Milk Does a Body Good (Pass It On).

So, you’re a German engineer, and one day, in your cubicle, you think to yourself, “You know what? I’d really like to be chopped up and eaten alive.” Fair enough, right? But it’s 1989, and the idea probably dies there. At most, maybe one brave night, you go to a bar, buy someone a drink, talk Deutschland football, crack a few jokes, and when the moment is ripe, tell them about that wacky idea that came to you at your cubicle. But, sadly, the law of probability says, there probably are no fellow voraphiles in Dusseldorf; and so, you walk away, humming Morrissey, slightly disappointed that you haven’t been (and probably never will be) splayed on a kitchen counter.

It’s 2001 now, and you’re reminiscing: “You know what? I’d still really like to be chopped up and eaten alive.” You post it on a yahoo message board, and lo and behold, days later, someone named Armin Meiwes responds, and all of a sudden, you’ve officially been chopped and screwed.

Why do I tell you this? First, because I’m a generous person, and I couldn’t possibly keep this crowning moment in the history of Western Civilization to myself. Second, ’cause the only reason I know of it was ’cause of the internet itself (and the weird logic of links that took me there: Jonathan Demme -> Silence of the Lambs -> Cannibalism -> etc). And third, a larger point: out of all the havoc that the internet has wreaked world-wide, historians will one day agree that its most sinister role was as an enabler. Enabler of weird motherfucking fetishes (search ‘crushophiles,’ if you’re brave); or in my case, enabler of the most banal kind of televisual nostalgia.

If I had a quarter for every day, I’ve sat in my carrel, a word document open somewhere on my laptop, and thought something along the lines of, “Man, remember that ad for… My Buddy, Energizer Batteries, the Information Super Highway, Legos, Eggos etc.,” I’d have an eternity’s worth of laundry money.

The latest digression: The other day, I thought to myself, “Man, remember those ads with the line, ‘Milk does a body good’?”, before youtubing “Milk does a body good.” And there it was: a commercial that formed a large part of the background noise of my childhood, and evidence that milk will age you (dude is nineteen?) prematurely.

On the one hand, aw man, I remember that ad. On the other, who gives a shit? Which is the question I’m asking myself about this post, four hundred some words in.

— Thumbu Sammy


Music on Television: Grizzly Bear

Heads up: Tomorrow night’s guest on Jimmy Fallon is none other than Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear, whose latest record Veckatimest is so good, even the hip hop heads are all about it. Let’s hope they don’t get bumped the way they were on Letterman.

And for the record, like the rest of us, Ed Droste feels the pain too.
Twitter mourns

The Big Coney Dog: HBO’s ‘Hung’

Goodbye, Lafayette.
Having made my way back to Michigan a few weeks ago, I can say, for certain, things are a whole lot worse than you might’ve imagined. The Lafayette building is about to eat some wrecking ball (like the old Tiger Stadium just did); a couple thousand just lost their jobs at Detroit Public Schools; GM, whose specter rises high above the city skyline, just went bankrupt; and last week, a report showed Michigan leading the nation in unemployment. Reading about it is one thing; seeing it, another. Driving home (to the burbs) for Father’s day, I noticed that even the big, mirrored corporate boxes that dot either side of I-75, Telegraph, Crooks were emptied out, rusting.

Amidst all the job losses, the destroyed buildings and destroyed economies the past few years, has been the surreal presence of Hollywood in our backyards, thanks to a tax break for filmmakers. First, Gran Turino was shot in Detroit, then Whip It! in Ann Arbor (a set I accidentally stumbled onto), and now, HBO’s latest series, Hung, shot in Commerce Township, near Southfield. Rumor has it DeNiro’s been chilling in Ypsi, too, being accosted by drunk women, and inviting locals to the titty bar.

Hung (which debuts this Sunday) is about your average down-and-out metro Detroiter with an above average kielbasa. (And by ‘kielbasa,’ I mean, weiner.) When his house burns down, and he’s strapped for cash, he decides to play the field. (And by ‘play the field,’ I mean become a gigolo.)

Here’s a trailer. More poorly-conceived dick jokes to come.

