Post image for Milstein At The Movies: “Paul Blart: Mall Cop II”

I do this job. I write these reviews every week. I see these awful atrocities that some greedy fucks team up to shit out all over our culture. They hang these pieces of garbage from an infected piercing on the end of America’s low brow. This crap isn’t art, it’s money. That’s all I see anymore. Dirty, filthy, boring, ugly money. The worst part is it’s not even yours. Some of it was. Once. Now it’s in that machine. You don’t have to watch the world burn around you because you can go to the movies. And do they have the decency to at least paint a pretty picture to distract us from the nightmare that cold hearted capitalism has wrought on this society? No! They just spray their piss on the screen and charge you $20 to eat popcorn while you look at it. Honestly, it’s embarrassing that we accept it. But every once in a while a beacon of light shines through. A film cuts through the haze of mediocrity and gives us a clear reminder that this can be beautiful. Paul Blart is that little ray of sunshine.

I don’t know why Hollywood can’t get this right. Take an out of shape person and make them do athletic shit. Take a dumb person and make them do smart shit. Take a shitty person and make them do good shit. We want to see people doing stuff they can’t do. It’s like a formula for making art. Correction: for making “Blart”. If you think that’s a coincidence, think again. I did! This film is the culmination of everything we know about how to entertain people. I’m not saying that these films should win an award. I’m saying that the Academy should take back every award they’ve ever given out and melt them down to create a massive golden Blart that we can look at with tears in our eyes in between sequels. Then the Academy should respectfully disband as their job is done. We have a winner.

Here are some spoilers: This time it’s a bigger place and there’s more bad guys…at least twice as many, now that I think about it. Wow, I just made that connection. They’ve always stayed so faithful to the books that I didn’t think about it (yes, I’ve read all the books and if they keep delivering the goods this might be the finest duodecilogy of film that human kind has ever produced). These stories have layers. Also, you know how in the first one he goes to slide behind that mall sign and doesn’t make it to it? This time he slides past it! I’ll wait until you’re done laughing. Genius, right?! Now, if you’re a true Paulbearer like myself you’ll see some nods to the original as well as some foreshadowing of what’s to come later in the series.

I’ve actually been writing some fan fiction about Paul Blart teaming up with Larry Daley, Joe Dirt, Tammy, Mr. Bean, and Nacho Libre to form a super team of comical ineptitude. I’ll bet you’re wondering which universe it’ll take place in or how they’ll end up teaming up? Me too! If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them. So far I just have that they’re in it…basically just a list of their names. Except I hadn’t actually written it down yet. It was like a mind list but now that I’ve typed it, I’m gonna write it. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be well loved by fans to be considered the unofficial 13th installment. I am Milstein. I dream miracles. – Seth Milstein

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Post image for Better Late Than Nowhere: A Moving Units Listening “Party”

We typically review records in their first thirty days of existence, but we didn’t exist in October of 2004 when Moving Units released Dangerous Dreams, So when they came to Eugene on Friday, touring on the album’s 10 year anniversary (or 11 year, whatever, 10 sounds better, we get it.) we took the opportunity to cash in and share our two cents. Bay Area artist/UO transplant Daniel Lopez was on scene to soak it up, crush on the band, and spill some opinions.

This is the first and only time I’ve heard this album*. It wasn’t totally real, though, since the tracklist seemed out-of-order from what Wikipedia reports to everyone reading the page for Dangerous Dreams. I don’t think I would have been able to tell the difference, except when Lead Singer told the listening party that they played a new tune (during the middle of the album). Did they even do an encoreThe lightmasters made the room brighter to make people leave, and it worked. I know I did because that was all the dance punk I could take in one night.

But I love dance punk! I don’t even mind that all of the bands in this genre are angular, use the word “radio,” and are sexy. I think Lead Singer tried to be the most obvious target for courting, but I was busy imagining putting my tits on Bassist’s tits. He has that wonderful type of body that is a bit fluffy, but it’s actually not too apparent until you see the slight outline of the breasts in the shirt and your dick demands increased blood-flow.

