06 March 2006


I wasn't necessarily going to do a blog right out of the gate this week, but after what I did Friday night, I couldn't avoid it. I saw Dave Chappelle's Block Party.

I seriously cannot remember enjoying myself that much in a movie ever, in my life. It's not the best movie I've ever seen, obviously- it is essentially a concert film. But for sheer enjoyment, and total "fun," I'd personally find it hard to beat. A lot of that has to do with the movie, and a lot probably has to do with the atmosphere in the particular theatre I happened to be in. We actually were given evaluation cards for the movie as we walked in. I can't explain it- I don't think there really is an explanation- but everyone in the theatre was just really responding to the movie. There was a familiar feeling too, like everyone was hanging out and watching some great, great music. Again, I can't explain it.

For those not aware, the movie is essentially small snippets of Dave Chappelle organizing a concert, interspersed with footage from the actual concert that came from his planning. The Chappelle scenes are obviously really funny- he's a naturally funny guy, to start, but he's also very relatable and accessible. When he's filming at least. I guess the cynic in me wants to say that this is hardly proof of how he is when he's Dave, but I'll risk naivete in saying it- I think that's the real Dave Chappelle. I think he's a really good person that happens to be gifted and rich and famous.

Which, I think, is where the movie and concert grew out of. Dave just wanted to put on a fun concert with people he really liked. Those people are artists I happen to really like, too- The Roots, Dead Prez, Kanye West, Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Fugees, Erykah Badu, Kool G Rap. Jill Scott was there as well, and even though I'm not a huge Jill Scott fan, she was actually really, really great as well. There was, of course, a Big Daddy Kane cameo too, which was easily one of the two or three highlights of a great movie.

Dead Prez was the best performance to me. They were a band I listened to a lot in college- I still really love them, but they'd dropped a bit off my radar since then. Well, the entire time they were on the stage the fucking hair on the back of my neck was standing straight up. I think what was so inviting about this "concert" film over and above most was the neighborhood feel it cultivated- from the title, to it's execution, to the way Chappelle made the area a character in the movie- you felt like you were hanging out, sipping a drink and checking out some great music outside on a summer night with friends.

A few moments really, really stand out- the band kids reacting to the news of travelling to NYC to play with, you know- Kanye West and friends. The waiter freestyling with Dave beatboxing- the last line of which literally caused the entire theatre to explode in laughter. The scene where Jill Scott was watching Erykah Badu perform, talking about how much she admired her. The best part of that was when the guy in the background innocently remarked that, "man, it'll be tough to follow her." Scott turned to look right at him with an honest smirk on her face and said, "you ever see ME perform?" It was cool to see her move from admiration to cockiness that quick. It wasn't with any animosity either. It was really cool.

Hearing Lauryn Hill talk about the early Fugees days ("The first few years I knew them, I didn't know these cats was Hatian... I thought they were Jamaican!"), Talib Kweli and Mos Def's performance of "Get By," Dave and Mos planning their nightclub act routine. It was cool seeing Erykah Badu, losing her afro in the wind (it's a wig), and for a split second grabbing at it, then thinking "no, fuck it, I'm with my friends, what do I care?" and tearing it off herself. Let it be known here that I find Erykah Badu to be really, really hot.

I couldn't possibly recommend this movie more highly. It's really just fantastic- great music, totally funny. Great time. Plus, Michel Gondry directed it. That's really cool too.

So Simpsons fans- check this out. I'm guessing it's an ad for syndicated episodes of The Simpsons- or something like it. It's obviously in Europe, too, as you can tell Marge is driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Totally not authentic! Either way- it's really funny, a cool idea and fun to rewind and pick new stuff out of. Well done.

Made me think too of that re-creation of the Simpsons' house someone did and gave away to a contest winner a few years ago. It wasn't just done by floorplan, or whatever- it was also done with the same colors, drapes, furniture, etc. I mean, a free house is a free house- but that shit isn't exactly fun to look at outside the cartoon world. I got a headache just looking at some of them. Here are some pictures of that house.

I read The Great Gatsby, like most people, back in high school. I really liked it back then, but, like a lot of books you read in high school- I read it just enough to get by. I didn't go about absorbing it, I went about ticking off certain highlights that I'd be able to weave into a paper. So, since it's relatively short, I decided to re-read it before moving on to something else new.

You'll (maybe) remember from this post the "Casablanca Effect." Well, The Great Gatsby should be an inner-circle CE'er. I read the thing in two days, over pretty much three sittings. It really is just as good as it's made out to be which, while not particularly surprising, did make it a remarkably fun book to read. I love it.

So now I'm reading Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, aka, The NAMBLA manifesto. Just kidding. It's pretty heavy prose- which is always fun. Thick, heavy stuff. Fairly short, however, and then I'm on to (for now) Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter before finish off the Edmund Wilson Teddy Roosevelt bios with Theodore Rex.

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