Wendy’s Word

Not your mama’s blog….

Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack, or cassette tape vs. the ipod May 18, 2009

Filed under: Music — wendy @ 6:44 pm

I recently picked up a cassette tape of the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack, and it reminded me what we’re missing by spending too much time with our ipods.  Don’t get me wrong — if the house was burning down, my ipod would be the first thing I’d grab after my kids.  My husband is well aware of the fact that he’d be third.  But with the ipod, we’ve self-selected the music we hear, and I rarely listen to a full soundtrack anymore.  Even with a CD, after listening a few times, I skip to the tracks I like the best.  But skipping tracks on a cassette requires more effort so I tend to listen to the whole tape.  This has proved fun with the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack.

Grosse Pointe Blank starts and ends with Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes.  The first, which is the orginal, is simple — guitar and drums, simple lyrics, short and fast.  The last track is called Blister 2000, and is slow, more complex, and has what I like to call the “horns gone wrong” interlude which is a wonderful cacophony of off-key saxophones that almost sound like kazoos.  The soundtrack includes a couple Clash songs, one by the English Beat and one by the Jam which I originally found odd but have come to like.  Then there’s Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen.  I feel uncool extolling such a mainstream song, but I love the combination of David Bowie’s calm and Freddie Mercury’s tendencies toward the operatic.

As a lover of cover songs, I would be neglectful if I didn’t mention the Guns N’ Roses cover of Live and Let Die, which is one of my favorite tracks on the tape.  I also love Pressure Drop by the Specials, which led me to listen to more of the Specials.  Great Ska band!  I also love the track El Matador by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.  Finally, there’s a remix of Pete Townshend’s Let My Love Open the Door.  At first, I was disappointed because it’s slow.  I love the pep and the harmonies of the original.  But I’ve come to like this more atmospheric version. 

I listened to this tape almost constantly in the car (I had to fill the void left by the cancellation of NPR’s Day to Day) until my daughter threatened to seize it.  Now I just have to see the movie……


Playing for Change, one more time May 15, 2009

Filed under: Music — wendy @ 10:38 pm

Ok, I think this will be the last posting about Playing for Change, but the website is now updated and you can see many of the episodes that make up the documentary.  I’ve already raved about them in two other postings, so I’ll spare you this time and just link you to them.  The two that I’m including are War, No More Trouble, which features Bono, and One Love.  Both are fantastic, and I urge you to visit the Playing for Change website to see all the episodes.


Night of the Gun, by David Carr

Filed under: Books — wendy @ 9:18 pm

Eyewitness accounts of crimes are notoriously incorrect, studies show, even though it would seem to be otherwise.  This is exacerbated when the eyewitness is drunk and high on cocaine.  David Carr wanted to write a memoir about his journey from cocaine addict and alcoholic (and working journalist) to sober New York Times reporter, but his memory was impaired.  He decided to apply his journalistic skills to the project, interviewing people from his past (audio and videotaping the interviews to make sure he got it right) and reviewing records of arrests, medical history, and accounts of his stays in rehab facilities.  The results became his memoir, and Carr was surprised that his interview subjects’ recollections often did not jibe with his own and that his life was much darker than he remembered.

Carr’s methodology makes the book interesting, but Carr’s dark personality make the book less compelling than other similar stories.  Augusten Burroughs’ memoir of recovering from alcoholism, Dry, takes us into the dark world of addiction and recovery, but Burroughs is funny and self-effacing, so the book is entertaining and sympathetic.  Also, Burroughs had a rough childhood, so it’s no surprise that he turned to alcohol.  Similarly, James Elroy’s memoir, My Dark Places, describes his drug abuse as a young man, but this is a small portion of a memoir about his mother’s murder and how this unsolved murder led to his interest in the Black Dahlia murder.  Wired, Bob Woodward’s biography of John Belushi, shares with Night of the Gun the detailed description of the addicts life and the drug subculture, to the point that the reader feels a part of this world.  But Wired is about John Belushi so we’re interested in reading about him and how he felt that drugs were necessary to help him achieve his comic spontaneity, not just about the drug world in general.

Carr did not have a difficult childhood that led him to take refuge in drugs, although several of his family members also had addiction problems.  But many addicts are not compensating for childhood difficulties — I don’t need a sob story to make me have sympathy for the author.  Carr’s nastiness as an addict made me wonder why I was reading the book.  Specifically, he hit women and not just on one or two occasions.  Does the paranoia of cocaine addiction lead to violent behavior that would not occur otherwise?

Carr redeems himself by obtaining custody of his twin daughters and raising them well, and mostly sober.  He also rose through the ranks of journalism, running small papers, writing for new enterprises, and eventually becoming a New York Times columnist.  Although Carr’s behavior while drug impaired was often abominable, he was almost always working hard and maintained his integrity as a journalist.

Carr’s device of applying journalism to his own life is a little gimmicky, but it was interesting seeing his reaction to the accounts his interview subjects give him, which differ from his own recollections.  A picture of himself emerges, much darker than he thinks of himself.  Thankfully, that Carr does not much resemble the man who wrote the book.