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Five For Friday

I thought I'd try something different for my blog.

Each week, I watch, read, listen to, or note something in the realm of entertainment, pop culture, and news that I want to share.

And I thought a possibly weekly dive into those encounters might be a nice way to introduce you to some content that could be of interest to you.

Here are five things that caught my attention this week.

Exterminate All The Brutes (HBO): This unique docuseries by filmmaker Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro) explores the roots and results of European colonialism and genocide. It is, at times, overwhelming, not just because of its harrowing subject matter but also due to its running time, intellectual rigor, and sheer scope. Occasionally, it does feel like you are sitting in on a lecture. But there are lyrical moments, and a general meditative mood, that belie what Peck is exploring and the horrific details and images that he shares. The effect is like a waking nightmare that is oddly pastoral. And then you realize that prevailing calm in some ways mirrors how the unthinkable becomes not only acceptable but also actual. Not a work to passively engage with. And not one you can process fully in one sitting, let alone one viewing.

Jim Steinman: Steinman never got much respect from critics, who suggested he was a symbol of what Springsteen might become if the New Jersey legend lacked restraint. But to my ears, Steinman's work is the apotheosis of everything rock music was about and then some. In other words, what you'd get if you mixed Springsteen's ambitions with Wagnerian pomp, Wall of Sound sonics, Broadway bombast, and teen angst. Any interview you find with him suggests he was an outsider, someone whose emotional development ended in his teens, and I can hear that all through his music. It is bigger, longer, stranger, and more dramatic than that of his peers, and I love its grandeur. Meat Loaf will always be seen as the leading conduit of his epics, but I'd say Bonnie Tyler and Celine Dion captured his ethos better. And it is a shame that his two songs for the film Streets of Fire aren't better known. In some ways, they capture his strengths, his cinematic style, best. He didn't die so much as his soul broke out of his body and flew away.

Greg Jacobs: Aka Piano man. Aka MC Blowfish. Aka Humpty Hump. Jacobs was the hip hop artist who found a way to bring the spirit of P-Funk into the late 80s and early 90s. His work was cartoonish but high concept, low brow, but also laced with interesting social commentary, and funky in a way that felt at once simpatico with his influences but not too beholden to them. One of my favorite stories about him was that he got fired from his job as a DJ for playing the full 15-minute version of (Not Just) Knee Deep. His Digital Underground collective took me from a passing interest in hip hop to being a fully invested fan, and it always made me smile. The Humpty Dance is one of the few raps I can almost do all the way through. But it is Doowutchyalike that remains his finest moment, a statement of purpose that encourages you to do what you want to do. Unless you've got nasty bunions. RIP, Greg. Peace and Humptiness forever.

Erykah Badu - Window Seat: My computer died a couple of weeks ago and I have been making do with an old lappy that my better half had. It was loaded with music from a friend, some of which has replaced the thousands of jams I had on mine (and may yet be returned to me again, fingers crossed). This is one of the songs that was on the lappy, and I forgot how much I enjoyed its warm vibe, making it a perfect spring jam. But I had not forgotten the video and its ending, which seems even more haunting today. Hard to believe she has not put out a proper album for 11 years (2015's But You Caint Use My Phone was a mixtape).

Ephemera: Read this morning that a gender reveal event involved 80 pounds of explosive and caused an earthquake. In other words, it blue'd up good.


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