— Thumbu Sammy

Music on Television: I Got Two Tympanies and a Microphone

Week after dreadful week of bands on late night made me stop and reconsider the point of writing all those TubaTV “Music on Television” posts. But sure enough, as soon as I stopped, I missed not one but two brilliant performances by this year’s comeback kid – the (occasionally) Mighty Mos Def – who dropped his latest, The Ecstatic, earlier this week. On Fallon, Mos teamed up with The Roots on his Banda Black Rio-inspired closer, “Casa Bey.”

And on Letterman, Mos lugged out his two tympanies for a tight performance of “Quiet Dog Bite Hard” (with some blessings from Fela).


Oh, and in case the links above expire, try these: “Casa Bey” (on Fallon); “Quiet Dog” (on Letterman)

— Thumbu Sammy

The Return of Doo Doo Brown

For good reason no one ever called me big poppa, but truth be told, back in ’91, I, too, was reading Word Up, cutting out and hanging pictures on my wall, and obsessively taping shit off the radio (I came up with my own emcee name too; don’t ask). That year in particular there were two stand-out tracks that deejays from the D spun in the off hours of radio, and I spent long nights trying to preserve them onto TDKs. The first, which I actually did manage to dub, was Eerk & Jerk’s “Eerk & Jerk” (with its mind-blowing use of a Robocop sample). The second, 2 Hyped Brothers and a Dog’s “Doo Doo Brown” (above), I was never so lucky with.

Now, a lot of folks remember the second “Doo Doo Brown,” the raunchy booty-dropper by Luke of 2 Live Crew-infamy. And for good reason too. Apparently, that track started the third wave of Miami Bass (“Who Let the Dogs Out,” “Tootsee Roll,” were all just reincarnations of Doo Doo). Not that I cared. All I knew was that Uncle Luke’s beat used to throw me into convulsions.

1-900-976-Dudu The first “Doo Doo Brown,” on the other hand, was a long-winded, unstructured Bmore club track, plagued by a radio emcee who thought he could rock the mic. And yet, I was obsessed with it. Partly, ’cause the track was so elusive (time and again, it’d play in the car, when I couldn’t tape it, and no one at my middle school seemed to know it). And partly ’cause a song with that title seemed like it came out of my eleven-year-old mind.

So imagine my surprise when I caught the ad for Tyler Perry’s latest sitcom Meet the Browns dropping “Doo Doo,” and discovered it’s now the basis of a nation-wide dance competition. If I had the moves I had back then, that contest would already be over.

— Thumbu Sammy

This Week’s Music on TV

Bring it on down to Omeletteville!

I’m not sure anything this week – musical or otherwise – can top J.T.’s latest addition to the Omeletteville canon. (The Dick-in-a-box reprise “Motherlover” just wasn’t that funny, man). Still, the increasingly visible Asher Roth is bound to be hilarious this Thursday on Fallon. Holmes is ’09’s answer to Blizzard Man.

Monday: Three-hit wonder Soulja Boy does Jimmy Fallon; the Alphaville-inspired Killers play Letterman; and Ciara, straight off the sweaty SNL stage, brings it on Leno.
Tuesday: Aspiring diva Chrisette Michele does Letterman.
Wednesday: Ciara goes for round three on Kimmel.
Thursday: No-hit wonder Asher Roth does Jimmy Fallon; Rick Ross hustles with Magazeen on Letterman; and The Decemberists do Leno.
Friday: Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, plays Jimmy Fallon; Pitchfork-approved headbangers Mastodon do Letterman; Kings of Leon bring their sexy bumpkin act on Leno; and the freshly-botoxed Eminem takes over Kimmel.
Saturday: East bay natives Green Day play SNL.

Beneath the Underdog

No one cares for me.

