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Monday, Dec 18, 2006

New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund


The holidays are virtually around the corner now and time is running out for those last minute shoppers among you.  If you love music (which we assume you do as PopMatters readers) and have gifts left to buy for fellow music-lovers (or even yourself), we can think of nothing better than to recommend a donation to the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund.  Yes, more than a year after Katrina, there are still many musicians without instruments and the basics they need to practice their art.  New Orleans is a national treasure.  More original American musical art forms have been birthed inside the levees of the Crescent City than anywhere else in the US.  Today’s musicians work hard to maintain and build upon that tradition and they do, when they have the tools to do so.  As the true culture hounds that you are, please donate on behalf of your loved ones during these holidays or head on over to the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund’s CafePress store to pick up t-shirts and more to show your support. [New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund | CafePress store]


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Monday, Dec 18, 2006

This set of all three complete Sullivan telecasts on which Presley appeared captures Elvis’s point of entry into mainstream American consciousness. And, in context, it’s easy to see just why he made such a splash.  At the peak of his early career and in rude health, Presley still captures your attention with more authority than most anyone before or since, especially on the first two shows, from September 9 and October 28, 1956. With his loose-fitting sport coat and dark slacks, D.A. haircut greased up high and almost-unhinged energy, the 21-year-old Presley is breathtaking—a tidal wave of youth, energy, and vitality that almost literally blows the other acts off the screen. His soft yet undeniably masculine, almost porcelain good looks; tractor-beam charisma, and perfect mix of confidence and humility remind you once again that, whatever else may be said about him, this man somehow invented a look, an aura, a gene that could be described only as “Rock Star”.


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Monday, Dec 18, 2006

Though it appears to be purposefully poking fun at a certain two term President and his penchant for bold-faced stupidity, South Park scribes Trey Parker and Matt Stone actually had lofty goals for their first live action sitcom. They wanted to satirize the whole TV comedy genre, from the wacky neighbor next door to the predictable plotting that finds major pragmatic and moral issues resolved in less than 22 minutes. But viewers weren’t quite prepared to see their Commander in Chief bumbling around like a boob, and the terrorist attacks of 9/11 turned much of the show’s premise into entertainment poison. Now seems like the perfect time to revisit this brave attempt at tweaking television, thanks in part to the recent DVD release of all eight episodes.


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Monday, Dec 18, 2006

While he’s currently collecting residuals—and the occasional lawsuit—for his intensely popular turn as the bumbling Borat, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen first came to the notice of many Americans through this short-lived cable series. A long-standing star in his native UK, Cohen created three memorably misguided characters—hip-hop poseur Ali G, gay fashionista Bruno, and the aforementioned Kazakhstan reporter—to ambush the celebrated into exposing their foibles. For many, this is the format where the talented trickster truly succeeds. Stripped of cinema’s necessary narrative, Cohen is liberated, able to freely satirize any and every thing. While HBO must be unhappy for ending this series before his recent box office bonanza, this DVD set proves they were on the frontlines of Cohen’s conquering of comedy.


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Monday, Dec 18, 2006

For his first film for a major studio (20th Century Fox) skin flick pioneer Russ Meyer teamed up with friend Roger Ebert, to create a satirical commentary inspired by Jacqueline Susann’s trash epic. Following a fictional rock band, The Carrie Nations, the results were deemed so raunchy that the MPAA awarded the film an X. Though it made lots of money, Fox found the association with Meyer’s mammary-heavy films of the past disruptive to their reputation. After only one other film, the anarchic auteur was sent packing. Long rumored for a Criterion release, the company that once kicked its creator to the curb is now embracing this title with a full blown special edition DVD release. And the results are resplendent, instantly reviving a cult camp classic.


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