The music is technically proficient. It may be a bit like chomping on hella kiwis and grapes for an hour straight (maybe a short break for technical adjustment), but at least it’s much better than the eating-uncooked-oatmeal-in-the-desert-while-reading-state-laws that is Franz Ferdinand. Speaking of, Cooper Wilt subscribed to the zeitgeist too hard: look at how dated his part seems! Same with Leo and Moving Units, too (but it makes sense: bratty mid-2000s Foundation am rail chomper (he’s better now, though simply an evolved version)). That’s where Shimizu did it right with Gang Of Four, and was therefore picked by Ludacrooks as one of the Classics. 

Shimizu and the Nuge_s wife

The previous band (The Shifts) that played their live songs prior was as good as spaghetti, though I admit that I was turned off by the helmet hair enough to sit down while they performed most of their own music. I never had a chance to see the first group of musicians since I was adamant about collecting my cereal so I wouldn’t have a shitty breakfast. – Daniel Lopez

*sorry to bite your Rapid Fire Record Reviews, Joshua Isaac Finch

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Post image for Milstein At The Movies: “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”

This one’s a doozy! First of all, twinkles, it’s not a movie theater movie. It’s an HBO movie so you watch it home in a box…that can’t be right…they couldn’t make sure you watch it in a box. Not everyone, anyway. But they are going to want to make sure you watch it so their name makes sense and they can feel good about having chose it. Are they spelling it “Bocks”? But what the fuck is that then? Oh, I get it. It’s like “the idiot box” because you watch it on your TV and that’s a nickname for all TVs. They should have just called it “TVO” to be less confusing. “Television Office”. Ugh, this whole paragraph sucks! Let’s do a different one…

Would you be interested in spacemen if they only wanted all of your money and to maybe yell at you? I wouldn’t. I do wonder though why some people do. Maybe they’re yelling some great stuff at you? The folks in this movie don’t like it so much. They just feel all ripped off and dumb because some aliens tricked them with a guitar tuner and some words. Imagine if you’ve either been scared or fascinated by the thought of extra terrestrial beings making contact but when they do, they’re just some sleazy jerks. What if E.T. was just a pickpocket? What if Chewbacca is one of those dudes at the bus station that offers to sell you weed but then after you give him the money, he pretends that the cops are coming and just gives you a bunch of wadded up tissues as he runs away? I’ll tell you what. You’ll get real sad that you didn’t get to blaze with Chewie but you’ll feel pretty cool that you understood him well enough to complete a business transaction. Then you’ll blaze that Wookie tissue and convince yourself that you caught a pretty good buzz.

Also, this isn’t a movie where stuff happens or anything. It’s one of the ones where there’s just people talking. Like, instead of things happening, it’s just people talking about things that already happened. Like they couldn’t afford to make a movie so they just made this instead. So when, in a regular movie, you’d see an alien tell a lady that he’ll fix her life in exchange for all of her money, in this you’d just see her tell you that happened. You know how in a regular movie you’d see a bunch of sex and explosions? In this it would just be people telling you about it if they had experienced that. They didn’t though. Not these folks. They did different stuff.

I think it’s safe to say that the point of this is to not trust aliens. Or maybe it’s that you don’t need a specific ideology to define who you are. You can just be a good person on your own. Or maybe it’s that if you’re going to make a movie you should have enough money for something to actually happen in it. I guess it wasn’t safe to say that thing I just said it was safe to say since I clearly don’t know what that thing meant. It was dangerous to say that. I’m sorry. Probably not as dangerous as aliens though. Keep your hand on your wallet, assholes! – Seth Milstein

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Post image for Young Fathers “White Men Are Black Men Too” (Big Dada)

Young Fathers beat out Kate Tempest for the 2014 Mercury Prize with their debut album, Dead. Perhaps this was only an upset in my circles, but if you also listened hard and long to the spoken word novel that is Everybody Down, you’d probably also raise an eyebrow. However, that’s just it. The Mercury Prize is awarded for overall excellence in music. Not to say Kate Tempest isn’t a brilliant writer and poet, but musically, there’s not much else to her album besides brilliant lyrics over treated 808 beats. Regardless of the depth of Young Father’s lyrics (which are still pretty deep) there’s simply much more going on musically. Dead straddled the line between hip hop, pulling in sonic tendencies of trip hop, British garage, and even indie rock.

