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Flashbacks: September 1, 2006

The Boston Phoenix has been covering the trends and events that shape our times since 1966.

High stakes | 5 years ago | August 31, 2001 | Ron Fletcher described the scene before a library book sale.
 “Those of you who’ve waited hours for tickets on a damp Saturday morning know well that thrill of finally stepping forward at 10 am to claim your prize. The local-library book sale provides no such pleasure. Instead, it traps one in a drama of a different order.

“Before the doors open, a handful of us — those who learned sales ago to show up early — size up the competition. With sidelong glances, we try to identify potential rivals. Perfect posture? Nonfiction with, perhaps, a yen for military history. Toting a canvas bag from the local farmers’ market and sipping tea? Gardens and cookbooks. A couple with bags full of bags, talking library layout and genre strategy? Dealers, a type more odious than the dilettante, that ill-shaven young man reading Rilke elegies, swilling Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and checking his watch too often. If we sense no overlap in taste with our own, we are sweetness and light; detecting a doppelgänger, though, turns neighbor into nemesis.”

Still Crazy | 10 years ago | August 30, 1996 | Brett Milano attended a Neil Young and Crazy Horse show.
“In one of the more delicious ironies of the year, Neil Young and Crazy Horse opened last week’s two-night stand at Great Woods with the oft-quoted rock anthem ‘Hey Hey, My My (Out of the Blue).’ The song peaked, as usual, with Young dropping names in the last verse — ‘The King is gone, but he’s not forgotten/This is the story of Johnny Rotten’ — and that line was answered as usual by bassist Billy Talbot and rhythm guitarist Frank Sampedro shouting into the mike, ‘Johnny Rotten! Johnny Rotten!’ — grinning like two kids who’ve just learned a new cuss word.

“You had to remember how daring it sounded when Young wrote that line in 1978. He was the rock statesman invoking the name of an upstart punk who challenged everything that he stood for. But in 1996, he was performing that song less than two weeks after Johnny Rotten had headlined the very same stage — the two dueling icons are now part of the same touring circuit. And if you compare the spirited oldies show that Rotten played with the Sex Pistols to the churning, cathartic set that Young delivered with Crazy Horse, you have to wonder who’s standing prouder as the godfather of punk rock. But you don’t have to wonder for very long.”

Behind the music | 15 years ago | August 30, 1991 | Peter Keough liked Alan Parker's rock flick The Commitments more than his previous films.
“A bunch of urban working-class kids struggle to escape their fates by pooling their talents and forming a band. After a rocky start, they enjoy some success, and with it comes the requisite dissension, ambition, jealousy, and developing egos. Based on the novel by Irish writer Roddy Doyle, Alan Parker’s The Commitments tells a familiar story, one that Parker tried out more than a decade ago with his second film, Fame (1980). That film exploited the clichés and melodrama inherent in the premise. This time, Parker gets it right.

“Maybe it’s the choice of music that makes the difference. ‘Dublin soul’ — Irish proles belting out Celtic renditions of the greatest hits of James Brown and Otis Redding — starts as a joke and ends as triumph of creative resourcefulness against unrelenting repression. Or perhaps it’s the setting. After pompously berating American injustices in Mississippi Burning and Come See the Paradise, Parker now moves closer to home. His familiarity with the territory allows him to be funny, exact, and honest, and to set the tale, without preaching, in a disturbing social reality. Whatever the reason, The Commitments is one of the best films about a band ever made (only This Is Spinal Tap is funnier and more insightful), a parable of the necessity and impossibility of redemption, a musical comedy as conceived by Samuel Beckett and Wilson Pickett.”

Different strokes | 20 years ago | September 2, 1986 | Jimmy Guterman compared new Globe cartoonist Dan Wasserman's work to that of long-time staffer Paul Szep.
“It may not be obvious at first glance why Wasserman’s work, which still appears in the pages of 50-odd members of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, has garnered such acclaim and met with such success. His low-key style doesn’t call attention to itself. His four-frame drawings, like most multiple-unit cartoons, set a scene, advance the action or narrative by the minimal increments such space allows, and twist the end into a joke or a trenchant comment. But unlike Szep’s broad caricatures, Wasserman’s dry work is more self-consciously cerebral. Szep reached artistic maturity at a time when Yippies, assassinations, and Watergate were the lead new stories. His cartooning came of age in far more tumultuous times; the post-’60s period called for bold, pounding commentary. Wasserman, too, is a product of his times: he is subtly savage, a liberal in the conservative ’8os upholding the political cartooning tradition.”

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Related: Perfectly strange, North American idol, The Big Hurt: Rotten butter, More more >
  Topics: Flashbacks , Alan Parker, Ballet, Billy Talbot,  More more >
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  •   FLASHBACKS: SEPTEMBER 22, 2006  |  September 20, 2006
    The Boston Phoenix has been covering the trends and events that shape our times since 1966.
  •   FLASHBACKS: SEPTEMBER 1, 2006  |  August 30, 2006
    The Boston Phoenix has been covering the trends and events that shape our times since 1966.


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