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The NBA playoffs will continue, albeit without the Lakers, the team will retool this summer and Phil Jackson will absorb the massive doses of irony and perspective that have jolted him during these harrowing few days.

LONGER DAYS MEAN A SHORTER WEAKEND PLANNER

We Don’t Really Have Time for This Crap Right Now, but We’re Doing It Because We Know How Much It Means to You, Our Loyal Reader

It happens every year in the spring: Daylight Savings Time and warmer temperatures bring about a renewed desire here in the cesspool to get off our jiggly bondoons and hit the great outdoors, where we attempt to work up a sweat while breathing still-reasonably fresh air, at the same time switching from Double Doubles with fries to salads at lunchtime. We’re also swimming, spinning, golfing (is that a sport?), playing tennis, pumping iron, doing mat pilates and crunches, all in a probably futile effort to avoid abject mortification when we bare our bodies this summer. For the devotees of spectator sports among us, the working out must necessarily be done early in the morning, leaving the hours between work and bed free to follow the NBA and/or NHL playoffs, cocktails in hand. Life is all about balance.

WEAKEND POPCULT TOP 10
1. The Mighty Ducks:
First it was the Angels, now Anaheim and all of Southern California are going crazy over the Ducks. Who could’ve predicted it? First, they sweep the defending Stanley Cup champ Detroit Red Wings and now are on the verge of a second sweep (this time of the Minnesota Wild) that would put them in their first Stanley Cup Finals in the 10-year history of the franchise. So what’s going on? Simple—the Ducks are gettin’ “Giggy” with it (with apologies to Will Smith, of course). His name is J.S. Giguere, he’s the goalie, and he is unquestionably the hottest player in the NHL right now. Giguere is the first net-minder in history to record three straight shutouts in a Conference Finals series and, if he gets another one Friday night, he will shatter the all-time NHL record for consecutive scoreless minutes by a goaltender. Ironically, this man may very well be the next Patrick Roy, yet, due to the fact the he plays most of his games in the Western time zone, until recently, virtually no one even knew who he was! Well, they know now, and the Ducks seem a lock for continuing their Cinderella post-season run. Oh, and did I mention that Paul Kariya is now getting hot, too? Finals, here we come. —MF

2. Sam Roberts—Canada's Next Rock & Roll Star? There’s a big wind blowing down out of Quebec; Sam Roberts is a dynamic young guy out of the Montreal scene (formerly with the band Northstar) with memorable songs and a distinctive sound whose live performances have generated a growing and rabid following. MapleMusic, a label/website focusing on Canada’s indie-rock scene, has put out Roberts’ first six-song EP, The Inhuman Condition, and it’s simply sensational. Working with producer Jordon Zadorozny (Blinker the Star), who also drums on the record, Roberts plays all the other instruments, and the two musicians lather up some irresistible grooves, along with hooks that simultaneously reference Revolver, early Joe Jackson and Jane’s Addiction circa “Been Caught Stealing.” The video for the latest single, the epic “Where Have All the Good People Gone?,” got added into heavy rotation on MuchMusic this week, as Roberts and Zadorozny put the finishing touches on the album, which will contain most if not all of the EP tracks and is earmarked to come out stateside on Universal. Other EP highlights: “Brother Down,” which boasts a groove to die for and sounds like a potential U.S. smash, and the chunky, New Wave-referencing “Don’t Walk Away Eileen." Order the EP from www.maplemusic.com or www.samrobertsband.com. —BS

3. Buzzcocks: Inventory (EMI Capitol): Hearing these singles reissues from EMI Capitol (see below) makes me a little wistful, not just for my lost youth (hell, a McDonald’s ad can set that off) but for the demise of the single as a consumer item. The initial success of Apple’s iTunes underscores how much folks like to be able to buy single songs, and collections like this one are a vivid reminder of the excitement a new punk-rock seven-inch import used to engender. Of course, if said single came from Manchester’s incredible Buzzcocks, it was truly a special occasion. The retrospective Buzzcocks: Inventory, due in stores June 10, practically merits a national holiday. Pete Shelley and mates, like many of their compatriots, fused art-school politics and sexual ambivalence with the Sex Pistols’ assaultive brevity, and the result was a roiling, roof-raising racket. But Shelley had a flair for melody that recalled Ray Davies, and the band was wonderfully tight. The songs speak for themselves: “Orgasm Addict,” power-pop-gem-cum-TV-spot-theme “What Do I Get?” “Noise Annoys,” the cheeky groove “Why Can’t I Touch It?” the madly bouncy “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,” “Something’s Gone Wrong Again,” the devastating “I Believe” (with its gathering refrain, “there is no love in this world anymore”). You can even hear co-founder Howard Devoto on a few tracks, before he founded the more cerebral (but wonderful) Magazine.
—SG