Since they struck gold with their first release, Young Fathers could easily be forgiven for waiting three to five years before lobbing a sophomore record at us. Instead they hopped right to it and just over a year after Dead, we’re given White Men Are Black Men Too. It seems almost too soon in this day and age and on first listen, I felt like this album felt a little unnecessary. This doesn’t mean it’s not good, but it really doesn’t offer anything too different from the first record. It practically sounds like a Pt. II, but a Pt. II to a badass Pt. I, like the Amnesiac to a Kid A*. This either means they had two records worth of songs to begin with or they’re just really hard workers.

I will say, if there is an evolution of sound on this album, it’s that it strays even further from the moniker of “hip hop.” While I could – in good conscious – call Dead a hip hop album, albeit a very alternative one, this record seems to be drawing heavily from every genre except that one. This sounds more like a TV On The Radio album (and a good one) than an alt hip hop album. While the influence from hip hop is still there and always will be, the sound is transcendent to say the least. The beats are more reminiscent of ’90s Bjork than anything you could really rap over. It sounds more like hip hop if you let it remind you of The Streets or The Avalanches and even that’s stretching it.

So, that’s a good thing right? I think so. It just doesn’t really offer anything that Dead doesn’t, except a promise that they will continue to distill and distort hip hop until it’s practically unrecognizable. I read one review simply describe the sound as “Scottish.” Well done, whoever that was. I will now file my Young Fathers collection in that genre along with The Exploited and Average White Band.

If you’ve never heard of Young Fathers before, this is just as fine a place to start as Dead. If you like one, you’ll like the other. For this particular album, the two singles, “Shame” and “Rain Or Shine,” are good gateway drugs. I particularly like the more dragging, beat-heavy songs such as “Still Running” and “Old Rock N Roll.” There’s enough spacey keyboard in this album to make it easily confused for some freak-folk or psych-rock akin to Tame Impala**. In fact, take away the voices on songs like “Nest” and it could pass for a Tame Impala song. There’s been comparisons to krautrock as well which especially rings true on “Liberated.”

This is a group to follow. Since TV On The Radio sorta fizzled out, this band seems like a good band to pass the torch to. Hopefully they don’t burn out to quickly with their rapid-fire album producing, but I wouldn’t blame them if they did. They already won the Mercury Prize, so they’ve set the bar ridiculously high for themselves. If they’re true artists and remain inspired, we can expect good things from these black and white men from Scotland. – Bennett Mohler

Editor’s Opinionated Crap:
*I’ll probably catch flack for finally stating this publicly, but I have always found Amnesiac to be a far superior collection of songs. Of course I loved Kid A, but maybe, just maybe it got me appropriately warmed up and mentally ready to fall ridiculously in love with Amnesiac.

**A band who’s appeal I will simply never understand.

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Post image for Punk Love: Bad Religion & Falling For “Bad Boys” An essay by Jess D.

For me, punk and the men who love punk, will forever be connected in my head and heart.  They are one and the same. I love punk for the same reason. I love the punks, (my favorite “bad boy” subgenre): they see everything clearly and call it like it is. They feel deeply and can express the entire spectrum of emotions to you in an hour and a half span: euphoria, rage, gentleness, lust, love and pain. To me, loving punk and loving the punk bad boy, just means I’m comfortable with the dichotomies and contradictions of life.

I was 15 years old when a bad boy turned me from my shallow teenage love affair with the world of pop punk–Green Day, NOFX, New Found Glory, and Blink-182  featured primarily—and opened my eyes to the breadth and depth of punk. “Cal” (which we will call him here) was nearly 18, and came with homemade tattoos, a tongue piercing, and a shaved head. He was delivered into my life by two juvie officers, dressed in an orange prison jump suit. The place we met was super 90s-romantic–basically a mental health unit for teenagers. I was the anorexic, severely depressed suicidal; Cal was openly defiant, with a hungry, calculated look to his eyes. He alluded to some manipulation of the court system that allowed him to serve a shorter time if he played the “I have problems and want help” card, but never gave me more details than that. I was long past broken down by a life so painful I spent the last ten years trying to disappear from it. Cal was rebelliously defiant in his survival tactics. I was exhausted by the struggle of it all. Of course, I fell for him.

