Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kentucky-based KFC is offering wrist corsages with a piece of fried chicken on it. And for an extra $20, they will have a guy playing banjo on the porch when you pick up your cousin for the prom.

A pornographic picture was on US Airways’ twitter account. “If you want to send someone a sex pic, you do it as a direct message, not on twitter for everyone to see, like an idiot,” said Anthony Weiner.

With the Chinese economy booming, Chinese travelers are gaining a reputation as ugly tourists with reportedly loud, rude and obnoxious behavior. Upon hearing this, tourists from Texas said; “Hey, get your own gig. We’re working this side of the street.”

Last night I saw the rock documentary – or rockumentary – that may have cured my insatiable love of rock documentaries.
“Year of the Horse” featuring Neil Young and Crazy Horse live from rough, rough footage from 1976 and 1996 – nothing in between, just those two tours. The ’76 clips are filmed with a black and white home movie camera and that is also how I think the concert sound is recorded, from the weak-ass mike inside the camera.
There was obviously just one concert camera used and it was shot like a 7-Eleven security camera during the concerts. The only word that comes to mind to describe everything from how Crazy Horse dressed, looked, talked, sounded and played is scruffy if you can leave out the cute part of scruffy and just leave the frayed, slob-like annoying part.
And this is from somebody who really likes both Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
The footage is beyond grainy, the interviews are DMV-like boring and the songs are almost unending, unrecognizable Fish/Grateful Dead stoner jams. Neil Young, one of the greatest rock stars ever, a well-deserved legend, has to be the worst live guitar soloist in history. He picks one note and bangs on it . . . FOREVER.
The most annoying person by far is “Pancho” Sampedro, the rhythm/backup guitarist. He wore a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt the entire tour. As poor as the film quality is, you can actually see Sampedro’s Jimi-T-shirt get dirtier as the tour goes on. Every interview question “Pancho” answers with the same pissed-off question: “How can you get to know our band by asking a bunch of lame questions?”
There are only three off-stage moments, one is just watching the band mill around in their tiny, tiny hotel rooms watching TV and the other two are both nasty fights about somebody messing up a song's arrangement. One fight takes place in the backstage dressing room, the other on the tour bus.
About the only song I really recognized – and it went on about five minutes too long - was probably my least favorite Neil Young song “Like a Hurricane.” Even speeding up through the repetitive play, this hour and a half long documentary took a solid half an hour from my life I won’t get back.
There are two camps in the “How bands should play their music in concerts” argument. There is the raw/jam school started by a combination of pot, acid and The Grateful Dead and there is the “Reproduce the album” school of the Eagles and U2. In one documentary, the endlessly pompous cape-wearing nerd, David Crosby, dismissed the Eagles’ style as mechanical and boring by making the universal sign of boredom: stifling a yawn.
But the other philosophy is both self-indulgent and arrogant. The thought seems to be: “We are so talented we will create a unique and artistic experience each time we play.” Horse puckies. As great a musician as he is, I would not want to hear Eric Clapton try and make up a song on the spot.
Saw the great Stevie Winwood play a concert at Humphries on the Bay here in San Diego a couple of years ago. Without any prior warning in the advertising, the entire concert was all new material. And as well played as it was, it sucked. We called him Stevie When-Would, as in “When would he play a freaking song we knew?”
The artist who answers the “How a band should play in concert” best is, you got it, the Boss. Springsteen gives you that awesome raw passion feel of live, but makes you feel like you got your money’s worth from listening to his albums by taking the effort of recreating the albums in concert.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse clearly have no interest in recreating the albums in concert.
In an article I read about Neil Young recording the other-worldly album, “Harvest” the recording occurs in two places: the Sunset Blvd. studio and a Topanga Canyon barn. When mixing the album, Young was heard to yell to the producer over and over, “More barn” and the magical, earthy results speak for themselves.
Sadly, “The Year of the Horse” features too much of what collects on the floor of a barn.  
The only positive thing I can say about “Year of the Horse” is that it could be the perfect cure for a parent to show their child if they want to dissuade said child from being a touring rock musician.  If this documentary features the part of Crazy Horse’s tours that were interesting enough to film, there is no possible way to imagine how boring the rest of the tour was.
The other possible use of this mess would be to teach film students about the hazards of choosing to eschew production values in favor of “keeping it real.” After watching this badly shot home movie trumped up as a documentary, you can forever replace the words gritty, honest and pure with cheap, lazy and boring.
If the two extremes in under-producing or over-producing a rock concert is “The Year of the Horse” and Martin Scorsese’s slick Rolling Stones concert, “Shine a Light,” I will take “Shine a Light” every day of the week and twice on Sundays.