Today I saw Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work at Bethesda Row Cinema. The film shows a year in the life of Joan Rivers. It was funny, provocative and at times emotional.
The film details Joan’s highs and lows and her insatiable desire to stay relevant. Throughout the film you witness the smart, quick witted and brave Joan Rivers. You also learn that she is very insecure, self deprecating, (which drives her comedy) stubborn and insanely driven.
It was pretty fascinating to see someone at her age that won’t accept defeat and although the nature of her comedy is raw and unflinching she is a very vulnerable person.
There is lots of good stuff in the movie, everything is discussed from her various plastic surgeries, what caused the ending of her relationship with Johnny Carson to the suicide of her husband Edgar. On a personal side they show the affection she has for her grandson and the trying relationship she has with her daughter Melissa.
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work is both a celebration of the never say die attitude of a comedic icon and a cautionary tale to young performers about starting out in show business. Check it out!
I am not easily impressed and I am a cynical and a sarcastic twit. Those personality traits alone makes me think twice about attending live shows and I love live music, but, it’s not cool when you spend your hard earned moolai on some half assed performance because the artist couldn’t translate the energy of the album to the stage or they simply didn’t give a fuck enough to put on a good show. The last show I attended was Raekwon at the 9:30 Club I think (it has been awhile). That show was an utterly miserable cluster fuck for lack of more p.c. description. It was so bad; I left before the show ended. Capone of Capone-N-Noriega fame was on the bill, CNN put out a great album about 15 years ago and that was pretty much it for Capone. His partner Noriega went on to modest success. Dude was absolutely the worst live performer I think I've ever seen in my life. I was shell-shocked when I left that show. I entered myself into rap show rehab, I am still detoxing. I noticed that I enjoy rock or soul music shows better than hip-hop shows nowadays, which brings me to Jill Scott and Maxwell’s show last night at the Verizon center.
My homie and I left the house around 6pm to make it to the show that started at 7pm. I was dressed casually in Jeans, black tee, NY Yankees cap and black Jordan #9’s. My homie was business casual, black slacks, black blouse, and black comfortable slides (all black everything). We hopped on the red line rode for three stops and made it to the Chinatown/Gallery Place metro station where the Verizon center is located around 6:15pm. We walked into the arena and found our seats, which were on the main concourse because we balling like that (Not really, lol.) We decided to walk the arena to find some grub. My homie got some calamari and I got a hot dog even though I don’t eat hot dogs regularly, but I figured what the hell? We are having fun, which will be a decision that I will regret making later on in the evening. We returned to our seats and waited for the show to start.
The house lights went out at 7:30pm and the first act was comedian Guy Torry. His act was pretty typical, he talked about the shit black comedians usually talk about (race, sex and Barack Obama). Some of his jokes elicited chuckles from the half-filled arena (folks were still arriving), I guess he did okay, it takes a lot of nerve to be a comedian, I just didn’t find him funny. The best part was that his set was only ten minutes. Guy was gone and now it was time for Jilly from Philly.
Jill Scott’s excellent band started playing at 8:15pm. Jill strutted out on stage a couple minutes later to thunderous applause. Jill Scott is a dynamic live performer and not because she uses choreography and pyrotechnics, it’s because she has a powerhouse voice, she is inviting and compelling and she talks to the audience with her sister girl charisma, flashing that mega watt smile. I attended a Jill Scott show where she walked onto the stage, stood there and just smiled for about two minutes and it whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
She performed all of her notable hits plus some new cuts from her upcoming album. The showstopper moment was when she performed “It’s Love” from her debut album “Words and Sounds: Volume One”. That song appeals to people in D.C. because it’s basically Jill singing over a go-go beat, the band even put the beat in the pocket. It is an amazing thing to see 15,000 people all dancing and singing along, it was truly a WOW moment. The most emotional moment was a song that she performed about the heartbreak she felt after her divorce. I don’t know the name of the song but, it was a powerful performance, she stood there center stage, alone, one spotlight, singing heartfelt lyrics over a sparse piano driven track. You could hear a pin drop in that place; she finished to a standing ovation.
During this time I felt an awful rumbling in my stomach and I felt really hot and uncomfortable. I started to feel nauseous. I hurried to the rest room because it felt like my insides were about to make a surprise visit. Once I made it to the restroom I felt better and I promptly returned to my seat, Jill was still singing her heart out and all was well with my stomach for the time being. Jill closed her show with what I think is her signature song “He Loves Me” which is a dedication to her ex-husband Lyzell. She sang it beautifully and skillfully, taking her voice to operatic heights in the song’s climax. Jill graciously thanked everyone for coming out and supporting the tour because it let’s promoters know that soul music can sell out arenas. One outstanding performance down and now it was time for Maxwell to impress me.
The time was 9:15pm, the house lights were on, Sorrow, Tears and Blood by Fela Kuti was playing on the house speakers, the stage crew was setting up for Maxwell and a familiar feeling returned to my stomach, this time it was more troublesome. My stomach was bullying me and I was afraid, but I couldn’t find an alternate route to avoid it, it was about to be on. When I got the hot dog, I bought a small drink to wash it down (word to Jules Winnfield) I was happy that I decided to get that drink. I frantically told my homie to give me the cup that she had placed under her seat. I grabbed it and emptied my stomach bully into the cup in a crowded arena with the house lights on (I know). I was worried that it may be too much and it would fill up the cup and overflow but it didn't, it turned out perfect, if you can find perfection in a situation like this. I looked straight ahead and avoided eye contact with anyone and dumped the cup full of bully juice into the trash can, I went to the rest room, cleaned myself up and returned to my seat like like what happened didn’t just happen. Now it was time for Maxwell.
