ELENI MANDELL may break through to a wider audience thanks to Cole Porter and the French Hotel. My review of one of her concerts is right here on the site. You can stream stuff from her last album, Afternoon (which I recommend), at her own website.
LIVE 8 REUNITES PINK FLOYD: Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour are putting aside their differences for the gig. No Syd Barrett, natch. ALSO: TalkLeft points you to a MP3 of Sir Bob Geldof's conference call with Joe Trippi and prominent bloggers mentioned in this space previously.
MEET THE NEW BOSS: Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein suggests in an Onion A.V. Club interview that classic rock is the new punk rock.
LEONARD COHEN is being sued by a Colorado investment company for civil conspiracy and extortion.
BILLIE HOLLIDAY: Robert Christgau essays "The First Lady of Song" for The Nation magazine.
ARE WE NOT MEN? In a new interview, Devo's Jerry Casale explains how devolution sprung from the Kent State shooting. I had no idea he was that old.
THE REDWALLS: In advance of their major-label debut, Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot calls them "part of the strongest wave of Chicago pop and rock bands to surface in a decade." Of the various comparisons Kot makes, I'm surprised he didn't also mention CCR, as that was the name (along with late-period Beatles) that leapt to mind when I heard their last disc.
INDIE BANDS are being marketed like Tupperware, according to Newsweek.
TERI HATCHER: They're real and they're spectacular, but she is considering not keeping 'em real.
LOS ALAMOS WHISTLEBLOWER beaten outside a Santa Fe bar, but Santa Fe police now believe he could have been attacked for allegedly striking a pedestrian in the bar's parking lot.
HIT-AND-RUN VICTIM run over by the police car responding to the hit-and-run report.
IRAQ: Two Washington Post reporters spent three days with a unit including Iraqis drawn from a disenchanted Sunni Arab minority, being rebuilt after the company commander's death prompted all but 30 of the company's 250 soldiers to quit. Not surprisingly, the reporters paint a highly negative picture of the effort to build up Iraqi security forces. Author Michael Yon also has a gripping read of operations in Mosul that suggests a more positive view. So does the pseudonymous "Major E," writing PowerLine from Baghdad. Which portrait proves more accurate of the overall effort remains to be seen, but certainly bears watching. There's more analysis and discussion at The Belgravia Dispatch.
IRAQ II: Strategy Page has a nifty blurb on helmet-mounted vidcams (along with iPod-like storage drives) becoming useful as a military intelligence tool. The number of Iraqis getting married is surging, but so-called experts seem to have a different explanation than those actually getting married.
TOM-KAT UPDATE: Katie Holmes appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman; Katie was clueless, Dave was merciless. Cruise continues to bash psychiatry and prescription drugs, but the normally fluffy Entertainment Weekly can't help but insert editor's notes contradicting some of his statements. A story about Cruise auditioning other starlets before Katie Holmes disappears from the E! website faster than you can say, "Hi, this is Tom Cruise's lawyer..."
BRADGELINA UPDATE: Mr. & Mrs. Smith tops the weekend box office, raking in 51 million bucks. I went to see it solely for the purpose on reporting back on it and not at all to gawk at Angelina Jolie for two hours. I share Roger Ebert's view (and that of Semisonic) that it's all about chemistry: "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have it, or I think they have it, in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and because they do, the movie works. If they did not, there'd be nothing to work with." I think Roger is a little charitable with the rating, also.
ARE SECRETS OF THE STARS to be revealed on the Pellicano tapes? An appeals court ruling affirmng the conviction of celebrity sleuth Anthony Pellicano on charges that he had unregistered firearms, grenades and enough plastic explosives to bring down an airliner in a safe in his office also ruled that prosecutors can comb through the equivalent of two billion pages of wiretap transcripts found in the office. Pellicano's client list included Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson, Kevin Costner, Farrah Fawcett and some of Hollywood's biggest entertainment lawyers.
RUSSELL CROWE was not given preferential treatment during the investigation of his alleged assault of a hotel employee, according to a NYPD detective. Everyone gets a four-motorcycle police escort to the station.
CATS set a house ablaze in Kobe, Japan by using the fax machine as a litter box. Cat ownership can make men less attractive and women more desirable. And there's a movie of a cat losing a fight with a ceiling fan.
DEMOCRACY IN SYRIA? The Baath Party eases the state of emergency that has been in force for over 40 years, will allow some new political parties to be formed and seems to move towards a free market economy. However, these measures, which come at a time of huge international pressure on Syria, were not the great leap forward promised by President Bashar al-Assad and demanded by reformers. Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official told The New York Times and Reuters that the U.S. has received "credible information" that Syrian operatives in Lebanon plan to try to assassinate senior Lebanese political leaders and that Syrian military intelligence forces are returning to Lebanon to create "an environment of intimidation."
