Thursday, May 24, 2007

What If? (from Kevin)

WHAT IF...?"

I have the below photo on my desk. I look at it every day. I talk to it sometimes and then will myself to hear the response. Mostly, though, I think

“What if…?”

It’s the one hole that — no matter how I try to fill it — gets deeper and wider.

“What if…?”Our mother died when I was 15.

(And in the interest of full disclosure, that first beer Trip mentioned was consumed in the St. Denis graveyard — behind the D’Avella mausoleum. Joe Maguire, Steve Conners, Paul Finegan, Jim Meehan and I split a twelve pack of warm Gennesee Cream Ale. Hopefully, God will take into consideration that we took the empties with us.)

Like the rest of my siblings, I have a family that knows next to nothing of the most influential person in my life. Sure, I tell them stories. Yes, they see pictures. Every time my daughter amazes me, the deeper the hole gets. Every anniversary I celebrate with Lisa, the wider the hole gets. What if … they had met?

There are holes everywhere. Everyone has their own. I’ll learn from yours if you learn from mine.

Give up the grudges.
Make someone’s day.
Tell Mom you love her.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Wish I Could Have Met Her

May 24, 1979 was three days after my college graduation, a couple of weeks before Satch's high school graduation and, incredibly enough, 2 and 1/2 years after 15 year old Kevin's first beer. Our mom's gone 28 years now, we've all lived much longer without her than her, and now we've all got our own kids (and soon grandkid) to worry about. So take a moment Thursday and remember... remember the good things in your someone "On Top of The World"...take your son out to dinner...cause that's what I'm gonna do.

"I Wish I Could Have Met Her"? That's what both my wife and son said to me tonight. Me too, Sean and Cathy, me too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Teek's Top-Notch Talkies

Romantic comedy… coming of age…great script – any two of those three will lure me into seeing a movie. Kevin’s blatant theft of Outside Providence as one of his sleepers (containing all three of the above, by the way) left me with these five relatively unsung flicks that I’d recommend without reservation.

Crossing Delancey – In this gentle look at worlds colliding (uptown and downtown New York), Reigert is regular-guy, handball-playing, pickle-selling Sam, who spurns an over the top matchmaker (a face-melting Sylvia Miles) until she offers to set him up with Sam’s long-time cruch Izzy (Amy Irving), a self-sophisticated but lonely upscale bookstore manager.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cringe… as Sam suffers one indignity after another as the well-meaning but clueless Izzy keeps finding unique but unintentional ways of humiliating him. But through it all, his grace and dignity remain intact. Irving sparkles, but Reigert steals the show… the best romantic comedy you’ve never seen.

Night Shift – The greatest Keaton role of all (except maybe Annie Hall or The General) has Michael Keaton with apparently carte blanche to go bonkers. His manic, hysterical Billy Blaze is a star turn that meshes perfectly with Henry Winkler’s wonky, henpecked Chuck to create what is indisputably the greatest of all the “morgue turns into whorehouse” movies. Whether it’s “the birds, birds, it’s the birds” or “luuuuuuuuuuuuvbrokers” or “to shun, to say no, doesn’t even belong in this word” or “do they have that?” or “we got teenage girls” or “this is Chuck telling Bill to SHUT UP” or “that Barney Rubble, what an actor” or “4K!” or “feed mayonnaise right to the tuna… call Starkist”, this movie is eminently quotable and more fun than watching my brother Kevin drive.

Three Days of the Condor – Immensely satisfying cold war thriller where Robert Redford and his coworkers read books to decipher any nefarious plots that could undermine U.S. world domination. Redford steps out for lunch and returns to find the whole office has been assassinated. Apparently Redford has stumbled onto something… but what and who can he trust? Features great support by a Max van Sydow as cold-blooded killer for hire and Cliff Robertson as his CIA contact. Make plenty of popcorn for this one.

