(at the el rey, 7/25)
i would like to skip the part where i defend or attempt to explain why i like this band, which i have attempted to do both here (scroll down) and here (scroll way down). so instead i'll just talk about the show, which i went to with my friend emma, an actual english person/one of the only people i know in this god foresaken city as slurry of traffic and burrito coverings and pain. i mention the anglo thing because the band is english-- they're from newcastle, which means they sound as if like if the english accent had an english accent, but also, a little retarded-- and even the one opening band we saw, or that i sat through while emma gawked at the lead singer who kept feeling herself up, went out of their way to cover "i wanna be adored" despite the fact they're from LA. emma said they were like the shoegazer divinyls, i thought they were like this music in the background that played while i got to sit in a nice chair.
maximo park, on the other hand, could not, cannot, will not be ignored. the band plays stadiums in europe, and while the el rey is about the size of a euro festival's bottled water tent, they didn't seem to know this. the keyboard player allowed every part of him to dance that wasn't the one hand he had to actually play music with, and he did this despite wearing some of the tightest girlyman jeans every sewn, the kind that are spandex until they get within six inches of the groin, where upon the get oddly baggy, thus giving the effect of a child wearing tights over a diaper. even the bass player, who looked like a brown robert smith, occasionally broke out of his sulk to walk to the front of the stage...and sulk more aggressively, and in plain sight.
the main attraction, of course, is lead singer paul smith. it's not just the suit, the jacket and tie of which are not long for the stage (and the tie put up quite a fight, let me tell you-- then again, it's hard to sing, dance, and remove formal wear all at once). it's not the bowler hat that covers the ill-conceived combover that he shamelessly displayed after their first record (i go off on this elsewhere, but in case you're too lazy to link, think guiliani meets hitler meets a brown rainbow with a jaunty curl at the end for extra ewww). it's not the fact that he refuses to remove the bowler hat despite the fact that he works up a sweat so intense that he soaks not just his shirt, but his pants, and i know that because it became impossible to ignore the plain evidence that brother isn't circumcised (i know, ew, but they clung like his keyboard player's jeans minus the diaper or any comparison to a child).
it's the fact that when paul smith performs, jumping about as if he had an audience of 40000 intead of 400, he's like a figure skater on dry land. if the lyric mentions crying, you can bet his hand is at his eye. if the word sky comes up, he gestures to the heavens like a gliding nancy kerrigan, or maybe even a member of 98 degrees, except faster, and with jumping, and while wearing a thick hat. and if there's a break in the beat, he's airborne, taking off from the drum riser and getting air for another triple lutz.
i can't remember the last time i've seen a show like this-- the kind of show where the band bows at the end, and the singer plays with the microphone stand, and the audience loses their shit. i held on to most of my shit, but i never got bored, and i found myself joyfully laughing more than once. when a guy in a bowler hat does an artistic physical interpretation of the words, "the coast is always changing," making it seem as if he is a changing coast, and then swivels the hips he doesn't have before doing another aerial routine, you try not to be amused.
and the show came just at the right time, just after i got back to LA and was wondering if things were going to get any better. when emma and i had time to burn during the first opening band, we got ice cream at a place where the outdoor tables had a view of a strip club, a "captivity" billboard, and a parking lot. this was the LA i remembered. this did not bode well. but then we went to the show, and it was a show-- it was a full on, no holds barred, forget the traffic and burrito coverings-style spectacle. in other words, it was great. they stuck the landing, just like they stuck to their pants.
i love wet hot american summer-- i saw it in theater on 2nd avenue and laughed so hard that other people were afraid to laugh with me. i have since seen it on dvd several times, with and without the fart track. and while i never really watched the state-- i felt the need to pledge allegiance to the kids in the hall at the time, as if there was some sort of north/south comedy troupe war that would end with dave foley being shot outside a casino in vegas-- and don't really watch reno 911, i wouldn't miss another state-related absurdist venture into cinema. especially if it was playing at 7:30 and at 7 i'd driven by the line for seeing pee wee's big adventure at the hollywood forever cemetery and realized it was a pipe dream.