4. Heeb Magazine: This is the third issue of the publication dubbed “The New Jew Review,” started in part with a grant from big Hollywood Heeb Steven Spielberg, and it’s more than coming into its own. The new issue boasts a gala “Battle of the Bar Mitzvah Bands,” judged by a group of 13-year-olds, a story on the rise and fall of Jewish comedy and a photo spread on the Jewess, featuring categories like “Big Nosed,” “Nerdy” and “Zaftig.” There’s also a short story by Erik Himmelsbach on lusting after Shane Goldberg’s breasts in seventh grade. With hebe-hop pioneers M.O.T. in negotiations for a film and new songs in tow (shameless plug), the emergence of rappin' mameleh Vanessa Hidary, rock en espanol group Hip-Hop Hoodios and soulful Jewish rapper Etan G., the emergence of Hebrews Mit Attitude is a welcome cultural about-face. And no small raising of the traditional Jewish self-effacement bar to a new postmodern relevance. —RT

5. The Thorns at the Troubadour: The self-titled album from the trio of Matthew Sweet, Shawn Mullins and Pete Droge comes out Tuesday on Aware/Columbia; it’s a resolutely pretty and tuneful record on the surface whose musical intricacy and dramatic depth reveal themselves progressively, through repeated listens. But as impressive as the album is, it can’t possibly compare to experiencing the group’s magnificent vocal blend up close as they create it. The Thorns have thus far done a handful of acoustic showcases as a trio; they’ll make their debut as a full band Tuesday night on Leno, following it Wednesday with a performance at the venerable Troub, with the classy unsigned artist Steve Reynolds opening. When they strap on their Gretches and Rickenbackers in front of a rhythm section, will it be Deja Vu all over again? I can’t wait to find out. —BS

6. Marilyn Manson at Key Club: Welcome to the cabaret, my friends. It was more like the Weimar Republic circa Berlin 1929 than the Sunset Strip 2003, as the former Brian Warner, looking like Lon Chaney in the original Phantom of the Opera, took the stage in front of an industry crowd to mark this week’s release of his new Interscope album, The Golden Age of Grotesque.  The half-hour mini-set was preceded by a performance from Manson’s girlfriend, Dita von Tease, cavorting in an onstage martini glass like a real life Vargas gal. It was almost as quaintly nostalgic as what followed, which doesn’t seem anywhere near as shocking as it did back in the days before 9/11, even with Manson spewing water and firing empty bottles at the VIPs in the balcony. Still, you have to credit the savvy rocker with returning to in-your-face metal aggro on “This Is the New Shit” and the first single, the soccer hooligan-like chant “mOBSCENE” (featuring a pair of semi-nude models on-stage) before closing with two classics in “Beautiful People” and “The Dope Show.” But it was the Brecht-Weil alienation of “The Golden Age of Grotesque” that showed Marilyn is up to more than simply pandering to teenage angst. Even if he did take an opportunity to wonder aloud where all his fans were and to blast “all the bald, cock-sucking rock critics who can’t get laid” in attendance. “Even my father can get laid,” he said. Manson offers pretty concrete proof of that. —RT

7. Planting Flowers: Turning the dirt gets you grounded in a world gone crazy like nobody's business: You start smelling that fecundity, and you remember where everything ultimately comes from. Just finished putting in a major bed of geraniums—digging holes, pulling out of the pots, dropping into the holes and gently patting down. It's a sun-soaked afternoon. It's a whole summer and well into the fall of poor man's hydrangeas (with none of the headaches)—and big arrangements whenever and wherever I need them. Step outside and it's an instant smile. —HG

8. The Black Keys, thickfreakness (Fat Possum/Epitaph): The White Stripes parallels are considerable—guitar/drums lineup, Midwest base (in this case, Akron), indie cred—but make no mistake, guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney are a dyed-in-the-wool blues band. Where Jack White refracts blues moves, Auerbach swallows them whole, with the relish of the first-generation electric blues bands. Like ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Free’s Paul Kossoff—and White as well—Auerbach’s playing is all about rhythm and tonality; once he comes up with a riff and a sound he likes, he’s content to crank it out ad infinitum. This single-mindedness, along with the sparseness of the instrumentation and the severity of the 12-bar-blues form itself, makes for a strikingly pure and monochromatic album. And Auerbach’s vocals are as gutbucket as his playing. If you like it raw, this is for you. —BS

9. Promo Weasel Stupid Site of the Week: I’m doing you a favor, you little prick: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/pesci.html  —TH

10. NBA Playoffs—Unful-Philled: This has been some week for Lakers coach Phil Jackson, starting with the angioplasty Saturday to clear an arterial blockage that might have otherwise caused a massive heart attack, returning to the bench Tuesday as a furious comeback by his team ended in defeat when a three-point shot by frequent game winner Robert Horry rimmed out, learning on Wednesday that his longtime Knicks teammate, friend and contemporary Dave DeBusschere had died of a heart attack and looking on Thursday as the Lakers’ three-year run of championships and his own remarkable skein of 25 consecutive playoff-series wins came to an end. The playoffs will continue, with the Mavs and Kings in a dramatic Game Seven showdown Saturday, the Lakers will retool this summer and Jackson will absorb the massive doses of irony and perspective that have jolted him during these harrowing few days. —BS
 
