“Government Center” – The Modern Lovers

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This is one of my favorite Jonathan Richman songs, dedicated to my favorite civil servant  … my lovely and hard-working wife.

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“Tall Order for a Short Guy” – Earth Quake

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One of my favorite tracks from the famous “Beserkley Chartbusters” compilation album from the mid-1970s is this very cool, rockin’ cover of Jonathan King’s “Tall Order for a Short Guy.”

The band Earth Quake had been around since the mid-1960s, recorded two albums for A&M Records, and then later joined the fledgling independent label Beserkley in the early 1970s, where they achieved greater success. While Beserkley is better known as the home of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, the label was formed by Earth Quake’s manager Matthew King Kaufman, when Kaufman received compensation when Earth Quake’s music was used against their knowledge or permission in Sam Peckinpah’s “The Getaway.”)

One of the earliest and best examples of what later became known as power pop in the late 1970s.

“Basquiat” (1996) dir. Julian Schnabel

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One of the best films about an artist’s life I’ve ever seen, as well as being one of the coolest films I’ve ever seen about any subject, “Basquiat” is a biopic chronicling the fast times and short life of legendary 1980s postmodernist/neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat created some brilliant (and highly commercial) art and also ran with a lot of famous people (Andy Warhol, Madonna, Keith Haring) back in the day. However, personal demons and drug abuse wound up getting the better of him and Basquiat died of a heroin overdose in 1988.

Jeffrey Wright does a terrific job in the lead role as Basquiat and leads an all-star cast that includes David Bowie as Andy Warhol, Gary Oldman playing a character based on director/artist Julian Schnabel, Michael Wincott as critic Rene Ricard, Dennis Hopper as art dealer Bruno Bischofberger, and Christopher Walken, Courtney Love, Claire Forlani, Benicio Del Toro, Tatum O’Neal in supporting roles.

“Basquiat” also boasts one of the coolest soundtracks of any film, featuring the Pogues, Public Image Ltd., Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Charlie Parker, Melle Mel, the Modern Lovers, and Peggy Lee among others.

This was director Julian Schnabel’s directorial debut, a career that has led to great films such as “Before Night Falls,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” and “Lou Reed’s Berlin.”