Tag Archives: Ice-T

Rock and Rap Confidential

Yep, it used to be Rock and Roll Confidential. Times change.

Still an amazing read, and it’s free by email, although a donation to the tip jar wouldn’t be a bad thing. Interesting pieces, good links, some decent truths…albeit skeptical, but really, what truths aren’t?

You can read the classic Steve Albini piece about major label deals, often reprinted as “Some of your friends are probably already this fucked“. In a recurring column called “Why Do We Need The Music Industry?” you can read comments about the state of the industry from Tom Petty and Tommy Womack and Ice-T.

And there’s often a brilliant piece, like the essay that Holly Gleason wrote about the late Steve Popovich. I thought I paid him a nice tribute, but Gleason’s essay blew me out of the water:

I’m in a shitty hotel room, chattering and chilled to the bone. I’ve driven all day, and it doesn’t even matter. Sometimes you do what you have to do – even when it doesn’t make sense to the people that know you. It’s not irrational. I know exactly why I’m here — shivering, waiting for the heat to actually kick in. And it’s not just the funeral for an iconoclast with a huge heart and bigger balls, even though that’s why I’m here. It is about the world in which we live, the vineyard in which I’ve toiled going on thirty years. It’s the way I spent my life and the beliefs I’ve held. Especially at a time when doing the right thing, fighting for greatness, believing the music matters is at best quaint, but most likely is viewed – no matter what “they” say – as chump stuff.
Steve Popovich, who passed away June 8th in Murfreesboro, TN, would disagree. He’d tell you to fight for what’s right, to stand up for what’s different, believe in the music, not the business or the politics or the egos… to know great, no matter the guise, and make sure it gets heard. Steve Popovich was that kind of guy. That’s how he lived… right til he died.
That kinda guy… big, bottomless heart. True believer. Fearless advocate for what he believed. Tireless in pursuit of great music – be it progressive polka bands like Brave Combo or Michael Jackson, Boston or David Allen Coe. When Meatloaf sold 200,000 copies of his first album and Epic Records informed him they’d done all they could do, Popovich went market-by-market and created a sensation, making Bat Out of Hell the biggest selling record that year.
That’s the thing about true hearts and big dreams… they don’t let go. They’ll haunt you. Take hold and keep holding. Rarer than rubies, when you encounter one, you never forget. They will make you do things you can’t believe you’re doing…Like driving 10 hours dead exhausted at the end of a record launch and an Oscar winner on a red carpet… to sit in a church where I know barely anyone… to honor a legacy so many would never understand. Because it’s just not done that way. Not any more. Not to the point where people even understand why it matters.And yet, if you know, experienced, saw or even glimpsed Steve Popovich in action, there was no way you could turn away. How could you? To see passion, raw and unfiltered, 250 proof and looking for matches… that was the kind of thing that left people speechless.Only Steve Popovich would never settle for that. He wouldn’t let people stand by mute. He’d cajole and engage and encourage. He wanted you to know… for sure… but he wanted to know. All about you. And every single you in the room, the street, the world. What did you think? need? feel? what makes you thrill? ache? rage?

And that’s just an excerpt. Things like this get emailed to subscribers all the time. Email me if you want the whole piece, because it’s not on the website yet. Or subscribe for free and ask them to send it to you. It’s a great read. It gives me faith that in an age of content, there are still writers who give a shit.

Kudos, Holly Gleason. Gotta love someone who once wrote “…in the end, there is no substitute. You can talk all you want, but you either rock or you don’t.” And that’s why you come here, right? For the occasional moment when I earn your support with a decent essay? So today I repay your faith by asking you to sign up – for free – and double your odds.

As of today, 900 posts in the Prescription, and I’m still going. Please keep visiting. I’ll try to get my batting average higher.

Rock and Rap Confidential

Holly Gleason’s website

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Filed under Editorials, Music

A Boy and His Log

So the Pope says, "Do you have an eraser? I wrote..."

So the Pope says, "Do you have an eraser? I wrote..."

If I had a bucket list, there would be one less item on it, because last night I finally got to see Otto & George live on stage in a comedy club. And although one of them is made of wood, trust me when I tell you that two minutes into the show no one believed they weren’t watching a foul-mouthed midget go postal on everyone, including the shy guy on stage trying to calm him down.

Brooklyn-born Otto Petersen started out working a normal ventriloquist act, playing clubs and parties and busking in the park. Changing the material to an X-rated routine was both a survival tactic to get work and a stroke of genius. And I don’t care how prepared you think you might be for a ribald puppet, but the twisted, filthy smut that spews out of George’s mouth is as shocking as it is hilarious, maybe the most politically incorrect show on the planet. Nothing is sacred, not celebrities, politicians, alternate lifesyles, nationalities, religions and most especially anyone sitting within shouting distance from the stage.