DEMOCRACY AT MICROSOFT? There's some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that Microsoft's new Chinese internet portal has banned the words "democracy" and "freedom" from parts of its website in an apparent effort to avoid offending Beijing's political censors. The good news is that, ironically enough, the linked article is posted on Microsoft's site in the U.S.
LIZ PHAIR is going unplugged this summer. It's kinda hard to think of Liz unplugged, based on her body of work.
THE DOUBLE DOOR, the Chicago venue where Rob Gordon DJed in High Fidelity, where I have seen acts like the Soft Boys, Van Hunt and Eleventh Dream Day, was in danger of closing in a landlord-tenant dispute (shades of CBGBs). Fortunately, the one-time speakeasy will remain a Wicker Park fixture for the foreseeable future.
SAD SONGS: In the Guardian, Tom Reynolds, author of I Hate Myself and Want to Die, compiles a 25 miserable tracks. But the commenters at Althouse do better, for the most part.
BOB DYLAN'S NEVER-ENDING TOUR: Prof. Althouse also has some observations and questions for the latter-day Bobby Z based on a piece in The New York Times on Sunday (but online Saturday).
JIMI HENDRIX'S boyhood home is saved from the wrecking ball.
BONNAROO: The Chattanooga Times Free Press blogged the festival. Kings of Leon and Iron & Wine seem to draw raves; Dave Matthews, not so much.
CONDOLEEZA RICE: The Secretay of State played a rare and unpublicized piano gig for the improbably named Charity Sunshine, a 21-year-old soprano who was diagnosed with often-fatal pulmonary hypertension a little over a year ago. Sunshine is a granddaughter of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), and his wife Annette, who Rice has known for years.
YOUR MOMENT OF SITH: You may think you know what Darth Vader looks like under that mask, but you probably haven't seen this photo. George Lucas gets the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute at a black-tie dinner attended by a who's who of Hollywood, including the stars of the original "Star Wars" films. Carrie Fisher called Lucas the man "who ruined my life." In accepting the award, Lucas joked that he started out not being able to write a word, but became "the king of wooden dialogue." At the official website, a father is blogging the reaction of his seven year-old son, who is familiar with Eps. I-III, to seeing the original Star Wars as the fourth in the series. And you may want to check out Passed Out Wookies.
THE DUTCH-MUSLIM CULTURE WAR: An article by Deborah Scroggins for The Nation on Somali-born Dutch legislator Ayaan Hirsi Ali seems awfully confused. Scroggins writes:
"Seven months ago, Hirsi Ali's implacable campaign against what she views as Islam's oppression of women prompted a Muslim fanatic to ritually slaughter Theo van Gogh, her Dutch collaborator on the film Submission. The murderer used his knife to affix a five-page letter to the corpse promising the same treatment for Hirsi Ali and another Dutch politician who has criticized Islam."
First, there is the implication that Hirsi Ali should bear some of the blame for the van Gogh murder. Second, there is the phrase "what she views as Islam's oppression of women..." Back in the 1960s, there were people who suggested that the murder of three civil rights workers by Klan members was really the fault of Martin Luther King, Jr., or the ACLU, too. Apparently, the Old South's big mistake was not inventing multculturalism (though arguably they tried). Would Ms. Scroggins blame Hirisi Ali for the Pakistani judiciary that frees 12 gang rapists? How about the farmer who shoots his daughters after one did not immediately serve him a glass of water when he returned from working in the fields? Or the Saudi Arabian couple accused of turning a young Indonesian woman into a virtual slave? The hundreds of Iranian women protesting their status? Or the way women were treated in Afghanistan under the Taliban? However, to Ms. Scroggins' credit, she does report that Dutch feminists are backing Hirisi Ali.
BAD INTELLIGENCE: Having recently linked to an article claiming that out intell services missed major military developments in China, it's only fair that I note that former intell analysts have responses posted at the PowerLine blog.
NOT THAT MILE-HIGH CLUB: 'Netrepreneur Jason Calacanis videoblogs from 30,000 feet.
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY characters get their own promo websites.
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: The Strong Museum in Rochester, NY opened an exhibit dedicated to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But should they really have invited Mr. McFeely to greet the kids for what is billed as a "Hands On" exhibit?
AFGHANISTAN: The former leader of Iran's Revolutionary Guards says the U.S. has not given Iran enough credit for helping overthrow the Taliban. GI there sometimes joke that Afghanistan is the forgotten war, despite (or maybe because of) progress against insurgents and in training the Afghan Army. If the military wants more media coverage of Afghanistan, they are going to have to start torturing more detainees.
HEAD START: A new study of the program's impact is spun all sorts of ways.