Time to fess up: for me, the real tragedy of the premature dismissal of Kings from the NBC lineup isn’t the fact that a decent show didn’t get an honest run, or that a great cast was now out of work (though that was certainly a part of it); it was the sudden lack of material to post and the sudden absence of a decent distraction. Unless you have the encyclopedic breadth of a J.C. Freñán, who seems to have an uncanny ability to watch everything at all times, it’s hard to keep up with weekly installments of teledramas. This ain’t made any easier by shows like Lost (which I caught a few recent episodes of with our good friends at Interweb Detritus), whose plotlines are so mangled, are such labyrinthine mazes through bullshit, that they’ve become absolutely impossible to enter midway. So, naturally, I spent most of my time in front of the tube watching a drama of other sorts unfold – the much more accessible ’09 NBA Playoffs – only to witness yet another devastating and premature dismissal of a tale of Biblical dimensions (if not quite proportions): the untimely death of the David-turned-Goliath-turned-David-again Detroit Pistons.

Now I know TubaTV isn’t the most appropriate spot to vent about sports per se (even if I, the destitute student that I am, have only ever experienced sports through television), and I don’t want to go on about how much the decimation of my beloved, hometown team hurt (how, for instance, my heart dropped into my intestines after game 1; or how close I was to taking the plunge into the Pacific after game 3). There’ll be none of that. No, I want to talk more about the narrative of the underdog, the one narrative hook that pulls us all in, whether it be in sports or film (hello Slumdog!) or TV shows. Our national psyche is indebted to that narrative (Horatio Alger’s rags to riches tale is paradigmatic; and Obama’s story the latest example), but that shit goes even beyond the country’s borders. It’s a universal trait of modern subjectivity to believe we are always the underdog, even when we’re not. And if we ever do come to grips that we are no longer the underdog, that somehow we’re no longer an average Joe when we’re catapulted to the next tax bracket, something feels amiss. For Sheed & Company, they longed for the days when no one believed they could win, until, they no longer actually could.

Malcolm Gladwell (of The Tipping Point fame) in this week’s New Yorker gives some perspective on how underdogs pull off their great upsets. Gladwell narrates the story of a Palo Alto youth girls basketball team, coached by IT entrepreneur and hoops-newbie Vivek Ranadive, who, against all odds, manage to become the league’s best team. Gladwell returns to the David and Goliath tale for example:

‘And it happened as the Philistine arose and was drawing near David that David hastened and ran out from the lines toward the Philistine,’ the Bible says. ‘And he reached his hand into the pouch and took from there a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead.’ The second sentence—the slingshot part—is what made David famous. But the first sentence matters just as much. David broke the rhythm of the encounter. He speeded it up. ‘The sudden astonishment when David sprints forward must have frozen Goliath, making him a better target,’ the poet and critic Robert Pinsky writes in ‘The Life of David.’ Pinsky calls David a ‘point guard ready to flick the basketball here or there.’ David pressed. That’s what Davids do when they want to beat Goliaths.

Gladwell’s essay is about the way in which the Davids of the world win, by outhustling and outsmarting their opponents, by ignomiously “choos[ing] not to play by Goliath’s rules.” But Gladwell has less to say about the fleeting nature of Davids, a constitutive part, I’d argue, of the narrative itself.

Getting back to hoops, the Detroit Pistons of the aughts are the perfect example of the David and Goliath tale because, over the long decade, they inhabited both ends of that tale: they were, in ’04, the unlikely underdogs knocking off the imploding, hubristic Lakers; and they were, every year after that, the arrogant force of the East, who lost time and again to an upstart (Miami, Cleveland, and the freshly minted Celtics). And so it went with Ranadive’s basketball team, the team of wimpy, white girls (and Desis) who perfected the full court press and, against all odds, started to mow down their opponents; soon after becoming the fiercest defenders in girls basketball, they turned into the obnoxious victors, enough that opposing coaches launched chairs across the court in frustration.

Some weeks back, I praised Kings for its inspired reinterpretation of the David and Goliath tale (the press and public mistake David’s surrender as an act of defiance), but was annoyed by his protagonist’s subsequent, string-enhanced, heroism in every fucking episode thereafter. What would have happened to the David of Kings as the show progressed? He drew the ire of TubaTV, but would he have started to piss off the public of Gilboa with his repeated acts of underdog bumpkin heroics? Would he have turned into a KG, barking at the latest upstarts? Now, thanks to NBC, we’ll probably never know. Eh.

— Thumbu Sammy

You know what it takes to sell real estate? It takes brass balls to sell real estate.