Walking through the contemporary art wing of the Denver Art Museum a few weekends ago and newly inspired after ogling the sculptures and artifacts found in King Tut’s tomb, I observed several interesting bits of conversation about what constitutes art between my husband and a couple friends. (Although I love debating this topic, I decided to hang back and watch what happened.)
As we meander by a few paintings, one of our friends asks coyly, “How long do you think they take to paint these?” Another replies, sarcastically acting like the artist in question, “Oh, about a day.” We all laugh, standing in front of a couple paintings that may or may not have been painted in five minutes.
On the design floor, one friend takes a photo of an exhibit of different chairs, then one of the chairs you can sit on while viewing the exhibit. He asks what the difference between them really is. A minute later, dissatisfied, he concludes that “anything is art here.”
The long-argued debate "What is art?" no longer seems a dominant question in the art community (which includes the educated, gallery-going public); these individuals more or less have learned to appreciate even the art they don’t particularly like or wouldn’t hang in their living room.
But those outside the art world or new to art are still figuring it out. A fellow Indy writer pointed out that the art-going public learned acceptance and understanding from abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock. While I agree, that was a generation ago. My friends — in the under-30-and-clueless-about-art demographic — couldn’t name a "contemporary" artist other than Andy Warhol.
While there's this common ideology in the art world that accepts any creative endeavor as “art,” there’s a fringe — which I'd venture to guess is bigger than we think — that seems to not get it. My husband, for example, seems stuck on this question. The topic comes up after nearly every gallery opening we attend.
While he’s interested in figuring out the idea behind certain pieces of artwork, he still doesn’t agree that everything we see in galleries and museums should be called “art.” (Maybe crafts, or a wood shop project, he’ll say.) Perhaps he’s just not opening up to the idea that in art, sometimes meaning trumps beauty. Or perhaps his idea of the “anything can be art” ideology being a thinly-veiled cop-out has a bit of truth to it.
Regardless, the dialogue seems to point to a simultaneous confusion and curiosity about art than a condemnation of contemporary artwork. It seems to me that this is a personal debate that every art-lover must reconcile. Maybe those still having the "What is art?" talk are just catching up, so to speak, on the conversation? Almost like a rite of passage, something everyone has to discover for themselves?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Fascinating study out today on religious knowledge from the Pew Forum.
The Pew Forum on Religious Religion and Public Life released a survey on religious knowledge today. Atheists and Agnostics scored higher on it than anyone else, closely followed by Jews and Mormons, all Christians, Protestants and Catholics, were far behind.
That's overall, but when you get into specific religions it does show a startling lack of basic knowledge by practitioners. From the report:
More than four-in-10 Catholics in the United States (45 percent) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. About half of Protestants (53 percent) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity. Roughly four-in-10 Jews (43 percent) do not recognize that Maimonides, one of the most venerated rabbis in history, was Jewish.
The study also showed that Americans have a fairly poor understanding of religions other than their own. Only about half of the people surveyed know that Martin Luther inspired the Reformation, the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and Joseph Smith was a Mormon.
Why are Atheists and Agnostics better informed? The Los Angeles Times quotes one of the researchers who has a theory:
American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.
"These are people who thought a lot about religion," he said. "They're not indifferent. They care about it."
Also interesting is that Black Protestants and Latino Catholics scored at the bottom of the survey.
Denver's got two things in spades: medical marijuana, and (you guessed it) comedic talent. Thus, Denver's Top Comic was born. The contest benefits the Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of the Rockies (MMAPR).
"One of our main goals at MMAPR is to ensure that our members are happy and comfortable in their lives," says founder Vincent Palazzotto in a news release. "We thought it was time to spread that joy with a few laughs for the community."
Look for local comics battling their humorous little hearts out at Herman's Hideaway once a month, over the next four months: Sept. 30, Oct. 28, Nov. 18 and Dec. 30. Showtimes for all are 8 p.m.; tickets are $3 pre-sale, $5 otherwise.
Bad news for those who bought tickets to Thursday night's Richard Lewis performance at Stargazers: It ain't happenin'.