You Can Count On Me – Just a great story that enables Laura Linney to express two sides of unconditional love – for her 8 year old son (a sweet Rory Culkin) and troubled younger brother (a heartbreaking Mark Ruffalo). There’s no easy solutions and each scene feels totally believable and heartfelt. If she didn’t, Laura Linney should have won acting awards for this one.

Keeping The Faith – The plot sounds like the setup to a great dirty joke – there was a priest, a rabbi and a beautiful girl. But it’s actually a set up for a screwball farce, a three-way romantic comedy. Jenna Elfman has never been sexier - you can see why both Edward Norton (the priest) and Ben Stiller (the rabbi) fall for her… and my gawd, those legs! Norton, Stiller and Elfman are childhood best pals whose worlds are turned upside by the return home of uber-successful, uber-breathtaking Elfman. The two men of the cloth then battle for her affection and of course, hilarity ensues. Rent the thing,

Satch's Summer Sleepers

Picking five movies to list as great summer rentals is always a good time. Mostly because you can start an argument or find a new best friend all because of your leanings towards a certain movie. Trying to stay away from the obvious [The Princess BrideThe Goodbye GirlThe Last Waltz], here’s a list of five.

The Big Clock (1948) To start, this choice is not me trying to be a 'cooler-than-you film guy' – that’s Kev’s job. This is a movie that I accidentally came across on Turner Classic Movies. To start, you get amazing performances by Ray Milland, Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Sullivan. The basic story line goes: Crime magazine editor (Milland) is framed by publisher (Laughton) for a murder the boss committed. Then Milland has to prove who did the murder as the cops are getting closer to naming him as the main suspect. Sound a little familiar? There was a remake of it [with military overtones thrown in] in 1987 with Kevin Costner & Gene Hackman [“No Way Out”]. But for my money, stick with the original, if for no other reason then to see Harry Morgan [That’s M*A*S*H’s Col. Potter, to me & you] as the main henchman.

His Girl Friday (1940)It’s got Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, what more do you need to know? OK – how about this: with the rapid fire dialog, cutting edge wit, and underlying sexual tension, this movie set the standard for TV shows like “Moonlighting” and “Scrubs” and any number of movies that you’ll most likely rent this summer.

Excess Baggage (1997)Let’s get this out in the open – I got such a kick out of this movie that I called my brother Trip and told him to rent it. He did. He hated it. There ya go. But I still stand by it. It’s a light piece of fluff with Benicio Del Toro as a car thief who steals a high end ride that happens to have Alicia Silverstone in the trunk [she was going to stage her own kidnapping – Benicio just happens to steal the wrong car] and Christopher Walken doing his best Christopher Walken impression as the ‘Uncle’ who has to get her back. What can I say??? It made me laugh!

Hidalgo (2004)Viggo Mortensen portrays true story of Frank Hopkins, a western cowboy who travels to Arabia to enter The Ocean of Fire--a 3,000 mile survival race across the Arabian Desert that had been held yearly for centuries. This race was a challenge that had been restricted to the finest Arabian horses ever bred. In 1890, a wealthy sheik invited an American [Frank Hopkins], and his horse [Hidalgo] to enter the race. Hopkins had once been billed as the greatest rider the West had ever known. The Sheik [Ladies - It’s Omar Sharif for goodness sake!!!] puts this claim to the test, pitting the American cowboy and his mustang, Hidalgo, against the world's greatest Arabian horses and Bedouin riders. For Frank, the Ocean of Fire becomes not only a matter of pride and honor, but a race for his very survival as he and his horse attempt the impossible. I love this movie!!

