Monday, September 19, 2005

Techno Babble

This week we answer the musical question all of you have had on your minds for a long long while, "What do Teddy and Ike have in common?"

Now of course first I must clarify that I'm not exactly a neo-luddite. In high school I was the first one on my block and the second one in my conscious that owned a VCR allowing the taping of some late night programming to watch on the weekends. Later on I was one of the first I knew who owned an actual PC, and I wasn't exactly the last one on this planet to own an iPod.

Still as I watch all these cell phone carrying people who seemingly can't stand a moment of silence and have to conduct the most inane conversations in human history for the rest of us to be a captive audience to, and at the same time we live in the land of satellite radio and TIVO and GPS tracking devices that map out our each and every next move, I think I'm beginning to long for the day when life was much more simple and all we had to worry about was the Commies dropping the big one on us as we ducked and covered underneath the safety of our grade school desks. I'm somewhat reluctant to admit that yes indeed in the past month I've become very glad that I've lived beyond my expiration date to see the mass production (and acceptance) of DVDs and the future of how we listen to music.

When I was browsing the bins of the store we want to be, Amoeba in Los Angeles, I came across something I just had to buy even though its $44.95 price seemed a bit outlandish. It was a copy of one of my all time favorite TV shows on DVD, ABC's mid-90's flop, Murder One that I'm sure I wrote about in these pages all those years ago. I just finished watching the first season and man I'm even more impressed than I was when the show ran on my fuzzy reception rabbit ears aided antenna enhanced TV back in the day when life was just turning the corner of making it to the next day into believing again that something just a little bit greater was waiting for me if I could only hold on.

You must all see Murder One at some point in your life. It's another Steven Bochco serial series (the one that came after Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law and Bay City Blues and Cop Rock and N.Y.P.D. Blue and Delvecchio) and it didn't get the audience it deserved running up against the first few seasons of E.R. Coming just after the outcome of the O.J. trial the premise was that the show would be about just one trial over the course of its season, unlike all the many shows about lawyers that had preceded and followed it, from Perry Mason to Ally McBeal, from Owen Marshall to Law and Order. In its own way Murder One was thus the predecessor of the much more popular but inferior in every way, 24 that depends on its own unique (in TV terms) story timeline to drive its this isn't just another TV show personality.

Watching the first season of Murder One again nearly a decade after I saw it the first time I was a bit taken back by how much the unlikely hero, the not the usual lead character bald and inscrutable defense attorney Ted Hoffman, shaped the professional personae I eventually adopted. Ted seems a bit emotionally distant, and in a film noir world his understated and quiet lectures and moral code have to be listened to and not merely heard as in most television dialogue. Ultimately the only weakness of the series was that the writers apparently didn't map out the entire season in advance and rather made things up as they went along (much like 24) so loose ends are introduced and go nowhere, and false leads come and go for no apparent reason.

I was marveling in this wacky new DVD technology and having the ability to watch some of my favorite TV shows that didn't exactly air more than once even if TV Guide wrote about them as the best TV shows that no one was watching I also found out that my favorite "new" rocker Ike Reilly had four "new" tracks available for Internet download only. I paid twice (my bad) to hear these four new tracks but I'm not exactly upset about that if it means in the end it ends why starving? artists like Ike have so little loose pocket change.

All four download only available tracks blow away any song I've heard this year as Ike's music is wont to do. The spacey tumbling momentum laden "B.I.G.O.T" relies on the cryptic chorus line, "You've got to breed a better bigot for the band" that Ike sings in a way that suggests he's aware of the need of the parallel sounding "big hit" to better his fortunes. I love the line about "I'm part of nothing. I wish I was though. Part of something bigger than myself now" which I think is something many of us struggle with at some time if we are anything other than neo-luddites. The likewise likable "Trainbomber" contemplates and anticipates the awful chaos of a blown up train and ensuing missing of friends. Ike sounds his usual weary and knowing and I just love the trick/track. "She's So Free" paints a picture of the ultimate woman in my book. She's so godless and faithless, she don't need riches, she doesn't slave for nothing and no one, she can't be loyal, she don't need negligee, she don't eat steak and she don't eat soy. Where does she exist exactly and how do I look her up? "Maybe on the Way Out" rocks hard with its torpedo driven guitar melody. I love how Ike's band, the Assassination not only backs what he has to say, but backs it so fiercely that not only a head bob but a nod of the head is mandatory at this point out.

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