From his local promoter, Michelle Marx:
The Richard Lewis date at Stargazers Theater this Wed. has been canceled due to medical reasons. When Richard arrived in Colorado Springs he was already suffering with a back condition yet slugged through his pr. Today it got the best of him and his doctor has insisted he get immediate bed rest for several days minimum or the rest of his tour would be jeopardized. His publicist and long time friend is also the dates promoter and couldn't allow that to happen. Mr. Lewis hopes to reschedule in the near future stating that Colorado Springs is one of the most beautiful cities I have been to and I am so sorry I'm not able to perform at my best for this cool town and great venue. So terribly sorry about this, but even my bad posture couldn't hold me up for this one."
Stargazers Theater will be fully refunding any ticket purchases.
Mikey Weinstein, perennial critic of the Air Force Academy's religious climate, is again on the offensive, this time demanding that Defense Secretary Robert Gates launch an investigation.
To be brief, he wants the 2009-10 academy climate survey released to the public and he wants the Pentagon to investigate both Cadets for Christ and the academy's alleged establishment of fundamentalist Christianity among cadets and staff.
For its part, the academy has previously stated in a press release that it "remains committed to protecting an individual’s right to practice any religion they choose, or no religion, provided their practices do not violate policy or law or impede mission accomplishment. The Academy’s policy is consistent with the MRFF view that "religious faith is a constitutionally guaranteed freedom that must never be compromised."
Weinstein established the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in 2005 after allegations of bias toward evangelical Christianity at the academy triggered an Air Force review of the matter.
September 28, 2010
Hon. Dr. Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
For the following profoundly shocking reasons explained infra, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and its signatory allies as reflected below, make the trio of immediate demands stated at the end of this letter upon you and the Department of Defense.
There now exists, according to a United States Air Force Academy cadet who recently wrote to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF; www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org), an "underground" group of over one hundred Academy cadets who, in order to maintain good standing among their USAF Academy peers and superiors, are actually pretending to be fundamentalist Christians. They leave Bibles, Christian literature, and Christian music CDs lying around their rooms; they attend fundamentalist Christian Bible studies; they feign devoutness at the Academy's weekly "Special Programs in Religious Education" (SPIRE) programs. They do whatever they have to do to play the role of the "right kind" of Christian cadets, in constant fear of being "outed."
Who makes up this group of over a hundred cadets who feel that they must pretend to be such devoted fundamentalist Christians? Mostly Christians — both Protestant and Catholic — who aren't "Christian enough" or "the right kind of Christians" for the Air Force Academy. The cadet who wrote to MRFF about this day-in and day-out lie that these cadets must live is a Protestant who, like many Protestants, does not subscribe to the Academy's preferred brand of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. Our long-time ally, California Council of Churches IMPACT, is equally outraged by the presumption that their denominational partners, 6.5 million strong, are not "the right kind" of Christian. Mainline Protestantism is a foundation of American faith traditions. Indeed, America’s diversity of faith is a bedrock of religious freedom.
In the words of the cadet who wrote to MRFF, who described him/herself as "kind of the leader" of this underground group: "If any of us gave even the slightest indication that we weren't one of their number, our lives would be even more miserable than they already are due to the fact that we are all living lies here. Despite the Cadet Honor Code we all lie about our lives. We have to."
As of last year, it appeared that the religious climate at the Academy was improving, largely due to the good channel of communication that had been opened up between MRFF and USAF Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Gould. A number of situations were resolved without the need to make them public, and the number of complaints received by MRFF from cadets had dropped significantly. Unfortunately, these signs of improvement were all too short lived.
Last year, due to our then confidence in Lt. Gen. Gould, MRFF was advising the cadets and USAF Academy staff who came to us to trust the system, and not to be afraid to take their complaints and concerns to the appropriate staff at the Air Force Academy. The cadets et al were skeptical, but MRFF assured them that things were changing for the better. Apparently, in light of recent events, the cadets as well as members of the USAF Academy staff were right to remain skeptically leery of the system.
According to the cadet who wrote to MRFF: "For a long time you asked us to trust the 'system' here at USAFA and take our religious persecution grievances 'up the chain' or to other reporting elements. You told us all the time that the Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Gould, and his staff would have our backs and not let anything bad happen to us if we came forward. We told you that was crazy. We told you that many times."