Powwow Highway (1989)Kathy Li posted this about “Powwow Highway” in IMDB: Buddy Red Bow [played by one of my faves: A Martinez] is struggling, in the face of persecution, by greedy developers and political in-fighting, to keep his nation on a Montana Cheyenne Reservation financially solvent and independent. Philbert [played by Gary Farmer in one of the best performances you will ever see] a simple-minded friend of Buddy's, ardently pursues Native American/First Nation wisdom and lore wherever he can find it--even on Bonanza--in order to earn his warrior name. He's even got his war pony, Protector: a beat-up old wreck of a car. Buddy's sister has been arrested in Santa Fe, and together Buddy and Philbert set off on a road trip to look after her kids and go bail her out. However, Bonnie's arrest has something strange about it as her friend Rabbit points out. As the miles roll by, Philbert's faith challenges Buddy's hard-edged view of the world (and occasional bout of reckless violence), and together they face the realities and dreams of being Cheyenne in the modern-day US as they fight to free Bonnie and her children and elude the Feds.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Trip (known aliases include Teek, tkidsean) asked me to issue a public disclaimer/apology before he posts his five movie recommendations (I have no idea what the hold-up is with slacker Satch holed up in his NYC lair.)
Trip would like me to publicly acknowledge that I filched, purloined, fleeced, made off with and otherwise ransacked his list by including Outside Providence in mine. Although I maintain my innocence — in the interest of forward blog motion, I hereby fulfill his request:
Trip, my apologies — I shoplifted the pooty.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Rent these movies — you'll thank me, I swear. Unless, of course, you hate them — in which case, you're just weird.
My slacker bros. will be adding their two cents directly.

...And Justice for All. From 1972 to 1975, Al Pacino had one of film’s greatest runs ever — The Godfather, Scarecrow, Serpico, The Godfather II and Dog Day Afternoon. I beg your pardon but Jesus H. Christ on a Popsicle stick!
Four flat-out classics and a mysteriously neglected gem (Scarecrow) in just under four years. If you know it’s rival, feel free to fill me in.
After Dog Day Afternoon in ‘75, Pacino did one movie in the next four years — the underwhelming Bobby Deerfield in 1977. Why he slowed down is ... well ... I’m sure that information is available somewhere but, frankly, I don’t care enough to look it up. The point here is that he came roaring back in ‘79 with ... And Justice For All — his last great performance until ‘92 and Glengarry Glen Ross.
Pacino plays Arthur Kirkland, an idealistic Baltimore lawyer who tries to navigate the insanities of the legal system. The movie is an immensely entertaining mishmash of drama, romantic comedy and soap opera held together by great acting. Pacino is at his fire-breathing yet endearing best alongside a cavalcade of first-rate scene stealers — Jeffrey Tambor, Larry Bryggman (you don’t know him but you know him), the late great Jack Warden, Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior to most of us), Craig T. Nelson and Christine Lahti. Even Pacino’s acting guru Lee Strasberg shows up as his star pupil’s grandfather.
If that’s not enough, it has one of the greatest, most shamelessly theatrical endings ever. It’s one of those movies that, no matter when I come across it, I watch it through to the end. What higher praise can you give?

The Pope of Greenwich Village Remember when Mickey Rourke and Eric Robertswere the future of Hollywood?
Okay. But they were. In the early 80’s they were two of the coolest, most captivating actors going. In 1984, The Pope of Greenwich Village caught them together at the top of their game. A slice-of-life/heist dramedy set in ... well, for God’s sake already ... it tells the story of two hard-luck, less-than genius, small-time hoods — Charley (Rourke) and his albatross of a cousin Paulie(Roberts).
For the NYC atmosphere and soundtrack alone this movie is great. Add to that a spectacular lesson in screen cool from Rourke, an indelible nutbird performance by Roberts and the iconic “thumb” scene and, man, the popcorn’ll be gone before you know it. Daryl Hannah is very good as well — I swear.
And you get to watch an Oscar-nominated performance by the incomparable Geraldine Page.
I can’t tell you how many lines from this movie have woven themselves into regular conversation with my two brothers and my friends. Now I’m gonna go bang around the village for a few hours , I need a dose of sanity in my life.

