There’s a brilliant and crucial, nearly 6-minute scene from “Boogie Nights” that was deleted before its theatrical release set to Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” that should be seen by any fan of the film. In it, Becky Barnett (played by Nicole Ari Parker), the porn actress that got married to a Pep Boys manager, finds her new life outside the industry to be a nightmare of domestic violence, a scene all-too-common when a porn star marries a “civilian.” The civilian, in question, is turned on by the notion of being with a porn star, but paradoxically, can’t handle that person’s past. It’s the Madonna-whore complex at its ugliest. Becky calls on Dirk Diggler (played by Mark Wahlberg) to rescue her, but he’s so far gone on cocaine to be an effective savior for Becky, wrecking his car on the way to saving her.
It’s likely Anderson deleted the scene from the final film because of the film’s overall length (already at over 2.5 hours), but he also mentioned (in the DVD commentary) he thought this was too depressing a scene for a film that has enough dark moments in its last third and that by deleting it, he wanted to give at least one of his characters a happy ending (Becky’s wedding earlier in the film). While I don’t think the scene’s deletion detracts from the film, its inclusion would have made the final third more powerful, albeit more depressing. Still, at the end of the scene, there’s no clue what happens to Becky after she confronts her husband. So … as much as I admire this scene … Anderson probably made the best choice in deleting it. Given that, it’s still worth seeing. Please note that this is a very unpleasant scene to watch and is not safe for work or delicate sensibilities.
Life in a Blender are an extremely cool band that could best be described as Camper Van Beethoven and Tom Waits getting Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers really, really drunk … though even that doesn’t do them justice. They may be quirky, but while I realize the adjective “quirky” can be a negative these days, trust me when I say they are quirky in the BEST way. They’re terrific musicians with unconventional skewed lyrics and I’m not quite sure my lame analogy above even remotely does them justice. The best thing I can say about them is that they are true originals and their style is next-to-impossible to copy or duplicate. My biggest surprise is that they’ve been around since the 1990s and I haven’t heard of them until this past week. In any case, you’re encouraged to check them out … specifically on Dave’s Strange Radio, where they have been generously thrown into rotation.
In honor of the “Dumb and Dumber” sequel being released this weekend, I thought I would give a shout-out to the original “Dumb and Dumber” duo, Cheech & Chong. I saw this movie for the first time in January 1982 on HBO when I was 12 years old and sick with the flu. It was one of the worst flu’s I’ve ever had, but up until that moment in my life, no movie ever made me laugh harder this this one and I directly credit the endorphins that this film released with my recovery a day afterwards. Maybe I was on way to recovery anyway … who knows? Who cares! After nearly 35 years, this film still holds up as a demented and surreal comedy masterpiece and is the BEST of all the Cheech & Chong movies. “Up in Smoke” is really good, but “Next Movie” is much better in my opinion.
Included here are several scenes from the film. Most of them are juvenile and stupid and not safe for work. But even as a jaded mid-40s something, they still make me laugh.
My favorite scene is a weird scene where the fellas visit the local welfare office so Cheech can get a quickie with one of his girlfriends while Chong sits in the lobby with clinically insane people, including … what I believe is … the first appearance of Michael Winslow in a film. This looks like an outtake from a Robert Downey Sr. film.
One of my favorite pieces of rock criticism … as well as psychology about a certain type of “friend” many people have during their teens / early 20s … is Chuck Klosterman’s analysis of Ted Nugent from the book “Fargo Rock City”:
“My problem with Ted Nugent is that guys who aspire to be like him – or are just like him by default – make me feel ashamed for liking hard rock. They have no sense of of humor and they beat people up and they kill cats for no reasons. They get totally f–ked up on Budweiser anytime they’re in public; if they smoke pot, they only do so when they’re already drunk, so they never get mellow … Once you become friends with these people … you can never relax. If you get drunk with these guys, they will write on your face with a black Magic Marker. They will literally p–s all over you. They will steal your car and intentionally drive it into a ditch … If you’re not consciously being an a–hole to someone else, you will become a victim. And what can you do? Nothing. And why not? Because these are your goddamn friends.”
This apparently aired at 4:00 am on the Adult Swim channel at some point during the last night or so in a spot normally reserved for infomercials. It starts out as a very funny parody of really bad 1980s sitcom opening credits sequences and then goes increasingly off the rails during its 11+ minutes. You really need to watch ALL of this. This is pure demented genius. Not safe for work.
One of the most legendary interviews of Marc Maron’s legendary WTF podcast was a two-part interview with comedian Carlos Mencia in 2010. Mencia is a stand-up who had a successful Comedy Central show called “Mind of Mencia” during the mid-2000s and was a very popular stand-up comedian in his own right. My own feelings about Mencia? I enjoyed “Mind of Mencia.” I never went out of way to watch it or could call myself a great fan, but I thought the show was enjoyable enough. However, Mencia is probably known more nowadays (rightly or wrongly) for charges of being a “joke-thief,” which came to a head in 2007 when comedian Joe Rogan confronted Mencia at the Comedy Store with these charges, which was caught on video and spread like wildfire across the internet at the time.