In addition to the ongoing difficulties faced by non-fundamentalist Christians at the Academy, two specific recent events were cited as the catalysts for the cadet's letter. (MRFF has also been contacted by numerous other cadets and Academy staff regarding these same two issues.)
1. The refusal of the Academy to make public the results of this year's USAF Academy "Climate Survey."
The results of this voluntary and anonymous survey of cadets and staff, taken this year by about 40 percent of the cadets and 53 percent of the staff members, was proudly touted by Lt. Gen. Gould as evidence that "Fewer cadets feel pressured to be involved in religious activities than in the past." But the Academy refused to make the survey results public, as it has done in previous years. It was only when the full results of the survey were leaked to the press that the ugly truth about the current religious climate at the Academy emerged.
353 cadets (almost 1 out of every 5 survey participants) reported having been subjected to unwanted religious proselytizing, and 23 cadets (13 of them Christians) reported living "in fear of their physical safety" because of their religious beliefs. Who knows what other show stoppers are being intentionally held back by the Air Force Academy?
2. The inclusion by the Air Force Academy Public Affairs Office in the daily Academy-wide "Falcon Clips" email of a sectarian Christian-themed blog post written by an active duty Air Force officer and Academy graduate. The specifics of this individual's extensive internet activities and his Christian supremacy website are available by contacting Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, The Judge Advocate General of the USAF in the Pentagon.
These daily emails begin with the statement: "MESSAGE SENT ON BEHALF OF THE SUPERINTENDENT," and the description: "The Falcon Clips attachment is a daily compilation of local and national news stories relevant to the Air Force Academy and military personnel."
The September 21, 2010 "Falcon Clips" email included an item that was neither a local nor a national news story, but a diatribe against MRFF from the aforementioned Christian supremacist Air Force officer. This blog post was the second of the fourteen "news" items in the Academy-wide email, and was listed under the heading "SUPT COMMENTARY." (again, all salient information about this Air Force officer's sectarian Christian website and internet postings are available from Lt. Gen. Richard Harding; HQ USAF/JA)
Well over a hundred of this particular Air Force officer's posts on his sectarian Christian-themed website have been about or mentioned MRFF, many containing outright lies about the foundation, its staff, and its activities. Other posts have attacked and spread false information about specific active duty enlisted personnel, both in the USAF and other military branches, unable to effectively defend themselves because they are far subordinate in military rank to this particular Air Force officer.
A number of this same Air Force officer's posts have even contained derogatory statements about Lt. Gen. Gould himself, with this same Air Force officer publicly questioning Gould's decisions and judgment when the General made positive comments about MRFF (posts which Lt. Gen. Gould is fully aware of). None of these posts, however, were emailed to the entire Air Force Academy in the "Falcon Clips." Yet, this particular Air Force officer's sarcastic rant against MRFF, opportunistically seizing upon what, unfortunately, appears to be the end of MRFF's productive working relationship with Lt. Gen. Gould, was the subject of a massively distributed e-mail to all Academy cadets and staff.
Scores of Academy cadets and faculty members have contacted MRFF about the utter impropriety and offensiveness of the Academy's endorsement and distribution not only of a non-newsworthy rant by a single blogger, but the resultant endorsement of a blogger who is an active duty Air Force officer who is devoted to promoting Christian supremacy in the military through personal attacks and lies on his internet website.
As one Academy faculty member, an active duty USAF officer, wrote to MRFF upon seeing this Air Force officer's post in the Falcon Clips: "How can we look upon our senior staff as defenders of the Constitution when they clearly endorse this pro-Christian supremacy commentary? When they don't take a hard stance against this type of behavior, what are we to think as their subordinates? This is why I am always reluctant to air my grievances — what will they do to me because I don't support their beliefs?"
From another USAF officer and Academy graduate: "The fact that the Academy would distribute a biased third party blog to the ENTIRE CADET WING, ACADEMY FACULTY AND ALL OTHER ACADEMY STAFF in an attempt to humiliate you shows that they have completely abandoned their sense of impartiality and even their sense of decency. I find it horribly hypocritical that the institution preaches honor and maintenance of high moral standards in life and conflict, then turns on that philosophy through underhanded attacks against you."
