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30th MTV Anniversary/Musicians Turned Actors

Posted: August 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

hallandoatesmtv

Hello all.

I just thought I’d direct you to a few posts I did for the always great Houston Press for the Rocks Off blog. Most of them have to do with the 30th Anniversary of MTV earlier this month.

Hope you enjoy.

Eight Actors Turned Musicians, Best To Worst

Top 10 Most Underrated Music Video Artists

MTV’s Early VJs: Where Are They Now?”

MTV’s Top 5 WTF Moments


Pop Up Video Returns, Pop-Culture Nerds Rejoice Gleefully

Posted: May 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

I was born in 1987. I am an infant in pop-culture years. But I was able to learn so much and delve deep into so many things that normal people don’t care about, thankfully, because of a show called Pop-Up Video.

So it is with great pleasure that I see that The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Pop-Up Video is back with 60 new episodes. I already watch the reruns on VH1 Classic whenever they air, and I’ve watched countless videos online (though they’ve taken down a few over the years).

Before you could learn about a critical darling’s first record on Wikipedia in seconds, or listen to some talking head comedian pontificate about the finer points of Bananarama (there are many), Pop-Up Video existed. The 1990s were the first decade in which “retro”, something that has always run on an undercurrent of pop-culture, came into the forefront.

In the 90s, anything was fair game. I remember, flower power 60s style, 70s film and TV homages (though the 80s was not adored yet. I’ve found a 10-year lap-time). This was reflected in the new music, film, and television. Partly, this was a reflection of the creators of the content, but why were they the first to re-appropriate old as new to a major audience?

Despite my age, I was hooked. And yet, there was a certain disconnect between generations. I remember watching The Simpsons or The Critic or The State and hearing many references that almost blew by me. However, all of that would change in 1996.

Pop-Up was an innovator. In a time where people would watch and appreciate music videos, there were several shows that tried different things with them. Beavis and Butthead, Say What (and its spawn Say What Karaoke) and countless others. But this was different. Its aim, besides its unbelievable snark, was to inform and curate music videos and pop-culture to a mass that didn’t quite understand it. In essence: the nerds were running the show.

This format for information programming got so huge, it transcended music. The format appeared in such shows and films as Newsradio, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Cake Boss, Kate Plus 8, The Simpsons, Music and Lyrics, and Over The Hedge.

I truly feel that a show like Pop-Up Video, changed the format for VH1, and thus, changed the pop-culture landscape. If a show like it doesn’t exist, does VH1 option for the I Love The… series? Does a show like Best Week Ever exist? Nostalgia doesn’t beget micro-nostaglia. Dominoes, people. Dogs and Cats living together.

Certainly it won’t innovate anymore. We’ve reached a pop-culture critical mass. We’ve reached levels of meta-ness and sub-meta-ness, that something like Pop-Up Video’s work is done. But at least, it is a nod to those who watched and understood it in its original run, and maybe it can receive the respect it truly garners.


Happy Endings – “Pilot” and “The Quicksand Girlfriend”

Posted: April 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Have you ever started dating someone and they make all the wrong moves? On paper, they seem unstoppable, and there are subtle ques of chemistry that shine through, but they are only followed with awkward misstep after misstep that you want to walk out of a restaurant immediately? But you want to stick with it, just for maybe one more try?

Happy Endings follows an all too familiar formula of six affluent 30 year old friends an a large metropolitan city. This time it’s Chicago. The twist is the link between the group was broken as Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) leaves Dave (Zachary Knighton) at the alter, and they try to manage to keep everyone together amidst the break up.

It was created by David Caspe and executive produced by veterans Anthony Russo & Joe Russo, most known for directing a number of Arrested Development episodes, but it plays more like a less surreal Scrubs or less absurd 30 Rock.

But allow me to put a stop to this ride very quickly: this show is nowhere near as good as any of these shows, but it has great potential.

Its biggest strength is all of the players in the show are actually funny, so they can create in a scene. No one is simply tagging along. SNL vet Casey Wilson dominates scenes as Penny, brash, fun and perennially single lady and Damon Wayans, Jr, (yes relation) is actually understated, which you would never expect from a Wayans, in his role as smarmy best friend Brad.

However, here is where the problems roll in. As good as everyone is on the show, much of what is written for them is so flat. The scenarios and dialogue present thus far is almost alien, in that, it’s what people think “normal people” are like. Characters should be complex and I feel like they tried to accomplish that only by giving these people lazy juxtapositions.

Max, an openly gay character on the show played by Adam Pally, is just a regular bro-type. Which is would be perfectly fine and even welcomed in a singular representation of such characters on Network TV. But at the same time, his bro-ness will take a backseat to his irreverent flamboyance. To balance this, they feebly introduce a friend of his (found in a gay softball league) who is off-the-wall flamboyant to his disdain.

Also, super Type-A best friend Jane (Eliza Coupe) is very one-dimensional, but Coupe hasn’t given up on her character and does wonders within her balance, this gives me hope that she can grow.

