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by Bill Gibron

13 Jul 2009

It’s taken a lot of deep thoughts, and two movies, but this critic has finally figured out what makes Sacha Baron Cohen “funny”. Now, I’m not talking about hilarious in the traditional sense. Only a juvenile would chuckle out loud at the kind of stilted shock tactics the British comic offers up as jokes. After all, if you’ve seen one flopping phallus or anti-Semitic cartoon, you’ve seen them all. Nor am I commenting on the always offered “skewering social commentary” angle to his supposed wit. Running into the woods with rednecks and exposing their narrow minded proclivities is the intellectual equivalent of challenging babies to chess. No, Cohen is funny because he offers up ideas that are tired, obvious, and completely calculated, and then gets those recently born suckers that PT Barnum loved to mention to buy into it freely and openly. He’s not laughing with you. He’s laughing at you!

Let me explain. If you were to walk into a room of right wing politicians and find a couple of complete nimrods that believe the world is flat, evolution is a myth, and that God created man, woman, and organized sports, you’d giggle - but not out of surprise. Many people wear their beliefs so fully on their rolled up sleeves that it’s almost impossible not to see them. No, your titter comes from seeing stupidity so blatantly exposed. For Cohen, this is the foundation of his brand of “funny”. He goes to a meeting of NOW and degrades women. He heads to the Middle East and mocks a known terrorist. He takes a trip to Texas and gets a beer-ed up bar to sing along with a song about dropping Jews down a well. He walks directly into the line of fire and then screams - usually in character - about how horribly hot it is. Now, this is not novel. Anyone could do it. As long as you have the guts, finding hate in a hotbed of prejudice should be a slamdunk.

by PopMatters Staff

13 Jul 2009

Lily Allen has just released her latest video. “22” attacks the misogyny inherent in the assumption that a woman’s life is over once she’s past the full flower of youth.

by Mike Garrett

13 Jul 2009

Let’s face it, some 40 years after John, Paul, George and Ringo went their separate ways, it seems that that there is little that is known about the Beatles that isn’t already known, to crib a phrase from All You Need Is Love.

At last count, there are nearly 500 books in print about the Fab Four, and more keep coming out every year. This begs the question: Do we really need another book about the Beatles?

by C.L. Chafin

13 Jul 2009

Despite being on DFA, despite having a logo that looks like some kind of pseudo-Eg-Banger rip-off, and despite having a name that makes them sound like a bedroom house music project from Sweden, Free Energy is, in fact, heartbreakingly melodic, toe-tapping, Southern-and-glam-inflected rock for stoners in fact and theory. Fans of Big Star, T-Rex, and getting drunk in rusted-out pickup trucks should get very excited.

by Sachyn Mital

13 Jul 2009

Whether poised behind his laptop or seated at the grand piano, Jóhann Jóhannsson maintained a stoic and unfathomable expression most of this evening. Though the Icelandic musician was set to make his US debut in the fall of 2008, that show was unfortunately cancelled. But this summer he started a short American jaunt with two performances at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City as part of the Wordless Music Series. In his minimal style, he builds recurring themes from traditional orchestral instruments and electronic elements. His last two albums—IBM 1401, A User’s Manual and Fordlandia—are two parts in a planned trilogy of conceptual albums with technological and corporate American themes.


Accompanying Jóhannsson was the New York based American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) who opened the evening with a performance of Gavin Bryars’ piece, “String Quartet No 1 (“Between the National and the Bristol”)”. After a short break to rearrange the stage, ACME returned on strings, backing Jóhannsson at his laptop, devices, and piano along with Matthias Hemstock fiddling away with electronics and percussion.

The show began with three songs from the newer Fordlandia: “Fordlandia”, which welcomes and guides the listener along before bursting open over a vast glacial panorama, “Melodia (i)”, and the ever-persistent “The Rocket Builder”. Projections of early footage of automobiles and highway construction shone along the walls.

Jóhannsson and ACME also took songs from earlier works, like his debut Englabörn including “Jói & Karen” and “Sálfræðingur”. These songs evoked cinematic images of hurriedly traversing dark alleys observant of peril, as the strings kept the melody and tempo verging on panic before unexpectedly it cuts to black. The sinister aura leaves an uneasy feeling lingering afterwards.

Other pieces were excerpts from past compositions, “Corpus Camera” and “Viktoria og Georg”, and two parts from IBM, “Part I Processing Unit” and “Part V The Sky’s Gone Dim and the Sky’s Turned Black” whose forlorn, processed titular vocal vanishes as it switches to sweeping operatic singing and strings that descend to a more hopeful place.

The sole encore was “Odi et Amo”, a short piece that continued the evening’s somber mood (rarely interrupted aside from waitresses bringing out beer or milk and cookies). And though the stark white lighting rarely varied, only shifting into red and blue tones near the end, the projections remained monochromatic, changing from archival film footage to Icelandic landscapes to abstract scribbles. But finally as the applause came, ACME took their bows and Jóhannsson broke his stoney façade, smiled and bowed.

//Mixed media

Players Lose Control in ‘Tales from the Borderlands’

// Moving Pixels

"This is an interactive story in which players don’t craft the characters, we just control them.

READ the article