Tag Archive | Turn Off The Dark

Gail’s 2011 Pop Culture Top Ten List!

Header for Top Ten List in Starburst

Now that we are just a couple of short weeks away from kicking off a spectacular New Year, full of art, music, pink things, bacon and free food, I would like to ask you, Dear Readers, how was your year? I hope it was awesome. As you can see from this Rad Blog you are now reading, I got to do some fun things in 2011, including going on my most fun vacation in many years when my sister and I took a 7 day Caribbean cruise, with three days in New Orleans on the front end. Holy cow, was that ever fun! Such adventuring! Such fine dining! Such ridiculous humidity! I’m still sweating.

What this all means is that it’s time again for the obligatory Year End Top Ten List, so, instead of going with the predictable, rote, yawnfest Top Ten CDs list I’ve decided to do more of a Pop Culture Mixed Bag, if you will. Because that is how I roll. Let’s get started.

PunkFunkRootsRock

Best Album: Manraze, PunkFunkRootsRock. Take guitarist Phil Collen from Def Leppard, team him up with drummer Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols and add Simon Laffy, the bassist from Phil’s former Glam band, Girl (because every power trio needs a bassist), and you’ve got a record that sounds, well, like a raunchier version of Def Leppard! We especially love Phil’s Lemmy impersonation on “Over My Dead Body.” Record of The Year! Read my interview with Paul Cook at This Link.

That’s Me in the Back Row: Third in from the Left

Best Game ShowThe Kostabi Show, where a panel of three Art critics and/or celebrities compete to title the works of modernist painter Mark Kostabi for cash awards, while a jury votes on which title suits the painting best. I had the opportunity to serve as a member of the jury for a taping this past summer and went home with $6 cash more than I had when I arrived, plus a Kostabi coffee table book signed by Mark. Bonus: free pizza! Kostabi, who is an accomplished pianist, also released a swell modern classical CD, The Spectre of Modernism, this year, which has been in heavy rotation on my iPod for ages now.

Dave Depper's Ram Project

Best Beatles Thing: Dave Depper’s Ram Project, an authentically covered version of Paul McCartney’s second solo album complete with off-key Linda-esque backing vocals! So good!

Nick Kent Book Cover

Best Rock Book: Nick Kent’s Apathy For The Devil, a memoir of the British rock critic’s life and career in the 1970s. Everyone knows that all of the best music happened the Seventies , so I will admit that, as both a writer and fan, I certainly would have loved to have lived that life myself, save for the messy heroin addiction part.

Metropolitan Museum Exhibit

Best Fashion-Related Museum Exhibit: Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Four words: Crown of Thorns Headdress. The Savage Beauty Exhibit set all kinds of ridiculous attendance records for the Met and was just insane. Insane!

Chris Connelly CD Cover Art

Best Homage to Eighties Alternative Goth: Chris Connelly’s Artificial Madness. David Bowie Meets Killing Joke plus Bauhaus sautéed lightly with Magazine and a little Ministry on the side. Homage!

Fix The Ministry Movie Poster

Best Rock Documentary: Fix, The Ministry Movie. Kids: Don’t Do Drugs. Or do a lot of them. One or the Other.

Best Seventies Southern Rock: The Sheepdogs, Five Easy Pieces EP. Bonus points to the band for their fan-winning appearance on the most recent season of Project Runway!

Reality TV (Competition): Top Chef, because Celebrity Chefs are the new Rock Stars!

Suckadelic Art Toy Universe

Pop Culture as Art: The Suckadelic Art Toy Universe Retrospective and Pop Up Store at Boo Hooray Gallery (NYC). The judges and critics on the second season of Bravo’s Work Of Art didn’t really dig the SuckLord’s artwork too much, but his parodies of Star Wars toys served up with a serious side of snark made for one of the most subversive, hilarious and memorable art shows of the year! Art!