The referenced blog post from that Christian supremacist Air Force officer, mass-distributed in the "Falcon Clips" by the Air Force Academy Public Affairs Office, was one regarding a particular fundamentalist Christian ministry active at the Academy for apparently decades called "Cadets for Christ." MRFF has been contacted about this ministry, not only by cadets, but, most recently, and most disturbingly, from the parents of a 2010 Academy graduate who is now on active duty. Now, three other families have just recently contacted MRFF about the exact same matter. The first family to have contacted MRFF about "Cadets for Christ" did so over well over 4 years ago regarding their then cadet daughter.
From everything MRFF has been told about Cadets for Christ, we can reach no other conclusion than that this ministry, operated primarily at the home of Don and Anna Warrick, but also permitted on the campus of the Academy, is allegedly using cult-like tactics to separate cadets from everything and everyone in their lives, including their families, the clearly delineated core values and principles of the United States Air Force and the oaths they took to uphold the United States Constitution.
The following are a few excerpts from just one of the emails received by MRFF from the parents of the 2010 graduate:
"Our nightmare began when she joined (we found out later that she was recruited), a 'Bible study' group headed by Don and Anna Warrick during the second semester of her second year. Our initial thought was 'good' it will give her a healthy avenue to relieve stresses at the academy. However, in retrospect the study group truly operated under the definition of a brainwashing cult with ulterior motives."
"It was at these meetings my daughter was informed that her career should be that of a wife and mother — the Biblical terms they use: the female is the sheep and the male is the shepherd."
"Our daughter was methodically brain washed into believing that she was unsaved in the Catholic religion. During spring break 2009, she urgently asked that we read the Bible everyday in order to 'receive the grace of God and be saved.' This manner of speech took us completely off guard."
"This invisible force has rocked our family to the core. Two sisters no longer talk to one another. A mother has been asked to no longer contact her daughter. A father tries very hard to keep some sense of equilibrium in the family. This is what our family has become. Nevertheless, we will continue our attempts to bring our daughter back to us — we will never give up hope."
"As parents, it is very difficult to see your child change in a manner that you no longer recognize her as your own. We grossly underestimated the power of this group. Being at such a geographical distance, coupled with the rigors of the USAFA, it becomes more difficult to monitor behavioral changes until they have taken deep root. Do you have any idea how it feels to grieve the loss of a child who is alive and healthy? THE AIR FORCE ACADEMY ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN!"
On behalf of the hundred plus cadets (that we know of) who feel that they have no other option than to suffer the unconscionable indignity of pretending to practice a religion not of their choosing in order to succeed at the United States Air Force Academy, many faculty and related staff at the Academy and the parents of the 2010 Academy graduate and any other Academy cadet and graduate parents who are losing or have lost their children to the alleged cult called "Cadets for Christ," MRFF hereby demands:
1.) that the complete results of the U.S. Air Force Academy's most recent Climate Survey be immediately released to the public; and
2.) that the Dept. of Defense immediately initiate an aggressive and comprehensive investigation into the activities of "Cadets for Christ", and any and all other similarly situated religious proselytizing organizations at the Academy, both on and off the USAF Academy campus; and
3.) that the Dept. of Defense immediately initiate an aggressive and comprehensive investigation of the USAF Academy's incontrovertible and unconstitutional establishment of a fundamentalist Christian culture/meme amongst its cadet and staff populations and its concomitant failure to train and educate its professional staff and Cadet Wing about the Constitutionally-mandated imperatives of the Bill of Rights, especially church-state separation.
Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq.
Founder & President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
Columbus Jewish Foundation
1997 Nobel Peace Prize
Int'l Campaign Co-Founder; to Ban Land Mines
MRFF Advisory Board Member
Interfaith Freedom Foundation
The American Muslim
DC Office Director
Muslim Public Affairs Council
California Council of Churches
Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers
Veterans for Common Sense
President Barack Obama
John M. McHugh — Secretary of the Army
Ray Mabus — Secretary of the Navy
Michael B. Donley — Secretary of the Air Force
Admiral Michael Mullen — Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General James E Cartwright — Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General George W. Casey, Jr. — Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Admiral Gary Roughead — Chief of Naval Operations
General Norton A. Schwartz — Chief of State of the United States Air Force
General James T. Conway — Commandant of the Marine Corps
Sen. Michael Bennet says because of tax cuts he supported, small businesses will be motivated to invest.
