Not the Great American Rock and Roll Band

Ladies and gentlemen, Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers. Just because it’s great, because it’s Wednesday, because Johnny’s still dead, because Max’s is a faint memory, and because there’s a lightning storm sweeping across Manhattan. And it’s not the Grateful Dead. Comment away.

Half-Way to a Year: A Quick Editor’s Note

Six months ago, it was cold. So I downloaded WordPress and started this blog. And stayed inside. Time well-spent, I’d say – though it was just the smallest spark that provided a hint of hint of fuel for all the cultural combustion that has come this way since. I just keep the lights on here …

Ward Cleaver’s Club: the Great TV Dads

Tomorrow, I shall take my breakfast under the covers – a twice-yearly occurrence around case Watson (birthday, too!) – and I shall enjoy the mild but heartfelt tribute to my fatherhood. Later, I’ll give my old man a card and a gift, and char a few burgers in his honor. And I will feel well-satisfied …

Richard Thompson’s Sweet Warrior: Battles Everywhere

The earnest thump-thump-thump of the bass drum on Dad’s Gonna Kill Me – the headline-grabbing anti-war single from Richard Thompson’s new Sweet Warrior album – creates a rhythm that doesn’t exactly match that of Baghdad, the song’s setting and the “‘Dad” of its title. The backing rhythm there, of course, is not so regular as …

Steve Gilliard, 1966-2007

One of the great voices of the shared Internet is gone: blogger Steve Gilliard (who blogged here at newcritics before his illness) died today at age 41. I didn’t know Steve very well personally, but he was a brother in the virtual sense. His voice was entirely his – a true iconoclast with a strong, …

Watching for Keira – Almost Nightly

A pirate walked up to me in the mall this holiday weekend as I was loitering outside of Anthropologie, waiting with only moderatre patience for The Artist. “Hey big man, I’ve got Pirates and Shrek 3 on DVD. Twenty bucks.” I shooed him away with a suave “belay me buck-o, and be about yer business.” …

What Camus Sees: The Plague Within

There is a scene in The Plague, the relentessly grim post-war novel by existential icon Albert Camus, that still shocks: the hopeless, tortured death struggle of a beloved child – made worse by his father’s plea to the protagonist Dr. Rieux to “save my boy.” It’s a scene (and I say “scene” because I find …

Defending Edward Hopper

It’s not that Holland Cotter is routinely deranged; the Times art critics wrote a wonderful piece debunking the common myths surrounding Islamic art a while back, and maintains a healthy distrust of the invesstment-fueled “art market” as a driver of real taste and value. No, Cotter is solid. He did, however, become conspicuously unhinged and …