With such a scattershot of feelings gained from the first two episodes, I’ve decided not to give up on the show. The format is at least tried and true. Cutaways for jokes is a bit overdone, but I still think it can work. It is very rare that in these kinds of shows that you care about characters fairly early, and I attribute that only to the work of the comedians on the show.

So we had a rough start, but I’ve decided to go on a few more dates, and see if Happy Endings is true to its name.

Watch “Pilot” and “The Quicksand Girlfriend” on Hulu


We Want The Airwaves

Posted: April 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Would they still want them?

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of this phrase. We Want The Airwaves. As a song title, it’s fairly innocuous. A punk band wanting to cease control, flipping the status quo and challenging the culture. Though the Ramones are the most palatable punk band one can think of. Sped-up Doo Wop can do that for you. Even with titles like “The KKK Took My Baby Away.”

The Ramones were on Sire Records. They weren’t all over the radio dial, people were Yacht Rocking at the time, but their records were heard. If anything wanted the airwaves, it was pirate radio from underground hip-hop, dance, and perhaps no-wave.

But we we return to the simple phrase. We Want The Airwaves. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the mantra of the underground. It’s an idea of freedom, to have your message broadcast for all the world to hear. And to do it with great conviction and force.

Pop-Culture writer TourĂ© has the idea that we are more singularly tuned than ever. There is no collective Pop-Culture consciousness anymore. Something like LCD Soundsystem or the Royal Wedding or Big Love can come and go, and a large amount of people won’t get a whiff of it. There isn’t a monoculture anymore according to him, just pods that operate somewhat linked to each other. There aren’t airwaves to cease.

I’m not certain that’s entirely true, but he is correct that the monoculture is severely weakened and on life support. It’s very rare that there are so-called “water cooler” moments in the modern pop-culture spectrum. Save for the occasional viral video or maybe in sports, but that is a far cry from how things were not but 10 years ago.

It makes me curious as to what the Ramones in 1981 would do if they were transported 30 years later. Would they want the airwaves, or would they be perfectly satisfied within their niche? It’s a funny struggle. I mean they had a movie, two movies, for god’s sake. They straddled a fun line of mainstream and counter-culture, somewhat telling of what would come.

Yes, the Ramones were alts of their day. Older man who wears the Ramones seal t-shirt: you’re fine (As if you need my approval. Oi!). But their iconography was a part of something bigger. Everyone recognizes the seal and what it represents. I’m not certain that would be a priority for them if they emerged in the present day. There’s a connectedness felt now via the information age that you don’t require the whole spectrum to feel listened to.

The Ramones were seemingly Too Tough To Die, but it seems to me that they would rather niche, than fight.


Hipstera Non Grata

Posted: September 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Today as I rode the train into the Loop, I noticed several riders reading the Red Eye. A common occurrence as it is the freebee paper available at every station. But today in particular, the rather peculiar cover jumped out at me.

Hipster Safari? Whatever? Far be it from me to defend a rather indefensible subset, but this was a bit much. Inside resided charts and blips on tired fauxhemian stereotypes.

My initial thought was perhaps I’m being too hard on the Red Eye, it’s a daily alt-paper. But let’s go inside.

Celebrity Hipsters according to Red Eye:
James Franco:
While we can all agree he’s so good, I’m just a bit uncomfortable labeling someone who’s talented and lives with a bit of humor such a shallow term.

Robert Pattinson:
Really? I somehow doubt anyone is taking their vintage cues from R. Patz. I also doubt he’s swilling down Old Style or Lone Star.

Joaquin Phoenix:
I think they are confusing the homeless beard with being a hipster. Here is their explaination:

He’s had a beard and a fake documentary, and quitting your job to be a rapper is pretty hipster, indeed.

Fair enough, Red Eye. But there aren’t many Asher Roth’s out there.

As I completed the article (over someone’s shoulder obviously) I was more confused by the intent than the oddball cover with conflicting fashion philosophies. Hipster isn’t exactly a term of endearment among the population, but it is still used at proliferated through jokes and wrongly attributed irony.

Maybe we should all just understand each other a little more and not judge by the gears on our fixie bikes, but the content of our character.


Our End

Posted: September 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

The internet is dead, Obviously. It is a bloated, mean, and ugly place, virtually buckling its last belt hoop, not wanting to make the trip to the local Macy’s Husky department to face its pudgy face in the fitting room. And that’s fine. 90% of people are aware of that. The other 10% are trying to call people on their Jitterbugs.

As a scribe by trade, I figured I could hide from this no longer. I’m asking the internet to suck in its stomach and add one more inch to find weird PSA’s from the 1980s, music from mixtapes I gave to girls in my youth, sports teams I hate, unhealthy food I like and other general erotica. Probably not the last one, but let’s not count anything out.

In any event, if you do find this amusing, I thank you for your patronage and I hope you won’t find it to be a complete waste of your time.

I’m sure you’re all lovely and fit.
-Michael Depland