Rockcrit and A-Mama Ann Powers thinks way too hard sometimes

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Overdue Goodbye

I'm shutting down this blog. I know, I really did so long ago. But now it's formally dead. I think I'm gonna start another one so look for it.....meanwhile read me at


Thursday, December 13, 2007


I don't know, maybe I'll revive this thing. I've been busy writing my hands off at my regular gig; you can check that stuff here.

Meanwhile, just wanted to share a couple of wise words the squirt offered recently. Both came from the carseat as we drove home from Montessori.

"Mommy, when I was sleeping last night I was a mermaid!" Thus, our girl articulates dreaming for the first time.

And this one I want on a t-shirt:

"I have magic powers. I just don't know where I put them."


Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I can't believe what happened here last night. Griffith Park was one of my three most treasured places in L.A., along with my own neighborhood and the Lower Arroyo Seco.

Walking those mountainous trails has been the main thing that's saved me from deep depression after leaving my beloved friends and family in Seattle and starting a tumultuous new life here. Up there, I pondered the days when movie cowboys would ride on the bridle paths, and felt the glow of Hollywood history. I gazed (through smog, but still) at the expanse of L.A. and marveled at the chance to be in nature right in the center of all that. I got stung by a bee while listening on headphones to John Legend's new album, high high above Dante's View. Now all of that is gone. Well, I know it's not gone, but the park will be scarred for years, all (possibly, they don't know yet) because of a carelessly handled cigarette.

Well, not all because. This piece in my newspaper gives pause to consider the conditions that led to the Griffith Park fire. The park has burned before, but this is the works in decades, and it doesn't seem like a coincidence that it happened now.

It's funny, because just two days ago, I was pondering what disaster would befall SoCal, given the horrors that have hit the Midwest and the South, and the disturbing weather patterns giving my loved ones serious power-outage problems last winter in the Northwest and Northeast. We've had heat, but that's about it, until now. But now I see so clearly that our globally-warmed region is really just a pile of tinder. Horrifying.

I guess it's time to get active on the environmentalist front, for real. Going to Live Earth this July is just not enough. At the very least, I hope to roll up my sleeves, put on a surgical mask and get out and help clear some of my favorite L.A. trails, so that Bebe will someday get to find her own Kantian sublime up there in the dusty sun.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Oh Very Young

Lily Allen in today's Pitchfork:

Beyonce: "Irreplaceable

"That's one of my favorite songs. I've been listening to lots of old music."

This is a semantic error, right? She does also say she likes Gerry Rafferty. I'll always think of "Stuck in the Middle With You" as music to cut ears by.....

MR. BLONDE: Now I'm not gonna bullshit you. I don't really care about what you know or don't know. I'm gonna torture you for awhile regardless. Not to get information, but because torturing a cop amuses me. There's nothing you can say,there's nothing you can do.Except pray for death.

He puts a piece of tape over the cop's mouth.

Mr. Blonde walks away from the cop.

MR. BLONDE: Let's see what's on K-BILLY'S"super sounds of the seventies"weekend.
He turns on the radio.

Stealer's Wheel's hit "Stuck in the Middle with You" PLAYS over the speaker.

NOTE: This entire sequence is timed to the music.

Mr. Blonde slowly walks toward the cop.
He opens a large knife.
He grabs a chair, places it in front of the cop and sits in it.
Mr. Blonde just stares into the cop's/our face, holding the knife, singing along with the song.
Then, like a cobra, he LASHES out.

A SLASH across the face.

The cop/camera moves around wildly.

Mr. Blonde just stares into the cop's/our face, singingalong with the seventies hit.
Then he reaches out and CUTS OFF the cop's/our ear.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Wisdom of Tyra

I might not be able to watch "Top Model" this season. The girls are just too damn boring. The plot's already spinning out, with the upfront bitch (Jasleen), the stealth bitch (Renee), the wacky punk rock maybe-a-lesbian (Jael), the Christian (whatever her name was, she's history). I loved "Top Model" for the unique intersection of class, race, and gender issues it offered -- its very subject is femininity, and watching how so many different young women, from ghetto fab to heartland honey, played that out, has been really informative. Not this season, though.

However, I also watch "Top Model" for the Wisdom of Tyra. A while back (after the class-race-gender stuff started getting repetitive) I realized that I would always wait for Tyra's lectures and pep talks. Why? Not to laugh at someone who takes fashion seriously -- they're a dime a dozen on TV these days, and heck, it's just as worthy of serious consideration as rock criticism. No. It's because of this: to hear Tyra Banks expound upon the life of a supermodel is to witness someone creating a philosophical stance in real time. Tyra's not just giving fashion tips; she is building an ontology. In fashion, she sees the human endeavor -- the struggle to transcend one's fate, the tension between one's limits and one's dreams, the demands set upon those who would live in harmony with their chosen community. It's just so deep.

Sometimes her lines are funny, sometimes they're overblown and even kinda dark. She can camp it up, and she's been doing more of that lately (which I don't love). But when she's about to send a girl home, she always has that face, that Tyra stare, that says, this is no laughing matter, ladies. This is capitalism; this is democracy; this is the heroine's quest.

I think Tyra might be the new Ayn Rand.

So said Rand: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

So said Tyra: "Congratulations. You're still in the running to be America's Next Top Model."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Mother-Daughter Plot

So Starbuck "died" on Battlestar Galactica. I'm a bit off watching the show but keep somewhat apprised of the plotline. Here's what seems so obviously notable that somebody's probably posting about it on Slate right now:

Starbuck dies and her death is posited as a sort of reconciliation with her distant, cruel mother, whom she'd rejected in order to survive emotionally. In Grey's Anatomy,"Meredith almost dies but lives via an afterlife-lobby reconciliation with her distant, cruel mother, whom etc etc. So.. you have damaged women reconciling with their distant mothers as the absolute key to life and death.

Starbuck and Meredith represent the young working woman, the ascendant heir of second-wave feminism. This emblematic post-wave don't-say-I'm-a-feminist has run a few gauntlets, but those tests were rarely gender-related (I'm talking about skills-related tests, not the test Starbuck endured regarding her fake child, which deserves its own blog entry). She ha been able to develop her talent without much question of whether or not she's worthy, and their own barriers to success have to do with their own emotional damage.

In Meredith's case, she's a wimp (but mirrored by the preternaturally strong Christina, I LOVE YOU CHRISTINA, who has her own mama issues). In Starbuck's case, she's macha. But both are, above all, accomplished -- their professional triumphs (Meredith succeeding in surgery, Starbuck bombing the frak out of some Cylons) are always the high points of the show, while their emotional "triumphs" remain ambiguous and tentative.... though I fear that McDrippy is going to get down on one knee for Meredith soon, ruining everything.

These narratives make the viewer suspicious of the mother-daughter relationship, responsible for so much pain, while quietly asserting that those same distant or cruel relationships actually made stronger women of the damaged daughters. The Evil Mother is the motivating force. Not only is this prime fairy tale material, it's a neat summation of how many young middle-class women feel about second-wave feminism -- it opened up the doors, but also failed in acknowledging the vulnerabilities that so often still cause women to self-sabotage. It gave, it took, it left our young warrior girls in the lurch.

Rest in peace and a million pieces, Kara Starbuck. I really hope you don't turn out to be a cylon.

Friday, March 02, 2007

This time, I ponder...Pretty Ricky

Here's another LAT piece that I think might have gotten lost in the shuffle. The headline's all wrong, by the way -- the piece is about how R&B popsters are invoking the early 1990s as a way of looking beyond (or before, maybe) their own lascivious moment.