We'll see, but who can argue with a reduction in taxes, as outlined in a press release, pertaining to capital gains, bonus depreciation health insurance costs for the self-employed, cellphone deductions and limitations on penalties for errors in tax reporting that disproportionately affect small business.
The cuts are contained in the Bennet-supported Small Business Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Obama today.
“At a time when small businesses across Colorado need all the support they can get to make it through this difficult economy, these new tax cuts will provide immediate help,” Bennet said in the release. “We need to support our small businesses and entrepreneurs and the jobs they create. This bill will help get the flywheel spinning again so our small businesses have the tools they need to grow, create jobs and help our economy recover. It is unfortunate that this important help was blocked by a minority of Senators for months when it could have been helping small businesses in cities and towns throughout Colorado.”
The Small Business Jobs Act, along with providing substantial tax relief for small businesses, also includes improvements and expansions to SBA lending programs, including provisions that Bennet has backed. The bill also calls for the creation of a $30 billion lending facility for community banks to expand lending to small businesses struggling to obtain loans as credit markets have dried up.
I spoil pets, big time. Just ask my boyfriend, who comes second to fussing over my parakeet.
I'm not saying it's cool, or even a good idea, but if there's anything in this world I roll over for out of sheer squee-ness, it's for pets. And beyond toys and belly rubs and vet bills, you can shower your pet with God's love at Blessing of the Animals, an upcoming prayer event and mini-pet expo.
Hosted by Faith Presbyterian Church, the Blessing invites "cats, dogs, ferrets, birds, hamsters and even pet snakes." Beyond that, the event will have pet groomers, trainers, vet practices, vendors and organizations like Dreampower Animal Rescue on hand. The event will take place Sun., Oct. 3, 3 p.m., at the church, 1529 N. Circle Drive.
For more information, call 596-4895.
If you missed the September show openings at the Modbo and Rubbish art galleries Sept. 10, you still have through Friday, Oct. 1 to check out the exhibitions.
Over at Modbo, along with Holly Garlow's photography, Douglas Rouse, often recognized for his trompe l'oeil work, is showing off “Steam Punk Paraphernalia and the Attack of the Dinosaur.” After my steampunk story earlier this month, I was highly entertained by Rouse's attire (and wished I'd brought my camera). He was decked out from head to toe in full period regalia.
Steampunk aside, my favorite piece of his was this:
And what's even cooler, is that last week, this image became a "Texas-sized banner" on the back wall of a real estate building in Dallas owned by Lyda Hill to help promote the current expansion work of the Perot Museum of Nature & Science. The T-Rex in Rouse's art is holding the new museum building, planned for an early 2013 opening.
And maybe even cooler than that, just this morning Rouse e-mailed over a photo of his image being promoted in Times Square:
Lots of excitement for him. (Don't even think of leaving us, Doug.)
Of course, I have to mention the Rubbish show as well, where you'll find May to September, works by husband/wife artists Lindsay Hand and Drew LiVigni. I enjoyed LiVigni's pieces, but it was Hand's that I was most drawn too.
Her oil-on-canvas art, with its dark, long strokes, is filled with passion. If I'd gotten to the show earlier, I would have seriously considered purchasing this piece, "Kolka." (Alas, someone else got to it first.)
You can see more of Hand's work at her website.
Tucked around the corner in Rubbish's back room, I did find a piece I could purchase: a quirky little 2-by-2 inch canvas painting of a bird, signed simply "Mag." I've been trying to find out who the painter on this piece was, but with no luck. If you know — or you are the artist — drop me a note in the comments. I love this piece!
Cute, huh? You just never know what you'll find in a random alley off downtown.
While at this point most Americans have come to expect a few skeletons — or prostitutes, or lobbyists — to be hiding in the closets of our elected officials, it is still somewhat unnerving to learn just how many of our state's candidates have records.
It's a lot. A lot a lot.
Anyway, the Denver Post put together a list that's a pretty fascinating read. Check it out to learn who has a DUI, who has domestic violence charges, who lost their license to practice medicine, and who's been to court as a co-defendant in a civil wrongful death lawsuit. It's all here.