In America With apologies to Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan has brought the Irish experience to film better than any other filmmaker. The short list includes My Left Foot, In The Name of the Father and The Field.
However, he had to bring the Irish to America to make his greatest film yet. Sheridan’s semi-autobiographical In America illuminates the Irish immigrant experience with vibrant humor, crushing tragedy and haunting inspiration.
When aspiring Irish actor Johnny (Paddy Considine) and his wife Sarah (Oscar-nominated Samantha Morton) bring their two daughters to New York, they land in Hell’s Kitchen in the middle of a brutal heat wave. They struggle, they fight, they meet the mysterious Mateo (Oscar-nominated Djimon Hounsou) who’s known as “the man who screams.”
Mateo lives in the same broken-down tenement and becomes an integral part of the family’s experience. To say anything more would screw the pooch for you.
This film will move you. It’ll stick. For days.

Outside Providence Alec Baldwin is a hair-trigger bully who ain’t being nominated for any Father of the Year awards any time soon.
And he’s in this movie.
And he’s great — as a hair-trigger bully who ain’t being nominated for any Father of the Year awards any time soon.
This quietly hilarious and ultimately heartfelt effort comes from the otherwise turd-joke-filled mind of Peter Farrelly (and I love turd jokes ... and the Farrelly Bros.)
Shawn Hatosy is perfect as Timothy Dunphy, the pothead fuck-up son to Baldwin’s working-class, ass-kicking dad (think Ralph Kramden on a bender and living in New England). My opinion of Hatosy’s performance has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that he invited my wife and I to his July 4th party one year or that he is currently reading one of our screenplays. I think we all know I’m above that sort of pandering.
P.S. Shawn — My daughter wants to go to private school. And I love you.
P.S.S. — Most critics hated this movie — which is probably the best reason to rent it. So rent it.

Thief Michael Mann has directed alot of great movies. This is his first feature film ever --- and it’s my favorite. Thief is another movie that has infiltrated my mode of communication. It’s rare that I go more than a week or so without blurting out a quote or two.
James Caan plays Frank, a master thief with a checkered past, trust issues and the time-honored desire to get out of this lousy racket. So he goes into business with Leo (Robert Prosky as avuncular Pure Walking Evil.)
Every subplot feels just right and every detail and piece of dialogue makes an impression. Even Tangerine Dream’s music is good! That’s how goddamn good this movie is — it makes Tangerine Dream sound good!
This is James Caan’s greatest moment on the big screen. Is it his best performance? How the hell do I know? Is it his coolest? Fuckin’ A, Wally.
Jim Belushi hit his highwater mark here — in 1981.
It’s Dennis Farina’s first movie.
Willy friggin’ Nelson is in it, too. And he is aces.
Plus there’s the adoption agency scene with Caan and Tuesday Weld (who was smokin’ dude, and is on the cover of Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend album, for those of you looking to make a few quick dollars in a bar one night). And the diner scene. And the construction company scene. And the ...

Badder Than Bo Diddley's Electric Guitar

After reading TKid’s “Teenage Kicks” ramble about the ‘Americana’ music movement, it made me realize that there are a lot of great ‘lost’ songs that need to be heard again. So, dear reader / listener. I remind you about [or introduce you to]:

My Baby She's Allright

She's a long, tall drink of water
Badder than Bo Diddley's electric guitar
Badder than anything this whole year
I don't like bragging but I can't help myself, well...

Long and lean like a Cadillac
Supercharged like the Batmobile
She drives me into the woods
When she gets behind the wheel

In the deserts, in the hottest fires, in the houses and over the seas
In the cities, in the telephone wires, they all
talk about what she means to me, 'cause...

My baby, she's allright …

She's got that certain something
Man, I hope you know what I'm talking about
If you've ever had a lover who was really true
Just walking down the street or when you turn out the lights, 'cause...

My baby, she's allright …

And when she kisses me, I hear the Drells or is it T. Rex?
I could hang my arm out the window, but around my baby is where I'll be...

