Tag Archives: American

T.G.I.F. – Ten Tunes For Americans

Ding dong, the bitch is dead!

Yeah, I’m feeling patriotic this week. Who isn’t? Well, maybe not patriotic like Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” or James Cagney as George M. Cohan belting out “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. But after this week’s activities, why not let that freak flag fly a bit?

So here are Ten Tunes for Americans. Rock out with your face out!

(01) – American Girl (Tom Petty)

(02) – Dancing In The Street  (Martha and The Vandellas)

(03) – Celebration (Kool and the Gang)

(04) – Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young)

(05) – Get Together (The Youngbloods)

(06) – Pink Houses  (John Mellencamp)

(07) – (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party (Beastie Boys)

(08) – People Got To be Free  (The Rascals)

(09) – Living In America (James Brown)

(10) – America (Simon and Garfunkel)

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Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day! For all you did, and for all you do – my humble thanks. May your bravery and sacrifice never be forgotten, and may we honor it and you all the days of the year, not just on the official one.

Unlike many holidays that are celebrated on the Monday nearest their real date, Veterans Day is always celebrated on the 11th of November. The significance is that the major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. The exception was a nine-year period in the 1970s where it was moved to the fourth Monday in October, reportedly to have a Federal holiday better centered between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

This holiday to celebrate military veterans was first instituted in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson and expanded to honor veterans of all wars in 1954 by President Eisenhower. Although it is at heart an American holiday, it is also celebrated as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in several countries around the world.

Germany…not so much.

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Remembering Sam Kinison

Hard to believe that it’s eighteen years since Sam Kinsion was killed.

Like many, my first exposure to Sam’s mania was on the Young Comedian’s Special on HBO, hosted by Rodney Dangerfield. He was onstage for six minutes – six – and I’ll wager that anyone who watched that show that evening was on the phone by morning, calling a friend and saying “Holy shit…you have to see this guy!”.

Sam on the 1984 Young Comedian’s Special

Dangerfield proved to be a friend and mentor to Sam. Unlike some comedians, Rodney wasn’t afraid of competition from other comics, and Sam was incandescent from his first appearance. Rodney created the role of Professor Turgeson in his new movie Back To School just to give him a cameo, which Sam turned into one of the film’s best moments.

Sam’s routines on television were legendary; David Letterman‘s classic introduction for him was “Brace yourselves. I’m not kidding. Please welcome Sam Kinison.”

Sam Kinison’s debut on Letterman.

But you had to see him live. I was fortunate enough to see Sam three times; the first was in a tiny basement club with black walls and ceiling and a tiny stage with a couple of lights. Didn’t matter – Sam brought his own flame. He hit the stage with more energy and power than many of the rock bands that played there; his incendiary performance singed the hair off every head in the crowd. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life; I laughed my ass off but felt like I was pinned to the chair by a gale force wind the entire time.

Thankfully there are a few recorded documents to preserve Sam’s greatness. He issued three albums (Louder Than Hell, Have You Seen Me Lately?, Leader of the Banned); a fourth (Live From Hell) was released posthumously. (There are also some rarities available at the official website.) There are several DVDs available containing performance footage from Sam’s shows;  Wild Child collects a few of them together at one low price.

Brother Sam, a reminiscence by Sam’s brother Bill, is an excellent read. While the film based upon the book (with Dan Fogler as Sam) has not yet surfaced, the latest word is that HBO has it scheduled for 2012, the twentieth anniversary of his death. (A similarly titled documentary was released in 2005 featuring Bill and Rodney Dangerfield introducing a series of clips from Sam’s concerts.)

When mercurial artists die young, sometimes their short careers become over-rated because all we have to judge them by are a few brief moments that we extrapolate. History tells us that no one stays on top forever; Jimi Hendrix would have made a disappointing album at some point and James Dean would have starred in a clunker. Sam died young but we already got to see the ups and downs; he had streaks of absolute brilliance and periods of wasted excess. We saw him get off the mat and stand up again.

But what Sam always had was an insatiable need to connect, and had he lived I’m certain he would have been one of our greatest social critics, for he had no sacred cows. We lost Sam and Bill Hicks within two years of each other, two fearless comics who threw the truth out there in very different ways, both sadly gone in their 30’s. But the legacy of Bill Hicks lives on, sparked again with the release of American this year. Hopefully Sam’s movie will help perpetuate his memory and introduce him to a whole generation of people who have grown up without him. R.I.P., Sam.

Visit Sam Kinsion‘s official website.

Sam’s Wikipedia page.

Craig Gass doesn’t look like Sam, but close your eyes and listen.


Filed under Comedy, Editorials

American: The Bill Hicks Story

Premiered at SXSW and soon on its way to YOU!

God Bless Bill Hicks. One of a kind. Finally we’ll get to see the film we’ve been waiting for. Reports out of SXSW say it’s as good as you hoped it would be.   

Watch the trailer for the film.   

WARNING: Be careful going to the Americanthemovie-dotcom website as something is amiss; your browser might be hijacked and rerouted to a fake virus scan ad. This was occurring March 17th and hopefully will be fixed ASAP.   

For the time being, safely follow the news at the official Bill Hicks website.   

“What you find is that they don’t want you to talk about ideas on television”.   

“That’s what being a patriot means…that you question the power.”   

From beyond the Great Beyond.

Hicky wiki 


December Boys got it bad. RIP, my friend.

As I was preparing this piece Wednesday evening I learned of Alex Chilton‘s death, reportedly of a heart attack, at 59. I’m just… stunned. I can’t process this right now and do his memory justice in an hour, but Friday’s TGIF will be my tribute to a man I grew up with through the power of music. The Box Tops, Big Star, and everything in-between and after…what a tragic loss

NY Times story

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