As part of GOCA 1420's Hypothesis: Process in Science and Art exhibit, the gallery has lined up four free lectures further melding the strange kinship between the arts and sciences. Each presentation features a tag-team lecture between an artist and a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs science faculty member, each of whom will speak on their own projects and how they see the intersections of art and science. All lectures except one take place at 7 p.m. in the Centennial Hall Auditorium (in Centennial Hall, formerly the Science Building).
• Coming Thursday, "Hydrophobicity & Installation Art," with Scott Johnson and Curt Holder, PhD.
Local artist Johnson teaches art at Colorado College, and works primarily in installations, most notably his "Infinity Boxes," which utilize two-way mirrors to create infinite-appearing expanses in contained spaces (See, "Smoke and Mirrors" for more).
Holder instructs physical geography and human-environment relationships, having worked in reforestation, soil conservation and watershed management projects.
• Oct. 7, "Archaeology & Adobe," with Erin Elder and Minette Church, PhD.
Elder works as an independent curator, writer and teacher while also creating art based on collaboration "sense of place and expanded notions of culture." She's currently studying 1960s-era artist communes, such as Drop City.
Church, an anthropological archaeologist, is associate professor of anthropology. She specializes in the 19th- and early 20th-century American West.
• Oct. 14, "Lightning Strikes & Endless Landscapes," with Christopher Coleman and Brandon Vogt, PhD.
NOTE: Held in room 106.
Coleman creates sculptures, videos, performances and interactive artworks. He has exhibited throughout Europe and Southeast Asia, and now lives in Denver, instructing at Denver University.
Vogt is assistant professor of geology, currently researching sandstone weathering patterns, mapping ancient glacial landforms on Pikes Peak and cloud-to-ground lightning interactions in Colorado.
• Oct. 21, "Toxins & Dinner Plates," with Kim Abeles and Janel Owens, PhD.
Abeles is well-known for her multimedia art and installations dealing with social and environmental issues. Her "Smog Collector" series caught world-wide attention, garnering interviews in mainstream sources such as Newsweek, National Public Radio, CBS Evening News, and The Wall Street Journal.
Owens is an assistant professor of chemistry at UCCS. Current research interests include pharmaceuticals analysis, nanomaterials in foods and the interaction and effect of food components on the stability and bioavailability of environmental pollutants.
Parking is free during these events in lot 3 at UCCS.
For more information on these lectures, visit galleryuccs.org.
In the interest of full disclosure I want to say first that I think Segway scooters are goofy.
I know they have their fans and all, but every time I see one, I find myself thinking, "C'mon, you couldn't just walk?"
That said, it turns out Segway scooters may have more problems than my opinions: Turns out, they're pretty dangerous.
Did everybody hear that the new owner of the Segway company plunged to his death on one of the scooters recently?
Well, if that's not evidence enough, there are apparently plenty more examples of brutal Segway accidents.
Read on: MSNBC.
Colorado Springs Utilities plans to market $180 million in bonds this week to help fund the Southern Delivery System pipeline, the New York Times reported.
That's part of the roughly $800 million project cost, which, when financing costs are added over the project's 40-year life, will cost ratepayers $2.3 billion.
The project will bring water from Pueblo Reservoir and increase the city's supply by a third. Based on rate forecasts, Springs Utilities customers' water rates would double by 2016 to pay for the pipeline, which is being built in part to supply the 23,000-acre Banning Lewis Ranch on the city's east side. Annexed in 1988, development is just starting to begin, slowed considerably by the recession.
Motley Crue fans will be glad to know that, according to a New York Times post earlier this afternoon, Vince Neil has been given a new court date for his latest DUI case.
The Times story makes no mention of the fact that Neil was convicted of vehicular manslaughter 25 years ago, for which the alcoholic frontman was given a 30-day sentence, 18 of which he reportedly served.
Ironically, the past quarter-century has made Neil no less clueless and corrupt. While promoting a new autobiography, Neil bragged to Reuters news service last week: "I don't have any regrets. Anything that I've done wrong, I've learned from."
What Neil has learned, of course, is that (1) massive amounts of money will allow you to get away with anything, and (2) a complete lack of talent is no obstacle to acquiring those massive amounts of money.