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We spent our daily art therapy and free time hours writing notes to each other; drawing pictures together; and talking about life—which included music and his love of punk. He showed me his Black Flag tattoo. I told him about the three Green Day shows I had been to. He began loaning me CDs to listen to at night. And, more than anything, it’s this relationship that saved my life. The relationship I formed with punk rock.

Shortly after that stay, I was off the medications, and I was out of contact with Cal. (Who I later learned got into bands like No Remorse and impregnated a 14 year old. Both of which I found devastating at the time.) But my ardor and awe for the DIY, pull yourself up the gutter, scream your feelings, fuck and fight and rage because you are alive, kind of punk… that would stay with me for life. Just as my ideas on love and life have matured since 15, so too has my taste in punk. Except, in some ways, nothing has changed at all. I think all the people we’ve been in our lives still live inside of us. So, in many ways, I’m still that cynical, depleted teenager, looking for a passion and pain in every bad boy I come across; and, while my love of punk has broadened and expanded, it has never strayed far from its roots. To this day, the music that makes my soul bounce and my heart lift are the staples: Rancid, AntiFlag, Operation Ivy, The Distillers, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys…And, of course, Bad Religion.

badpost

Bad Religion stands out as one of the most commercialized punk rock bands of an era. Their posters, music and name are dropped in more major movies, TV shows and video games than I have  any interest in listing here. So, while I’m gonna assume they’ve made a pretty penny on their success, I don’t think this necessitates that they’ve “sold out.”  If “selling out” is to change your original art and vision to appeal to the masses and the market, I feel like it’s easy to argue that Bad Religion has, by and large, avoided this. (But don’t ask me about that one Christmas album please. I don’t even know what the fuck to make of it. Is it truly satire? Is it a cheesy profit booster? Is it based on a really bad dare?? Seriously, I kinda want to know…)

In my opinion, Bad Religion has managed metamorphosis without losing the essential core.  Basically, Bad Religion is my dream lover come to life: the bad boy who can continue to change and grow with you through the years, who won’t continuously remind you of poor choices you made in your youth, (exception: that one fucking Christmas thing), and who will be, above all else, consistent, constant, THERE FOR YOU. In this way, Bad Religion continues to, not only produce decent albums, but also to put on high-energy, high-passion shows and tours. Defying the norms of their genre and overly-commercialized music, Bad Religion never asks that we, as fans, compromise our standards, shell out for half-hearted efforts or remain supportive in the face of supreme betrayals. Instead, like a good relationship should, Bad Religion has met my undying loyalty with significant effort and healthy reward.

These days, I (mostly) love the bad boys from afar, having realized in the last five years that maybe I don’t need to jump on every train wreck that comes along… But Bad Religion and punk rock as a whole? There is a commitment there, a consistency, that heartens my jaded heart.  And I just cannot settle for anything less than how punk makes me feel : alive, energized, addicted, safe, comforted, at home. Back to Bad Religion…for me, “Infected” is good ol’ fashioned BDSM-style sex.  “Sorrow” is the comfort I need at the end of a disastrous week.  “Stranger than Fiction” is a shared dark humor on life. “American Jesus” is mutual atheism. “Kyoto Now” is political discussion over beer and nachos.  “Wrong Way Kids” are nostalgic moments time spent sharing secrets from youth.

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Punk rock, and the men who love punk, will always be my favorites—as engrained in my personal preferences now as my love of sushi and hatred of water chestnuts. They will always cause  a very visceral reaction deep within me—butterflies, dilated pupils, faster heartbeat, biochemical cocktail rush of adrenaline and dopamine—but now I know that a mosh pit, in the end, will always be less damaging to me than a man that never learned to truly love anything, least of all himself. Luckily, punk rock taught ME how to truly and deeply love—both myself, and something greater. Loving punk these last ten years or so is a lesson in humility, (your friends and lovers will make fun of you), patience, (hardly anyone tours anymore), and how to love something even after it’s cool and sexy and fun–after the magic wears off and the Warped tours turn to screamo and you’re at home still craving the same crusty three chords that my kinda punk throws around. That, my friends, is true, deep, punk rock love. – Jess D.

 

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