In 2010, Mencia appeared on Maron’s podcast to discuss these charges and the first part of this interview seems very persuasive towards Mencia’s point-of-view. As someone who majored in Rhetoric as an undergrad, I have to say that Mencia argues his points extremely well emotionally. If you know nothing else about the controversy, Mencia is very persuasive. However, after the interview is over, Maron expresses that he felt that Mencia wasn’t being entirely honest, so Maron talked to some of Mencia’s peers who refuted many of Mencia’s claims in subsequent interviews. Maron himself even talks of a time that Mencia was a last-minute lead-in to a gig that Maron was supposed to host … and stayed on stage for 2 hours (a major no-no in the comedy world) … to the point where Maron abandoned the gig. During Part 2 of the interview, even Mencia acknowledges that the gesture was a f–k you to Maron at the time.
So … Maron asked Mencia to address these charges in a follow-up interview … which Mencia … surprisingly … agreed to. Part 2 of the interview is where things get VERY real and intense between Maron and Mencia. To Mencia’s credit, he really does seem to try to come to terms with the bad stuff he’s done, but … he doesn’t quite get there.
This is truly one of the most uncomfortable interviews I’ve ever experienced … mainly because the person being interviewed is someone who’s made a lot of mistakes and is trying to come to terms with all the bad stuff he’s done over the years. He’s trying to deal with it in an honest way, but he can’t help but be defensive because he hasn’t quite processed the damage he may have done. If what’s been said against Mencia is true, he truly does deserve the crap that’s reigned down upon him. Hearing Mencia acknowledge the damage he’s done … while denying the dignity of the complaints … is a masterstroke of denial. Mencia is VERY convincing and does make some good points. But at the same time, you also want to shake your head at the mental and verbal gymnastics taking place here.
What ultimately comes across is someone being forced to deal with the totality of their life’s decisions and how their decisions (frequently bad) over several years are now coming to a head. If anyone listens to the second part of this interview and still thinks Mencia is an unredeemable piece of s–t is someone who has never made a mistake or been called out for the totality of their bad decisions. Mencia may not be a great … or even good … human being. But if you listen to this and don’t feel lucky for not being called out publicly on your own BS, you’re a better human being that I could ever hope to be … or you’re a lying sack of s–t.
Again, this is one of the most uncomfortable interviews I’ve ever listened to, but if you have any interest in comedy … or psychology … this almost 2.5 hour compilation of interviews is a must-hear. This may not quite be the final two hours of the infamous “Frost / Nixon” interviews, but for the comedy world, this comes really close.
I have mixed feelings about Martin Scorsese’s classic “rockumentary” “The Last Waltz” which chronicles … at least at that point … the last concert of The Band at Winterland in 1976. But this moment from “Waltz” … for me … is the film’s finest moment and the best version of “The Weight” ever recorded in my opinion. I’ve always felt I was supposed to like this song more than I did, given its prominence on classic rock radio and in several seminal films from “Easy Rider” to “The Big Chill.” However, this version featured in “Waltz” is transcendent and beautiful. I love the interplay between the Band and the Staple Singers on this version.
Chris Rock’s monologue from last night’s Saturday Night Live has been drawing a lot of fire from some people but I think it’s the best SNL host monologue in years. And while I’m not a friend of … nor related to … anyone hurt or killed in either the 9/11 or Boston Marathon tragedies, I don’t think Rock said anything to demean the victims or their families. He’s found a very funny way to talk about common fears and used that as a springboard to criticize how American culture commercializes tragedies and other meaningful human events. Just as some people immediately jumped on to the “I’m offended” or “too soon” bandwagons, others are probably going to go overboard and call Rock’s monologue “brave,” which … I suspect .. even Rock would likely scoff at. Because … these are jokes. And they’re funny. And they’re coming from a good place. So, enough of my yakkin’ … just watch and laugh. Or … be offended … and watch something you do like. In any case, it’s all good.
There are many interpretations of what the lyrics of this song mean … some of them thoughtful, others not so much. I’m not sure what’s going on in this song, from the barely heard Robert Altman-esque dialogue in the background, to the lyrics which sound like someone having a mental breakdown, but I’m mainly focusing on the wall of noise that surges louder and louder as the song progresses to have the entire thing crash down into a million pieces at the end. This was the first Weezer song I remember hearing and when I found out Ric Ocasek from the Cars produced this, I thought “Of course.” Mainly because I thought Weezer (circa 1994) sounded like a more radio-friendly version of the Pixies in much the same way the Cars were a more radio-friendly (at least in America) version of Roxy Music. This is not meant a slam to either Weezer or the Pixies (or the Cars or Roxy Music), because that first Weezer album (the self-title “blue” album) takes everything that’s great about the Pixies and adds more hooks. It’s a classic pop album and it’s the one I most frequently return to, even though I love a lot of Weezer’s later albums. “Undone” is my favorite song off the “blue” album.