Still, it's hard to imagine Neil buying his way out of hell in the next life, given the living hell he's created for others in this one.
Oh yeah, extra points for naming the Motley Crue box set Music to Crash Your Car To.
I just received an e-mail from the folks at Wholly Crepe announcing a sudden, permanent closure as of this Thursday, Sept. 30.
Just two weeks ago, the outfit was announcing the addition of an indoor petanque court (the French version of Bocce) and new products, so the news certainly comes as a surprise.
I'll aim to have more news on this in this week's Side Dish column.
In our interview, Kyle Gass of the mock-rock band Trainwreck told me he loves playing small venues in towns he'd otherwise never get to see.
But maybe he doesn't love it that much.
Slated to play the Triple Nickel Tavern (26 S. Wahsatch Ave.) this Saturday, Oct. 2, Trainwreck sent word this afternoon that their tour has been canceled. Though this might be disappointing news for the Nickel crew, fans of the band and ickle baby journalists who were looking forward to their first in-print article, the statement by the band's publicist did not include any reason for the sudden change.
In case you're still curious about the band and their bro-tastic blend of classic rock and down-home comedy schtick, here's the article that would have graced this week's edition of the Indy, lovingly remastered in tech-tastic blogoform for your reading pleasure.
Sweethearts of the brodeo
Tenacious D’s other half busts guts and takes names in the aptly named Trainwreck
Kyle Gass has gone through a number of changes over the past decade, the biggest being his transformation from small-time actor to Jack Black’s musical partner in the band Tenacious D. Now Gass has morphed again, this time into Klip Calhoun, vocalist and guitarist for the severely mulleted Trainwreck, a band that’s establishing itself as the Spinal Tap of Southern rock.
Gass is sharing Trainwreck frontman duties with Daryl Lee Donald — AKA Jason Reed, who also plays “Lee,” the roadie character in the Tenacious D universe. So what is it that drives men to leave behind the glamour of Hollywood for the uncertainties of life on the open road in what Trainwreck affectionately calls the Wreckabago?
“Not quite sure what I was thinking,” Gass admits. “But I wanted something to do while Jack was making movies, and I knew I wanted to work with my friend JR.”
And why is that?
“He looks good in a mullet and really tight Wranglers.”
But while Trainwreck’s costumes and schtick may be “countrified,” Gass insists the sound isn’t: “I’m old enough to have grown up with Lynyrd Skynyrd, and they’re the kings of that kind of thing. [The term] ‘Southern rock’ is kind of redundant, really. It wasn’t like, ‘OK you guys, we have to throw in a Johnny Cash-type number here.’ The Southern thing just kind of happened. It’s really more with the characters now; the music is classic rock.”
Not that they have anything against country.
“It’s more of a loving homage,” Gass says. “We’re not trying to make fun of anybody.” Even so, he adds, “When we were first going to go down [South], we were like, ‘Are people gonna hate us?’”
Mullets or not, the reception has been mostly positive, including a major (if somewhat backhanded) compliment from his frequent creative partner Jack Black.
“As Jack said, ‘If you love Tenacious D, you will like Trainwreck.’”
But Gass does sees a clear line between the two bands.
“When it’s D Time, it’s D Time,” he says. “But that’s what’s great about having to put on costumes. It takes you out of your normal thing … Or it could just be that we have one hundredth the audience that Tenacious D has.”
Like Gass himself, Trainwreck is forever crashing into new territory.
Currently, he says, “We’re working on cracking the viral video code. I want my own 'Double Rainbow' up there. Something people catch on and have to watch it 5 million times.”
After that, perhaps they’ll crack the girl code. “We wanted to be a band that girls went crazy for, but I don’t know. There’s just too much testosterone in the band or something. That’s the next [step]: we need a really strong love song.”
And what would that look like for Trainwreck?
“It’d be ugly; that’s why it hasn’t happened,” admits Gass. “We’re like the Village People, we’re all masculine icons. We’re so macho that we might be mistaken for gays.”
For now, Trainwreck is making the most of the audience attracted by the band’s swaggering, bromantic appeal.
“That’s why we have the rights to the song ‘Brodeo’,” says Gass of the band’s current demographic. “It’s just dudes lookin’ at us.”
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