NANOTECH: Hewlett-Packard claims its researchers have created a new way to design future nano-electronic circuits using coding theory.
LAPTOP COMPUTERS MORE POPULAR THAN DESKTOPS, outselling them for the first time in a calendar month in the U.S. In a related story, lap dances are now more popular thann table dances.
HOWARD DEAN gets a mixed review from Howard Fineman in Newsweek. On fundraising, he quotes DNC member Elaine Kamarck as saying, "For people who really look hard at the numbers, he's wowing people." Well, looking at the numbers, the RNC held a fundraising edge of 17.2 million dollars in 2003; now, the RNC is ahead by 17.6 million dollars. But maybe if I looked really hard, I'd be wowed. On organization, Fineman talks about Dean sending "assessment teams" to investigate states with weak organization; I would have to give him an "Incomplete" for this until we see the results. And organization may be more important than the fundraising for a DNC chair, as many candidates can raise funds, but hardly any are tasked with party-building.
CINDY MORGAN -- probably too-well known as Caddyshack's Lacey Underall -- is interviewed by Retrocrush. A must-read if you're enjoy skinny-skiing and going to bullfights on acid. Or Tron.
STUCK ON LODI, AGAIN: In the midst of a probe of alleged Al Qaeda cell in Lodi, the Oakland Tribune runs an article to assure readers that mosques are not strange places to be feared. That may often be the case. However, it doesn't help when one of the primary sources quoted is Hatem Bazian, a lecturer at UC Berkeley who has called for a Palestinian-style intifada by Muslims in America. Given the reliance on Bazian, should readers be concerned that the author of the Tribune article, Sajid Farooq, was the organizer of a muslim rally at Berkeley in 2003?
JOURNO TARGETED BY U.S. MILITARY? A Spanish judge wants to question three American soldiers as suspects in the death of a Spanish cameraman who was killed when a U.S. tank fired on a hotel housing foreign journalists during the 2003 assault on Baghdad. "It would be a very, very cold day in hell before that would ever happen," said a State Department official. The Pentagon has exonerated the U.S. soldiers from any blame, which is corroborated by Boston Herald reporter Jules Crittenden.
TORTURE BY THE U.S.: The New York Times Magazine on Sunday has a lengthy piece by the paper's former executive editor, Joseph Lelyveld. It's a serious piece of work, but what does it say about the NYT that it is illustrated with photographs by Andres Serrano? After all, this is the photographer who produced an infamous photograph that has again been raised by some in the context of the debate over Quran mishandling at the detainee camp at Gitmo. Imho, the topic of torture is already inflammatory enough without gratuitously inserting Andres Serrano into the middle of it.
TORTURE II: Time magazine will probably make a splash with the story of the interrogation of Mohammed al Qahtani, who is widely believed to be the so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker. Special interrogation techniques were approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for use on a select few detainees like al-Qahtani, who was forced to hear Christina Aguilera music and watch a puppet show. No, really.
THE DOWNING STREET MEMO: Michael Kinsley has about the same opinion of it as I did, but adds: "Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, as an encouraging sign of the left's revival. Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them. It takes a promotional infrastructure and the discipline to settle on a story line, disseminate it and stick to it."
SEAN PENN is on assignment in Tehran for the San Francisco Chronicle ahead of presidential elections on June 17th. The Iranians confiscated his video camera temporarily.
PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN THE MEDIA hits an all-time low in the latest Gallup Poll. The military topped the poll with a 74 percent confidence rating.
MONSIEUR MOM: In a new survey, nearly 40 percent of French men said that they would like to become pregnant, science permitting.
SMART AND DUMB STATES are ranked by the Morgan Quitno Press, which appears to be the work of a former Bob Dole staffer. The list seems suspect to me, as the rankings are based in part on per-pupil expenditures, average class size and pupil-teacher ratios, which do not by themselves make a state dumb or smart. Indeed, I would bet that many states with higher per-pupil expenditures have lower student reading and math proficiency and graduation rates.
VIOLENT CROWS BLOODY A BRITISH JOGGER in Battersea Park. Joanna Leonard, an interior designer, saw the birds - which she thought were ravens - in the same place an hour after the attack: "I thought they were very nasty, sinister things."she said. "Two of them focused in on me as I walked past. I couldn't help thinking of that Hitchcock film."
WHEN PIGEONS attack!
THE UNDERWEAR GANG: Thai thieves prove to be slippery and elusive.
VETERAN'S CORPSE STOLEN FROM THE MORGUE for an alleged insurance scam, then dumped in the trash.
WOMAN'S ASHES MISSING and replaced with a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips.
GOODNESS! GRACIOUS! Great balls of snot explain an ocean mystery.