Honorable Mention: Kasabian’s Velociraptor, MGMT Live at the Guggenheim, The Zombies at City Winery, Single Fare Please Swipe Again at Sloan Fine Art, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, Jeremy Dower’s Canis Mortuus Familiarus at Bold Hype Gallery, American Horror Story, Maurizio Catellan’s All Retrospective at The Guggenheim, Patti Smith at Webster Hall, The Wyld Olde Souls’ Ensoulment, Jeremy Fish Listen & Learn at Joshua Liner Gallery, Robot Chicken, Tosh.0.

Happy Holidaze and all the best for 2012!

This list previously appeared in a slightly abbreviated form on the East Portland Blog Dot Com.

Must See Show: Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark

Julie Taymor is an extremely literal-minded director. That much is in evidence if you’ve seen the film Across the Universe, a Taymor-directed 2006 release in which she visually interpreted, word-for-word, a cache of The Beatles’ most popular songs in order to tell the most simple-minded love story imaginable. Across the Universe, while visually stunning, was nevertheless mostly a critical and commercial bomb – a celebration of style over substance that failed to resonate with audiences despite its indelible tie to the Greatest Band Ever. Because, boring. It’s not all that surprising then that Taymor’s latest Broadway production, the now infamous Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark has become the most polarizing show currently gracing the Great White Way. Aside from the innumerable injuries to its actors, which have helped keep the show in previews for longer than any other stage production in history, Turn off the Dark is heavily flawed in ways that have earned it the distinction of being the Worst Reviewed Broadway Musical of All Time. How does that even happen?

This is an interesting case of negative publicity being good for business, as the show continues to sell out at each performance and gross millions of dollars weekly. Personally, the more bad press I read on the show, and the more that sketch comedy shows like Saturday Night Live parodied its pitfalls, the more I knew I just had to see it, which I finally did last night. And you know what? I absolutely loved it. Spider-Man: Turn of the Dark is a show with its visual “Oh My God! I Can’t Believe They Just Did That!” factor so far off the charts, unless you are in a coma, you almost can help but be entertained. When people tell you that this show has stuff in it that’s never been done before and that you won’t see anywhere else, they aren’t exaggerating. As far as the sets (which look like they’ve been lifted from films like Inception or Dark City), costumes (Grace Jones would be jealous), visual effects (Spider-Man goes to Hell, or something like that) and stunts (Assloads of Flying! Flying!), it’s by far the best stage production I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean, drugs are completely unnecessary, because you will not even believe some of the jaw-dropping, perfectly amazing things you’ll see. I was so wildly entertained, I didn’t even (hardly) mind the really bad parts, which are described in the next paragraph.

When you buy your tickets to see Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark (which you will, because you just have to see it), don’t expect much of a plot: the plotline is either confounding or non-existent. If you’ve seen the first Spider Man movie starring Toby McGuire, or if you know anything about Spider Man’s “creation story” at all, that’s all you need to know. Also be aware that there are some genuinely mind-numbingly boring parts in the first act. You will know when they are happening, because you will be all like “I wish they would fly around the theater again, because that was awesome!” Also, while the actor’s singing voices are all really top-shelf, despite its musical compositions being credited to U2’s Bono and The Edge, Turn off the Dark is perhaps unique for being a musical with zero memorable songs. I swear, the only hook that stayed in my head at all is the reoccurring, three chord electric guitar riff that indicates when Spider Man is about to kick someone’s ass; you know, it’s the bit used in every radio and TV advertisement for the play. Now, that’s an ear worm if there ever was one. It’s in my head right now, as a matter of fact. Spider Man!

Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, starring Reeve Carney, is currently in previews at the Foxwoods Theater on 42nd Street just West of 7th Avenue (steps from all the major subway lines). It is set to officially open on June 14th, but who knows if that will actually happen. I suggest you try to get tickets right now, before they close it down for a re-tool some time in April. I got tickets on Gold Star for $90 each including fees. It was totally worth it.


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