Friday, February 15, 2008

Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben

My best Ben Lee story revolves around 2004's Film Fest New Haven. At the festival, a movie starring Lee, "The Rage In Placid Lake," was playing, so the singer/songwriter was in town for a couple Q and As and two shows at The Space in Hamden. I was covering Film Fest, writing daily columns from the events, and one of the event's organizers knew I liked Lee's music, so she thought I'd like to meet him.

I didn't really care about re-meeting Lee, who I'd actually met at a previous CMJ festival, not like he would have remembered that or anything. But somehow we ended up in some back room at the late York Square Cinemas talking about music awkwardly. I didn't want to just leave and be rude, and he was waiting for someone to tell him what to do. About 15 minutes went by and Lee finally said, "Can we just go get a beer?" Of course, Lee knew his way around the city because he dated Claire Danes for many years, a lot of that time included Danes' stay at Yale, so he knew Yorkside Pizza served beer.

Anyway, Lee gets a bad rep for being kind of an ass, for lack of a better word, especially in these parts where you can always find someone willing to share a bad story about Lee and Danes. That's really not true. The two times I've met him, he's been a cool guy. And the second time, I spent about an hour with him just shooting the poo.

I mention all of this because in my experience, most of the time you meet musicians that you like, they disappoint you and it becomes more difficult to like their music. With Lee, I actually started to like his music more. And his recent record, "Ripe," is actually his best in years. But it came out in September, which is when I wrote a good review of the disc.

What I want to talk about today is the video for "American Television," a good pop song that comes alive in this video. Seriously, go here and watch it. If you grew up watching TV in the '80s, like Lee did, you'll really enjoy this.

In other news, Beyonce's dad and I have something in common: We both have used the word "ridiculous" to describe Aretha Franklin's response to the Grammys. Seriously, where does someone like Franklin get off saying stuff like this. Get a grip. You were a great singer; you didn't cure cancer. Other people can be called "queen." Whatever.

If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone notice?

It looks like Bai Ling has something in common with the wonderful Winona Ryder. I wonder if Bai is going to use pills as an excuse.

Last night featured another great episode of "Survivor." Frequent readers of this blog know that for some reason, this is the one and only reality show I can watch, and I love it unconditionally. Certain recent seasons have been labeled poor, yet I still love them.

It seems like there's a controversy brewing over at "American Idol." I've never seen the competition portion of the show, but here's my take on this contestant: Who cares? Seriously, if she got through the auditioning portion, why can't she be on the show?


Anonymous said...

1. Ridiculous is an understatement.

The 5 or 6 lines you devoted (and the couple I'm typing here), are far too many to address the Aretha Franklin thing - though I suspect that's just what her publicist intended. I'm always amazed by the sneer of boredom she seems to have on her face when attending public events - Hey Queenie...if you're as uninterested in being there as the public is about seeing you there, STAY HOME.

Perhaps if she's looking for more exposure, she can let McCain use "Respect" at his rallies, since he seems to be songless lately (Don't even get me started on Huckabee and "More than a Feeling" - does Boston suddenly feel relevant again by complaining? Does anyone really believe that playing a song at a rally denotes candidate support? If I play Aerosmith on the Ipod while I'm at the gym, does that mean Steve Tyler is personally endorsing my fitness regimen?)

2. This just in...hereafter, Queen Latifah will be known as Princess Latifah. Queen-sized beds will be referred to as "sorta big" beds. And Queen Elizabeth will simply be referred to as Liz.

3. Try "Amazing Race." It almost makes reality TV look good. Moderately engaging, cool scenic locales, and no sign of the gnomish Probst. I watched this guy interviewed the other night by Glen Beck (he himself a few aces short of a deck), and - "Earth to Jeff" - you host a game show, you didn't cure cancer. YOU sir, are no Alex Trebek.

4. Loathe the Idol, but bottom line - if it's "amateurs" only, clearly spell out all the criteria before the auditions, and before you put some of the yahoos on the air, make sure they've truthfully answered all the questions. Most places perform a security check on you before they'll hire you, but the producers on the top rated show on TV can't seem to swing that? Oh HOLD ON a minute...if we wait until after they air, then lob this little publicity-seeking scud missile out there.... Oh I get it now! How could I have been so naively clueless?

5. Hot off the AP wires - Donald Fagen and Walter Becker - more widely known as Steely Dan, have announced that they will be changing the lyrics to their popular song, "Hey Nineteen." The lyrics, which formerly went:

"Hey nineteen - that's 'retha Franklin,
They don't remember the queen of soul.."

Will henceforth be sung as:

"Hey nineteen - that's 'retha Franklin,
She walks on water, is always relevant, so bow in her presence, infidel! I said BOW!"

6. Great Grammy column on Friday. Even feverish with malaria, you nailed it.

Pat Ferrucci said...

About seven years ago, a friend and I tried out for "The Amazing Race." We didn't get a call back for an audition. I blame myself for that since our video was the most ridiculous thing I have ever thought of. I don't think Ryan and I can run for president now.

But anyway, I stopped watching "TAR" about three seasons ago. I think it's mostly because they put it on Sundays, and I tend not to watch any television on Sundays. I don't know. I do like the show, though.

Wait, are you saying that Steven Tyler is not personally endorsing your workout routine? I think he is. I once read an interview with Tom Scholtz of Boston fame and he said he only listens to Boston and spends most of his time in the basement working on electronics. I'm truly amazed he even found out that someone was playing his song. If I was him, I'd more upset that Kurt Cobain ripped off "More than a Feeling" and became the face of grunge because of it. Of course, that's just me.

Maybe Tom just hates Chuck Norris ...

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for the ugly brouhaha that erupts when Boston decides that they aren't sure they want the city using their name anymore (since, you know, the tourism board should be sending them checks). If you COULD make this stuff up, well...I guess you'd be a speechwriter for Hillary.

P.S. - Sunday night TV is the only mental buffer I have between me and...Monday (I would opt for the sweet anesthetic that is Sam Adams, but nobody likes a queasy office drone). So, the sporadic seasons of the Race usually tide me over between baseball seasons.

That said, there's no explaining my unnatural excitement about tonight's "Knight Rider" TV movie.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, one other tidbit before I forgt -

I read that the producers of TAR are overrun with applications and audition tapes from all-male teams (who tend to dominate and win when entered). They tend to shy away from stocking their cast rosters with too many such teams unless they offer something "unique and viewable" (whatever that means), or that there's some kind of enherent tension (e.g., brothers, father & son, "life partners", etc).

So, though I have no knowledge of how ridiculous your video may have been (your word, not mine!), I suspect you would have stood a better chance had you auditioned with a female colleague...or your mom...or a talking car (Damn! There goes my Knight Rider fixation again! Sorry. But hey, it'd be a decided plus on the race and all...)