I know you must have heard about her
You know everything they say is true
I suppose you know what she means to me
And if you don't then what's the matter with you?

Haven't you been listening?
Or did you hear what I just said?
If someone tried to show me something better
I'd have to say I'm not interested, because...

My baby, she's allright …

Friday, May 4, 2007

Song of the Year (so far)

"When Irish Eyes Are Burning" by the Ike Reilly Assassination is a bracing, punk pop rush that sounds like Peter Case crossed with The Pogues... and I can't get enough of it.

Their new cd We Belong to the Staggering Evening comes out 5/8.
Here's a link to a great mp3 blog where you can "Irish Eyes".... enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Trip's View:

Passion Is No Ordinary Word

How long does passion for music last? While the dust gathers on Johnny’s Dance Band, Chicago, Wire Train and even recent passing fancies like The Slip and Starsailor, many albums and songs stay rooted in my consciousness. I recently played Ray Charles’ 1962 release Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music and was knocked out not only by the exquisite craft but also the exuberance and timelessness of the performances. I still play Every Picture Tells A Story, Heat Treatment and Late For The Sky at least once a month. The unbridled enthusiasm and passion I have for those records was formed during the “sweetheart years” – ages 13 to 25. I almost think it’s impossible for any music to ever mean as much to you as the music you discover and absorb during the “sweetheart years”.

So what’s the big deal? Who cares? Well I’ve always wondered whether the passion for music fades. And I think the answer is … it’s up to you. But a recent visit with my Uncle Denny (who, in a karmic ripoff of epic proportions, lost his sister in February, lost his wife of over 50 years shortly after that, and three days after that suffered a mini-stroke from which he’s currently recuperating in rehab), I found that passion not only lasts, but thrives into the “golden years”. My uncle had a boombox and cd case with about 30 cds (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Time-Life comps, Ray Conniff) that he was keeping company with. As our talk to turned to music, and his love of it, he didn’t seem like he had lost one bit of the passion he developed over sixty years ago. And that absolutely thrilled me. And that in turn led to his search (and now my life’s mission) to find a recording of “Almost in Your Arms (Love Theme from Houseboat)”, sung in the movie by Sophia Loren. He talked about that song the way I talk about Bruce Springsteen or The Hold Steady, like he knew the secret to hearing great music. And that secret is….

So keep the faith, music nerds, and remember – passion is no ordinary word.

And if you’ve got a copy of “Almost in Your Arms”, please contact me.


Satch's view:

OK … it's Friday night, and I've shared about six pitchers of Stella Atrios with a few friends. Mostly, we spent the night talking about music. And, in this conversation, I was the elder statesman of the group. I spoke [at great length] about some of the great moments that I was lucky enough to be part of in the history of what will be remembered as the rock and roll era.

I saw The Faces perform live. And I will stand on Keef Richards’ coffee table in my cowboy boots and shout out the highest heavens that this band kicked the living shit out of every other band that was traveling the boards in the early 70's. To this day, every show that I have ever been part of [as a performer] has been to try to live up to the legacy that Woody, Mac, Kenny, Ronnie & The Mod had set the standard for. Last forever? Damn straight it'll last forever.

Then, later in that same decade, Bruce and the E Street Band exploded on to the Tower Theater stage in Philadelphia and I knew that my life was changed forever. From “10th Ave Freeze Out” to the almost uncomprehending story/song that was the cover of The Animals: “It's My Life” throughout “Pretty Flamingo” and “Spirits In The Night” - there will never be another night of music like the one I witnessed in Upper Darby as a 14 year old kid. Last forever … hell … these shows grow in importance, legend and folklore with each passing year.

Passion? I've watched Townshed, in musical ecstasy, smash his Les Paul, The Clash take over the Bond Theater like it was a pub in London, Joan Jett prove that three chords are all you really need, The David Johansen Group play like there was no reason to believe that tomorrow would ever show up, and Jason and The Scorchers play to an almost empty house [due to a wild snow storm, not lack of interest] like it was a sold out show at Madison Square Garden. Passion??? Why else would these folks give us everything that they had to give?