At 9:45pm the house lights went out, the stage lighting revealed a full band, a jumbo screen that played a video of the sun that was slowly being eclipsed by the moon, to the left of the stage a silhouette appeared of the mighty Maxwell seductively moving to the music of "Sumthin Sumthin", the women( and some dudes too) lost their motherloving minds at that moment. I say Mighty because any man that can drive women absolutely bat shit the way that he does has a mystical power of some kind. When Maxwell appeared from behind the screen dipped out in one of those cool suits he wears, the applause was so loud it hurt my ears, I knew something wonderful was about to happen.
Maxwell has what I call the “shake your head” factor, meaning that he is so good that he defies description, so you just shake your head at his greatness. I learned last night that Maxwell is the consummate showman; he took a lot of cues from soul men of the past like Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye for his stage show. He was high energy, magnetic and he interacted with the crowd often through conversation and physical touch.
Maxwell’s sensuality is a huge part of his appeal; he has an insanely large female fan base, so it was no surprise that panties were being thrown onstage along with other trinkets, the stage hand had to run out several times to clear things off the stage. Even my homie(who is a female) was screaming like a sex crazed banshee, she kept apologizing but, I understood, dude is damn sexy! Dude’s voice is a unique and soulful instrument, it's hauntingly ethereal and how I imagine an angel would sound. He beautifully ran through Maxwell classics like Til the Cops Come Knocking, Ascension, Fortunate and Matrimony: Maybe you, maybe me. He ended the show with his new classic “Pretty Wings”. He thanked the crowd for the hundredth time, and after two encores Maxwell was gone.
This was hands down the best show that that I’ve attended in a very long time. It was money well spent. I hope to see more shows like this in the coming future. There was wonderful singing, beautifully designed sets for both artists complete with three jumbo screens, amazing live bands, sincerity and humility from both artist and most importantly it was fun. There was no auto-tune, redundant artist demands (throw your hands in the air etc.) no half naked dancers and people casually standing around. Gold star for Jill Scott and Maxwell!
Petey Greene is a DC icon that had a popular radio show and television program back in the 70's and early 80's. He was the personification of "real talk". The movie "Talk to Me" starring Don Cheadle, introduced a whole new audience to Petey Greene's Washington. I went on youtube and found this hilarious video of Petey explaining watermelon eating etiquette. Petey had the appeal of a liquor store hustler and your favorite crazy uncle but, that's what made him so endearing to a large group of people in the D.C. area. I like when he says "put a twang of salt on the sweet melon" Funny shit! There is a good documentary available on Netflix titled Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene. Check it out!
"Are you ready for some poetry motherfuckers?" -Mos Def
Hearts bleed letters
Words shape sounds
Lips meet and kiss
Cocoon mind state
Loose lips slip
Mis under the stand
Missing the point
And make up Sex
Drowning inside the walls
Synchronization of souls
Rhythmic Morse code
Words not needed
Willing to work
it's got to work
Because we are all we got
This movie was weird and a bit disturbing, weird in the sense that some scenes stay with you for a little while, disturbing in a sense like, did I really need to see that shit? Some critics have called this movie a grotesque masterpiece. Grotesque? Yes. Masterpiece? Don’t know about that.
I watched Antichrist on Netflix instant last night. While watching it I kept thinking “What the fuck is this shit?” Antichrist is an interesting movie; there is a lot of symbolism that involves nature and religion. It was directed by Lars Von Trier, the Danish director that is famous for the explicit images in his films. If you are fan of foreign films, he directed Dancer in the Dark starring Bjork and The Europa Trilogy. His films have inspired other art house movies that contain explicit images like The Brown Bunny and that sick fuck of a movie Baise-Moi. Van Trier has been battling depression for many years. If he is sick, that can explain some of the content in this movie.
To keep it short, Antichrist is about a couple He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) that retreat to their cabin in the woods after the death of their son. The baby fell from a window while they were having sex in the opening sequence (the opening scene is gorgeous). He starts having strange visions and She’s behavior becomes violently sexual. There is a lot of sex in Antichrist. The sex is used as a coping mechanism for She to deal with the guilt she feels after the loss of her child. The sex scenes are very explicit and are non-simulated (the actors really fucked). Some of the symbolism in the film involve, acorns falling at a rapid pace from trees, a disemboweled wolf uttering the words “Chaos Reigns” and a deer in the woods with a baby deer hanging out its ass. Nature is used for horrific effect in the film.
I could share much more but, you have to see this movie to get the full effect and I don’t want to ruin the end (there is a method to the madness). There is a twisted scene that involves self mutilation that you have to see on your own, I am squeamish so, it made me cringe. If you have 1:48 minutes to watch Willem Dafoe’s pelvic thrusts and weird facial expressions and Charlotte Gainsbourg’s skinny ass running around the woods naked and other obscene fuckery, check it out!