Otto and George had just played the night before with John Valby, the ribald piano player who is especially popular in upstate New York. I did not see that show, but apparently a few people seated nearby had and returned for a full evening of puppet magic. I don’t know whether some of the other attendees were expecting Jeff Dunham, but between the act’s reputation and the disclaimers, there was no way you could walk into this gig expecting to see anything other than a demented ventriloquist with a foul-mouthed puppet. And while I saw many people laughing uncontrollably at even the most offensive material, there were also a couple who were obviously in way over their heads sitting slack-jawed, mouths agape, like they were being mentally raped.

Sorry, I have no sympathy for those people. If you pay to see an act like this you know what you’re getting. Filthy, sexually oriented jokes that are that much more hilarious because they’re coming from the mouth of a puppet. Otto baits the audience, and you can see his lips moving, but people don’t even make eye contact with him because they’re fixated on George. Hell, I know that’s Otto doing the voice and I’m still staring at the puppet the entire time. (I’ve seen clips where people argue with George!)

What makes these guys great – and yes, I refer to them as two people – is that Otto rarely speaks directly to the audience. He lets George do all the dirty work. George looks as demented as he sounds, and relentlessly attacks Otto as well as the audience. So while Otto is trampling on the sacred cows of every gender, race, creed and lifestyle, he looks like he’s the victim, not the perpetrator. It’s a brilliant idea perfectly executed.

And for those who might snark that his ventriloquist skill is lacking because his lips do move, well…you’re missing the point. It’s one thing to see a guy drink a glass of water while throwing his voice, but you know all the time that it’s a parlor trick. Watching Otto & George, you’re convinced that a demented midget is onstage holding the room hostage. And that’s just what he did through two hour-long sets that I couldn’t reprint a word of even if I wanted to. One of the funniest shows I have ever seen; do not miss them if they perform near you.

Johnny O

Host and opening act Johnny O was flat out hilarious. I don’t expect much more from the M.C. than to make the time pass quickly, make me laugh once or twice and get me to the headliner. I’ll admit that when this middle-aged guy from Parsippany hit the stage I had no expectations, but my ribs ached by the time he was done. Irreverant social humor that was unilaterally funny, whether breaking balls about Italians and their lawn ornaments or the social caste differences between Yankee and Met fans. A bag full of great one-liners, sight gags and dead-on impressions of Sean ConneryIce-T, Nipsey Russell (a killer closer) and Bernie Mac. And an impression of Jesse Ventura coaching his son about birth control? Folks, this was fucking gold. This guy needs to headline and I need to find out where so I can see him again.

The worst thing you can probably tell a comic is “I’m staying for the second show“, but Johnny O juggled his routine a bit and reworked some lines; Otto probably altered his by a third. Frankly, they were both so funny I probably could have watched them deliver the same material word for word.

The smaller opening crowd was actually more attentive and responsive. The later crowd, a bit younger, contained the requisite wiseass who thinks he’s funnier than the comic, the talkative drunk at the front table, the group of twelve sometimes focusing on each other instead of being part of the overall crowd. This is nothing new for a working comic, and both handled it well. And I don’t blame the comics – they were nailing the material and rifling the self-deprecating callbacks when things didn’t go as well as expected. They had the follow-up ready for any punch line that fizzled. They just didn’t get back what they put out there in the second show. Sure, maybe a Joe Pignatano reference plays better in New York City than elsewhere, but if a Bernie Mac imitation is too deep for you, maybe you need to get out more…just somewhere else. But with enough of us in the audience who were gasping for air, they did what professionals do – play to those of us who were actually getting the subtleties.

The Comedy Club in Webster is a great space – perfect sightlines, great sound and lighting, not a bad seat in the house. The food is good, the drinks reasonably priced and the servers attentive and friendly without being cloying. In short, it’s a great comedy room that deserves a great comedy audience. I know a lot of us walked away tonight with sore ribs and big smiles; hopefully Otto and Johnny got enough of a response from the core of both crowds to make up for the sprinkling of cluelsss ones.

Of course, George couldn’t be placated. “Go to Home Depot”, he told me, “and get a rope in aisle 2 and a stepladder in aisle 7 and do it right in the store! Kill yourself!!”

Otto and George2

Otto & George on Letterman

Otto & George website

Otto & George on MySpace

Johnny O. on MySpace

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Filed under Comedy, Reviews