Written by: Ron Bricker
Like another writer on this site, Russell Davidson chose to recognize 10 memorable pop-culture experiences from 2007.
Included in his list are a great cable TV series, a music documentary and a stellar run by one of his favorite sports teams, but Davidson also looks to the obscure, conjuring up an elaborate graphic adaptation of a classic novel to recognize on his list. Read on.
1 – Release of a special 2-disc version of DIG!, the documentary chronicling the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols. Hugely important because it clued me in to the BJM, who, as it turns out, are one of the greatest bands that ever existed. Saw DIG! when it first came out a few years back, bought the BJM retrospective, but never listened to it. Then the movie is back, this year, with extras, and I see it again, the music HITS me, I see it again and again and again. And I listen to the cd again and again and again (much to my wife’s dismay). Sure, The Dandies are OK, but the BJM? Don’t miss out!
7 – Gordon Ramsey. I could watch this celebrity chef all day. Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares are both tremendously enjoyable simply because of him, because of the way he relates to people, the way he talks, what he says, all that, yes? Very amusing. Seems he could have been a world-class soccer player, too, if he hadn’t been injured. Let’s be glad he did get hurt and chose to go the cooking route. Goal!
3 – The Wire. HBO show. Wow! It took me three years to start renting this show on DVD after hearing everyone and their mother rave about it, and lo and behold, it turns out all those moms were right. Most superlatives apply to this one, "epic" and "riveting" among them. A host of complex characters inhabit the show: McNulty, Keema, Stringer, Bubbles, Marlo, all of them kept busy by realistic, unforeseen plot developments. It's funny, it's sad – what else can I say? It’s your loss if you miss out on this. I know it’s daunting to catch up on four seasons but it's worth it.
2 – The Boston Celtics start the season at 26-3. I’ve been waiting forever for the Celts to be competitive again, and here they are, kicking the hell out of the league. Yes, there’ve been some dark, dark times. Them times are over. And if they have a better record than the Nets (almost already assured) at seasons’ end, I win $50 from my Uncle John. Rejoice!
5 – Albert Hammond, Jr. The Strokes guitarist came out with my favorite album of the year, a solo shot, “Yours To Keep.” Rumor has it that these were songs rejected by the other fellas in the Strokes, but they musta been drinking or something, ‘cause this album is loaded with great melody, great guitar work, great singing, all the stuff I ask for. And he’s got dynamite hair. A super record. We gotta be careful not to overpraise it too much, though. Don’t want Albert leaving the band!
10 – the Moby-Dick pop-up book, by Sam Ita. You seen this? Some serious paper engineering going on here. My mom has been plodding through the actual Melville novel for a few years now (she’s like halfway done), and I thought this would be a nice companion to it, so I sent it to her, loved it so much, I had to get my own. The intricacy is amazing. A work of art to appreciate and marvel over. Best part, now I can skip the REAL Moby-Dick!
9 – 30 Rock. Best network sitcom in a long, long time (w/a nod to Arrested Development). Everyone loves Alec Baldwin in this, and they should, but it’s not just him. Tracey Morgan is a riot, Tina Fey is great, the writing is creative, it’s just well done, a rare thing. Can they keep it up? I say yes!
4 – XBOX 360. I finally got mine X-mas time, and I’m knee-deep in it, shooting, punching, running, launching, all-out WALLOWING. And why not? These games are layered, works of art, really. Detailed, cutting edge, imaginative, playing is like going to a museum where you can blast the crap out of everything. And no, if you choose, you don’t have to destroy things, you can play with dogs, race cars, cook food, you name it. I just like destroying things. Get with it and get one!
6 – The Simpsons Movie. We’d waited forever, and here it was, and guess what, it was funny. I was a little worried a movie would somehow tarnish the legacy of the show, but I should have known that writers as good as these guys are wouldn’t screw it up. Didn’t like the Alaska bit, but hey, no one did, and why quibble? As high as they’ve raised our standards, they still came through. As a whole, the Simpsons may be the greatest artistic achievment ever, and we’re talking in the history of the world, here. Beats the crap out of the Mona Lisa, that’s for sure!
8 – The Flight of the Conchords. HBO show. Where did this come from? Completely hilarious. Two New Zealand musicians trying to make it in NYC, trying to make it in the music biz, trying to make it in general. The two leads are great, as are the supporting cast, their manager, their ONE fan, all of it, droll, understated, very, very funny. Once again, HBO leads the way. Someone’s on the ball over there.