Friday, March 19, 2004

For the week of 3/19/04:

Top 10 People

1 - Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. How awesome is Spain? After disregarding the wishes of its electorate for at least a year, the reigning party has the gall to blame the Basques for Spain's horrible terrorist attack even when they knew otherwise. A couple of days later, they're out and the Socialists are in. I really hope American citizens can demonstrate as firm a grasp of democracy in November.

2 - Carrie Brownstein. I have a lot of favorite bands: Fugazi, Rancid, Jay-Z, Grand Buffet, the sadly broken up Dismemberment Plan. (Yes, I just called Jay-Z a band. No, I don't know why.) But I only have one favorite favorite band, and that's Sleater-Kinney. Last time Sleater-Kinney played Baltimore, I had tickets, but I missed it because I had to be in St. Louis for my grandfather's funeral. So I was way amped to find out they'd be playing B-More again next month (Recher Theater, April 21). And I have no more grandfathers, so I have no reason to miss this one. I picked Carrie because she's my favorite.

3 - Johnny Depp. Secret Window was a really bad movie, but Johnny Depp can do a whole lot to make a bad movie bearable. I kind of enjoyed Secret Window up until its ridiculous ending, and that's absolutely a testament to Depp's charisma. Almost everything that was good about that movie was his doing, and I'm almost certain that all the character's great little tics (the clicking jaw, the manic faces) were his ideas. If I were a Hollywood hack looking for a way to make my shitty movie a little bit better, he's the first guy I'd call.

4 - Sasha Frere-Jones. SFJ on Timbaland in the Village Voice is some of the best music writing I've come across this year. And now he's all up in the New Yorker. Seriously, there may be no better American music writer working today; I'm way jealous.

5 - Xzibit. X has had some great moments in his music career ("What U See is What U Get", "What's the Difference", that Reflection Eternal track with Rah Digga). But then he had that stupid song where he was a ninja or something in the video, and his track on the 8 Mile soundtrack was pretty terrible as well. So I'm really happy that he's found a new niche for himself on MTV. He's a perfect choice to host Pimp My Ride; he's funny, he enjoys it, he seems to have a real, unforced rapport with the people on the show. I didn't think I'd like the show at all, but it's perfect brain-dead viewing, and X is the best thing it has going for it. (Side note: what was up with that one guy trying to put a river in the car because the girl's name was Nile? That shit was stupid.)

6 - Kanye West. He's platinum now! And he's the first dude on Rocafella to go platinum other than Jay, Cam, and DJ Clue (which is like what? Who bought those shitty Clue albums?). College Dropout is also the best album Rocafella's released that wasn't by Jay-Z, so Kanye deserves it. I just hope Beanie doesn't get jealous and beat his ass.

7 - Charles S. Dutton. Baltimore represent! This guy is from Baltimore, he's a great actor, he's done heavy prison time for manslaughter, and everything he does on TV turns to gold (Roc, The Corner, that time he was on Oz). So why has he never been in a good movie? Secret Window is just the latest in an embarrassingly long line of horrendous movies he's been in: Crocodile Dundee 2, Alien 3, that Meg Ryan boxing movie that looked terrible. I think I kinda liked Surviving the Game when I was 12, but all I really remember is that it came out at the same time as Hard Target and had the exact same plot. Wait, I'm checking IMDB ... He was in Menace II Society? And Seven? I don't remember that! I should probably see Get on the Bus, huh?

8 - Marianna Ritchey. I'm not used to being moved when I read blogs, but her entry about life's great little moments (Regarding: Little Moments of Nirvana, March 16) made me want to hug my mom, my girlfriend, and my dog immediately.

9 - Jacquise from The Real World. I like this guy. He's funny. He's also the only castmember this year who isn't crazy, drunk, intensely judgmental, or some unholy combination thereof.

10 - David Amsden. Amsden's article from the most recent Believer about the way debut novelists are marketed much more heavily than other novels raised some interesting points. On the one hand, I'd generally rather read a book by someone roughly my age than someone much older; I tend to share sensibilities with people closer to my age. (And White Teeth was way better than The Autograph Man; sorry, dude.) But Amsden is right that the media tends to fixate on weird, irrelevant things about the authors it hypes. I'm certainly not immune to hype, but it's weird how someone like Jonathan Lethem can be so great for so long without anyone noticing; that guy wrote so many amazing novels, but he didn't get hardly any hype until he wrote his autobiographical epic about late-70s Brooklyn that simply refused to be ignored. But anyway, Amsden's article is a fun, smart, accessible read about contemporary literature, and articles like that aren't exactly thick on the ground.