“So Early in the Morning” – Trouble Funk

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Trouble Funk was one of the best of the go-go bands back in the 1980s. The only thing most people remember about go-go was that song “Da Butt” by EU from Spike Lee’s “School Daze.” If you think music from Washington DC begins with Minor Threat and ends with Fugazi, you need to check this out. Get ready to shake your a–!

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“Walking on a Wire” – Richard and Linda Thompson (Live, 1982, Washington DC)

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Here is what could only be described as an extremely rare live performance by Richard and Linda Thompson performing the shattering “Walking on a Wire” during a live tour in 1982. From the classic album “Shoot out the Lights,” this is a very heavy song about a relationship on the ropes. Perversely, this was likely written during a time of trouble between the Thompsons, as they divorced soon after this album was released. Of course, the Thompsons have consistently denied any connection between “Shoot out the Lights” and the end of their marriage. Just like Woody Allen’s acidic 1992 film “Husbands and Wives” in NO way reflected Allen’s and Mia Farrow’s relationship issues.

In any case, a truly marvelous performance and watching Richard work that guitar during the stunning solo near the end of the song is always a jaw-dropping experience.

“Bad Lieutenant” (1992) dir. Abel Ferrara

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“Bad Lieutenant” was one of the best films of the 1990s and a film that continues to fascinate and provide food for thought as the years go on. The plot seems simple (and deceptively Conservative): a corrupt cop (masterfully played by Harvey Keitel) with various addictions: gambling, drugs, sex … reaches a major crisis point, finds Jesus, and understands the true nature of Christianity. The problem (at least of for Christian Conservatives) is that Keitel’s journey is an NC-17 rated charter to Hell, with graphic sex, nudity, violence, and drug use. Keitel’s character’s hallucination / breakdown in front of Jesus, as well as his subsequent giving some crack-smoking rapists $30,000 and a bus ticket out of town, really made me understand the concept of Grace. This will likely offend most people who call themselves Christians, but it also makes me understand what Christianity is about in a way that never made sense to me before. Admittedly, it’s not enough to make me run back to church, but it’s still pretty powerful … and a great testament to Ferrara as a filmmaker and potential (albeit wacked-out) theologian.

The attached red-band trailer is admittedly awful, but it’s at least consistent with most art-house trailers. The film is way better than this trailer would make you believe.

I remember seeing this film on a sleety, gray, miserable day in February 1993 in downtown Washington DC.  The theater I went to see it in (the Janus 3) was pretty run-down.  It wasn’t what I would call a grindhouse, but definitely a venue that had seen better days.  In retrospect, it was the perfect setting to see this f–ked up masterpiece.

This was one of Martin Scorsese’s favorite films of the 1990s.