By Kathleen Vanesian
By Amy Silverman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Jim Louvau
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Benjamin Leatherman
By New Times
By Becky Bartkowski
Before I get into Halo 2, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, there's a little matter of The New York Dolls' new CD, The Return of the New York Dolls: Live From Royal Festival Hall, 2004, on Attack Records.
That little matter is: WHAT THE FUCK? Okay, so that Morrissey guy with the slicked-back hair produces the damn thing, and whoever is left alive in the band gets to play, but so what? This CD sucks. But perhaps I'm being a bit harsh.
Way back when, in the early days of The Punk Rock, came along this great little band called the New York Dolls. They were all these tough East Village New York City guys who dressed in women's clothes and played third-rate Rolling Stones rip-off tunes. Not to say that's bad. At all. In fact, it was rather amusing, and definitely helped start the punk-rock scene as we know it. It was guys who didn't care about anything -- a guitarist, Johnny Thunders, who showed the world how to play soulful leads, and a singer who later starred as the ghost of Christmas whatever in that movie Scrooged. My opinion was that he should have been the Grinch, too, and not that Jim Carrey guy. Face it: David Johansen, Buster Poindexter, or whatever name he goes by these days, has a face not even a mother can love. And that's what makes him so cool. He's ugly in that Mick Jagger sort of way, with every feature on his face exaggerated. Yeah, I'm jealous. He's that cool.
So anyway, now it's like, what, 30 years later, and half the band is dead, and the rest are on life support of one type or another. And they go and put out a live album of all their old tunes. Recorded live in that backward Britain place, where they still haven't figured out how to use a toothbrush.
Tunes on this disc include classics like "Puss 'n' Boots," "Jet Boy," "Human Being," and the Johnny Thunders classic "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory." While it's all very touching, it also sounds like shit. The guys play way too slow, and it sounds like half the time they're nodding off in their rocking chairs.
Now, I really wanted to like this CD. A lot. I really did dig these guys back in the day, but when the CD opens with "Looking for a Kiss," and the band sounds worse and more out of tune than any indie or emo band I've ever heard, I gotta call it for what it is. A waste of plastic.
Some of you may disagree. So let me tell you where I'm coming from. I hate reunited bands. The Ramones ruled because they never stopped playing. The Sex Pistols reunions sounded great, but they are still shitheads. And who cares if The Buzzcocks and The Cure are still getting together every once in a while? Fuck all of it. Either you're a band, or you're not. Or, like in my case with my New York band, Furious George, we call it like it is. We play when we feel like it and never broke up because we were never really a real band to start with. If more musicians took that attitude, there would be less fucked-up rock-star bullshit in the world.
Enough of that.
Halo 2 from Bungie and Microsoft for the XBox is the shit. The game has great graphics, kicks more ass than the first one, and the multiplayer part of this baby is more than incredible. Yesterday, I found myself getting my ass kicked by a third-grader and a fifth-grader, who couldn't stop laughing at how bad I was at the thing. But for some reason, it didn't bother me. Probably because I knew that if I really wanted to, I could kick their asses for real. Little punks.
Then there's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, from Rockstar Video Games, for the PlayStation 2. This is the best game for adults ever made. Even though the graphics are kind of shitty, the story and game play are so fun, it will ruin your life. You play as a guy named C-Jay, and while the game starts like Menace II Society, it ends up being Ocean's Eleven and The A-Team. Fucking amazing. Plus, you can make C-Jay look like whomever you want. My C-Jay looks like Mr. T. And I pity the fool who fucks with my C-Jay. And fuck David Cross for making parts of this game impossible. I love you.
On the GameBoy Advance front, I've finally kicked the ass of the first Boktai, and also beat The Sims' new one, The Urbz, from EA. Wonderful stuff. In The Urbz, I made my little guy look just like me, and he once again saved the town from evil Daddy Bigbucks. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you rule. You're not wasting your life away like me.
Same goes with Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories from Square/Disney. I never thought I'd like an RPG game, especially one with cards, but this game is fun. So fun it scares me. I've never even tried Pokémon, but I'm beginning to think I'd like it. And if that was proven to be true, I'd hate myself even more than I do now. It's bad enough I think SpongeBob SquarePants is cool. But Pokémon? Someone throw that little ball through my brain, okay?
On the PlayStation 2, I'm playing Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. This game blows all the others away. It's for kids and adults, and the explosions are enough to make your dog hide under the couch and your live-in lover want to move out. Get it, now.
Got the CD from The Makkabees, who outdo the Jew shtick better than I ever could. They take the "old" classics and make 'em punk rock! And by classics, I mean the Jewish classics. Actually, I'm not sure if they make 'em punk rock or metal. It all sounds so good, I can't tell. But what I can tell you is this is quite a mind trip. I'd love to see The Makkabees play the Valley with Jewdriver. The skinhead kids would love it.
Finally, there's the new Action Swingers CD, called Enough Already -- Live!, on Reptilian Records. It's a recording of the band's last show at The Continental in New York City. For those of you who never heard this classic punk outfit, think Dwarves meets Ramones. With some Dead Boys thrown in. And how does that sound? Like the best record I've heard in years next to the new Dwarves one I described last week. Ned Hayden, the lead singer of the band and my pal, spits out tunes like "Glad to Be Gone," "How Do You Work This Thing," and "I'm Sick." The guitars hit you like a brick wall, and Ned's voice is so cool and unique, I stole it for Furious George. In fact, I stole Ned's whole shtick for Furious George. Sorry, Ned, but you know what they say: "Imitation is the sincerest way of ripping off your friends."