Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Steve Martin brings bluegrass tour back to LA

Steve Martin is coming back to Los Angeles as he continues to tour following his recent bluegrass album, The Crow. I had the chance to see him perform when he came through town in May, playing Club Nokia. I went with a friend who is more of a bluegrass connoisseur than myself, and we were both impressed with Martin and his touring band, the Steep Canyon Rangers.

The show kicked off with an interview segment where columnist/author/humorist Dave Barry spoke with Martin about his career and the album. Martin still has the dry wit that made him famous, and he peppers that throughout his performance.

I knew he'd played banjo for a long time, but you go in and see The Jerk up there and when you start hearing virtuoso musicianship coming from his hands, it can take you aback. There's a sprinkling of comedy in his songs with lyrics, but it's largely serious, quality music that's still joyful.

Read More...

Breaking the bubble

It can be easy as a news junkie, particularly working for a news organization, to get stuck inside a bubble where it seems like everyone cares about the same things you do.

I was reminded of the fact that this isn't actually true when I came across this blog post. Wait, what do you mean not everyone knows about ACORN, Glenn Beck, and the Baucus health care bill?! You mean not everyone is hitting refresh on the New York Times and the Drudge Report homepages constantly? Scandalous! (And I'm thinking that the numbers of people who actually care about these things and haven't just heard about them is much lower.)

Hopefully at KPCC we do what we can to provide you with information that's interesting, important, and relevant to your lives – but please let us know when we need to burst our bubble.

Read More...

'Coming out' coming sooner

The New York Times Magazine has a story in their upcoming issue (already available online) on the increasing trend of gay kids coming out in middle school.

It stood out to me to see this in the same week where the hit Fox television show Glee featured a gay high schooler coming out to his father. Rather than going the traditional route of having either an emotional moment where the father tries to deal with it and ultimately accepts his son, or decides to kick him out of the house, the father simply told the son that he knew, and that he still loved his son. The calm, slightly conflicted, but ultimately reassuring and loving response seems to be a reflection of the emotion of American society as a whole, or at least where the nation is shifting.

It also reminded me of a point that John Edwards made when running for president. He talked about his own conflicted views regarding gay marriage, but said that when he talked with his daughter Cate about it, she told him how, with her generation, it wasn't even an issue, and that the attitude was of course gays should be allowed to marry.

Read More...

'Lord, Save Us From Your Followers'

We talked last week about the harsh tone in our public discourse recently, ranging from Congressman Joe Wilson yelling "You lie!" at the president to Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards. (This connection was noted by Seth and Amy on Saturday Night Live's "Really!?!" segment, which was a lot of fun.)

Well, there's a new documentary looking at this same trend in Christianity called Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, which is sure to not be controversial at all. I had the chance to see an advance screening on Monday and thought it was funny, with some moving scenes as it heads into the second half of the film.

The movie takes its shots at both the conservative and liberal sides of American culture. It follows filmmaker Dan Merchant, traveling the country and putting himself front and center like a calmer, gentler Michael Moore. He crosses the political divide, speaking with public figures like Democratic Senator Al Franken and former Republian Senator Rick Santorum.

Read More...

Cloning made possible by the Internet

Well, musically, at least.

In this modern age we live in, cloning is finally here. No, you can't create your own Mini-Me yet, but it's a lot easier to at least simulate being an identical twin/triplet/quadruplet and so on.

I was hanging out with friends on Saturday night, and my friend Collin asked me if I'd gotten his e-mail about the video with the guy singing all the parts to some Michael Jackson music himself. I told him that I hadn't received his e-mail yet, but that yes, I'd seen that video with the guy singing "Thriller." (I was thinking of the following video.)

However, I later discovered that my friend was referring to another video involving Michael Jackson music and cloning.

This reminded me of this John Williams/Star Wars tribute I'd seen a few months prior:

As equipment gets cheaper and distribution becomes easier, the one-person recording phenomenon has become increasingly huge, and the idea of having an actual group/band increasingly unnecessary. That's not to say that there's not still magic in collaboration that can't necessarily be duplicated on your own, but the loner now has options.

Read More...