Every time that I've ever walked on stage I've carried the passion with me that I can not truly believe that anyone else on this planet shares the same vision of rock and roll that I do … and hell … since they do … it was my job to make sure that they got everything that was coming to them. And every time that I've ever seen a band like Reckless Kelly or The Hold Steady, I'm stunned that there are still true believers out there that are trying their damnedness to keep the flame alive.

But, more than anything else, I realize, that when you sit around with a few friends, sharing a few pitchers of your favorite beer, friends of all ages, talking with passion and love for music that was recorded not only forty years ago, but in some cases, forty days ago, that music will last forever, as long as there are folks with a passion to search out and find music that gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Will music last forever? Will the passion never end?


Now go out tomorrow and buy two CDs that you SHOULD own:
One, a classic [Holy crap, take your pick, there are so many to choose from: Blood On The Tracks, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Every Picture Tells A Story or London Calling. Or, two, take on chance on one of the many new bands that could really use your support: The Hold Steady, The Fratellis, M. Ward or … well … anyone … pick up a damn magazine … read some reviews … and just pick one!!!

Again, I say, will music last forever? Will the passion never end?

You bet your sweet ass it will!


Kevin's View:

Music has the power to let human beings leave things unspoken. They just become understood. It defines countless moments of a life. It makes specific that which, without the music, becomes a faded recollection.

At this time, I refer you to Shrevie in Diner.

One thousand one. One thousand two. One thousand three.

Ok, if the reference didn’t take, do yourself a favor and rent the friggin’ thing. In the meantime:

Anyone with older siblings has been influenced by their tastes in music. With my two older brothers, I was not so much influenced as I was swept up by a tidal wave of belief that music was — next to farting loudly at the most inappropriate time — the most important thing in the world.

Once they hit me with “Gasoline Alley”, “The Love You Save” and “I’m So Bored (With The USA)” (not to mention “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero”, “Heartbeat, It’s a Love Beat”, and “The Streak”) it was all over.

It’s the moments that make the music matter the most. Will I ever forget the 1st time I heard the opening guitar of “I Will Follow”? Or the first time I saw Scott play live? Or my first date with my wife? That was Steve Earle and the Dukes at The Ritz in NYC in 1988. He closed the deal for me with the greatest version of “I Love You Too Much” he’s ever played. Thank you, strangely balding national treasure.

Because of Trip and Scott, music matters to me. It probably would have anyway but it would not be such a trusted friend and traveling companion.

I had the Jackson 5 phase. The Neil Young phase (nod to Steve and Fins and Mrs. Fins: the night my mother passed away, Mrs. Fins let her 15-year-old son and his two best friends get blind drunk and warble “Helpless” into the wee hours.) The inevitable Doors phase. The fleeting Grateful Dead flirtation. The drug-happy sordid affair with Traffic. I got right with God and music in my U2, REM and Alarm phase.

Through sheer force of fanatical will, Trip and Scott recruited me into Springsteen nation. I am also a card-carrying borderline socialist Steve Earle nut. Finally, I am head-over-heels in love w/ the Paddies — Shane, Van, Sinead, Waterboys, Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys. If there are uillean pipes, I’m easier than Paris Hilton on X.

Music comes down to moments. And emotion. And the need to share it. And discover it. Two months ago it was Lucero, the Format and The Hold Steady. Two days ago it was Arcade Fire. Can’t wait to see what May brings.

I’ll leave you with my favorite moment in the history of rock and roll. 1997 at Downtime in NYC. In one of the valleys of his adventurous, ongoing music career, Scott ordered the band off the stage. He then publicly, heartbreakingly contemplated his musical fate by killing the audience with the most emotionally fraught version of “Here Comes A Regular” I’ve ever heard.