as a bittersweet love song rather than a fun party anthem.
And of course, there's Obediah Parker's cover of "Hey Ya," which proves just how good a song Andre 3000 wrote the first time around.
2. As an unemployed dreamer with an interest in entertainment, I've been seriously considering a move to Los Angeles. One of the biggest thorns in that plan, though, is that, like all native New Yorkers, I've been taught that L.A. is Satan's playground, a nest of seediness and scumminess where MTV reality shows reign. It doesn't help that I read Less Than Zero in high school and learned to drive only recently.
A lot of what I fear and loathe about Los Angeles is summed up in the crudely hilarious "Hot Chicks with Douchebags" website , a tremendous collection of the worst aspects of American culture. The site still screams "So-Cal" to me, though I know a great deal of the content is from Jersey and Long Island -- certainly "Joey Porsche" is an East Coast phenomenon. Perhaps what this really comes down to is I'm very insecure and intolerant of many people and their interests. But this is what I think L.A. is like, and until I'm proven wrong, I'll continue to believe that Hall of Fame douchebags like "Pumpy" reside somewhere between Venice Beach and the San Fernando Valley.
3. Every so often there's a viral video sensation that seemingly sweeps through everyone you know, entering the pantheon of cultural significance faster than Wedding Crashers, providing common ground and connecting people through ridiculousness. And then you find out that one of your best friends, with whom you share all laughs, tears, and memories, has never even heard of it. This was my experience last week with Bubb Rub of Whistle Tip fame and my roommate Matthew Lee. Lest my readers similarly disappoint their friends, the video -- one of the more ludicrous things I've ever seen -- is right here:
4. Like everyone else, I love The Onion, but I have a particular soft spot for their "Weekender" covers, parodying New York Times Magazine-esque stories and in turn the rest of America. I recommend "Natural Childbirth: How Morally Superior Does It Make You?", , or, this one about the crisis in Burma.
One from this spring is relevant in the wake of The Dark Knight's monster box office and absolute domination of all other movies I've seen in the past two years (with the exception of The Lives of Others).
5. If you're too cheap to buy it on newsstands, check out the current Esquire's cover story on their website, a slide show of the decline of white men, written by Stephen Colbert.
6. My prediction for the next stand-up comic to strike it really big (at least as big as Jim Gaffigan, but I'm thinking bigger) is Dimitri Martin. Yes, he plays the guitar in his act (sometimes), but he's less in the vein of a Fallon or Sandler than college hero Mitch Hedberg. A sample below:
7. Entertainment Weekly's website has a list of the top 25 TV exits , which all in all looks pretty sound. It's amazing how few shows end on a worthy note, which makes MASH and Six Feet Under very, very impressive. I never watched Six Feet Under, on HBO or DVD, but I watched the last six minutes of the series on YouTube and it blew me away.