anyway, the movie is 10 short vignettes based on the 10 commandments, and while some are very funny (lord's name in vain, with spanish narration that revels in saying the word vagina, which i realize makes it seem like the lord's name is vagina, but that's not what i meant), and some are only just kinda funny (honor your parents, which involves a governator impersonator, so...yeah), one really, really sucks.
because i don't get-- and i ask this earnestly out of sincere confusion-- what's so funny about prison rape? take out the word prison, and we're just mocking rape here. and i'm not exactly a petite fleur or anything, lobbying for all rape-related jokes to be banished like that absurd movement to remove the "n-word" from spoken language. in fact, there was one rape-related joke in the bit that was funny, in as much as it was a joke relating to rape, but i don't find anything inherently funny about the line of humor that revolves around men getting raped in prison.
maybe in a broad way, like, "that guy's going to make me his bitch, i don't want to toss salad, i'm wife to no man," etc, but even then, that shit is so tired. jokes always go in cycles, either because everyone's riffing on the same news blurb (hello, astronaut in a diaper) or because something just enters the general comedy consciousness (sup, inexplicable spate of bea arthur jokes in 1999). and prison jokes were unofficially retired after that prison movie tanked hard, despite the fact it involved almost everyone i find funny (bob odenkirk, will arnett...and wasn't it written by those two guys from the state that who will write whatever for whoever without shame, ie, my kind of heroes?).
so this one vignette is about a guy in prison who's getting brutally raped, and in the last moments, we hear him getting brutally raped. so...hi. and the set up is that he's strangely courted by his new rapist, as if they have a rapist/rapee chemistry, but having the punchline being the graphic, not-jokey sounds of a guy being violated? help me out.
i see the "the ten" in EW terms-- most of the bit gets A- and Bs, but one F brings the whole grade down to a solid B-/C+. because really, i don't get it, and i don't get how they get it, especially since they spend most of the rest of the movie, and in their movies, getting it, and getting it right.
*"apply some pressure" - mark ronson/paul smith.
mark ronson is a former celebutard dj who wanted to prove he could do more than have his butler bring his record collection to clubs so he could get paid for putting plates of vinyl on turntables and call it a skill. one of his sisters is also a celebutard dj, and another designs flip-flops. clearly, they are a boon to the human race.
and i know this is excessively harsh, because really, god bless them and their wealth and their top-of-the-line beach/slob footwear, but it just irks me because mark ronson has been getting a lot of attention lately. first, for producing amy winehouse's breakout/180, "back to black," and now for putting out a record of remixes called "version." i have the amy winehouse record, and i have one song from version, because it's a remix of (bringing it full circle) maximo park. and i think both are kind of fucking retarded.
let me compare to the world of garments-- when i lived in new york, one of my many bullshit jobs was peddling vintage, which meant going to thrift stores and looking for pieces to resell to boutiques, designers, beacon's closet, or anyone willing to help me make a profit on the 5 cents i paid in the first place. one thing you always had to look out for was pieces that were vintage to the point of being costumey-- a 70s shirt that was less cool and more brady bunch, an 80s sweater that wasn't so much hip as it was napoleon dynamite. and when i hear mark ronson, his production, to me, sounds like the equivalent of that rejected 70s shirt. he didn't give amy winehouse a unique sound-- he gave her a sound so specific and dated that she might as well be singing about rehab over some lost score from little shop of horrors.
and with "apply some pressure," it's more of the same shit, more instrumentation that's as original and authentic as that 50s themed diner in ghost world that had those tabletop jukeboxes that played gangsta rap. it's interesting to hear the song remixed, but the style of remix could not be more cartoonish and dull. i think mark ronson has a great career in front of him writing the music for the next john waters broadway extravaganza, or maybe producing a remix of "leader of the pack," but otherwise, surprise, he's still not a dj. they wanted me to buy the hype, and i said no, no, no. and neither should you.