THERE’S SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW
Duran Duran, The Singles 81-85 (EMI Capitol): When it comes to guilty pop pleasures, I’d personally have to hand the '80s crown to Duran Duran. Their proficiency with hooks usually balanced out their penchant for cheese just enough—enough to keep me from changing the station, that is. At their best, they summoned the natty British glam vibe developed by Bryan Ferry and added shameless synth-disco instrumentation, smirky sex and new-wave attitude, whipping up delicious dance-pop fluff. At their worst, they managed to be both panting and pretentious—in which case they were good for a laugh. Simon LeBon’s thin, often whiny voice was that of an aristocratic young perv, which suited the era to a tee, and the band had an uncanny talent for making awkward white kids shake their butts. EMI Capitol’s new box set, The Singles 81-85, is a handsome package: a sleek black box stuffed with 13 CD maxi-singles. If you, like me, lived your late teens and early twenties while these tracks dropped at radio, hearing them now will bring back a rush of bad haircuts, sexual frustration and over-the-top video imagery. But I found myself digging several of these songs even more than I remembered: the ultra-sleazy “Girls on Film,” the slinky “Rio,” the arid but madly uptempo “Planet Earth,” the irresistible “Hungry Like the Wolf,” the percolating “New Moon on Monday,” the insistent “Is There Something I Should Know?” and even, God help me, the ponderous post-disco anthem “The Reflex.” There are some godawful turkeys, too (why on earth were these guys asked to do a James Bond theme?), but fill your changer with these puppies (each disc includes B-sides, remixes and/or live tracks) and odds are you’ll rock your party. And since you won’t need to spend too much time poring over the liner notes, you can unfold the booklet and flip it; the reverse is a gloriously goofy poster that practically reeks of hair gel. Simon Glickman

SHINY ROUND THINGS
Blue Man Group, The Complex (Lava):
At once avant-garde and unabashedly mainstream, makeshift and high-tech, founders Matt Goldman, Phil Stanton and Chris Wink’s first foray into music with lyrics is a natural. Combining the packaging acumen of Warhol with the tribal-beat “Stomp” of the “Tubulum,” their patented PVC vinyl pipes, BMG apply their approach to the seductive single “Sing Along,” with vocals by Dave Matthews and tweaking from turntablist Dan the Automator. The paint-splattered proggers prove equally adept at updated psychedelia (a cover of “White Rabbit” with singer Esthero), wall-of-grunge rock (“The Current” with Bush’s Gavin Rossdale) and techno-clash (a pounding “I Feel Love” with Venus Hum siren Annette Strean channeling Donna Summer). Evoking the sense of our anomie in the face of advanced technology, these visual artists prove worthy of being heard as well as seen. Roy Trakin

Ashley MacIsaac, Ashley MacIsaac (Decca): As if to literalize the name of his homeland, Nova Scotia, violinist-keyboardist-singer MacIsaac modernizes Celtic traditions with pop forms, electronica and hip-hop beats. His eponymous third album finds him singing more than ever—with impressive grit and soul—and playing with such fervor that one imagines sparks flying off his strings. He kicks things off with a grooving revision of Nick Drake’s “Cello Song,” while originals like “Lay Me Down” and “Save Me From Tomorrow” (sung by Ashley’s sister Lisa) blend traditional lilt and contemporary soul. And if the album’s take on the Wings classic “Mull of Kintyre,” sung by Default’s Dallas Smith, doesn’t give you goose bumps, there’s something wrong with you. —SG

Cold, Year of the Spider (Flip/Geffen): Dispensing with alt-metal convention for their third album, the boys from Jacksonville have set an adventurous new course, but not for happy reasons: The album’s intensely personal lyrics arise from singer/writer Scooter Ward having found out his sister and girlfriend both have cancer. Against that unfortunate backdrop, however, Cold makes its most gut-wrenching, melodic and harmonically ambitious music to date. Having Rivers Cuomo co-write and co-sing the single (“Stupid Girl”) sends a powerful message, and track by track, the band proves it has shifted gears creatively. “Cure My Tragedy (A Letter to God),” “Sad Happy” and Kurt Cobain elegy “The Day Seattle Died” each define a deeper, multifaceted style. This feels like a career maker. Jon O’Hara

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
The Matrix: Reloaded (Warner Bros.)
Premise: Sequel to the blockbuster, in which the machine world invades the land of Zion to put down a rebellion by the humans, led by Keanu Reeves’ Neo, Carrie-Anne Moss’ Trinity and Larry Fishburne’s Morpheus.
Stars: Reeves, Moss, Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Monica Bellucci and Nona Gaye, with cameos by boxer Roy Jones Jr. and black political pundit Cornel West.
Director: Andy and Larry Wachowski look to build a franchise.
Thumbs Up: The action sequences try to one-up their groundbreaking predecessors, while the original cast returns in what will undoubtedly be the summer’s major blockbuster.
Thumbs Down: Critics have turned thumbs-down on the sequel’s middle-child status, its poker-faced characterizations, its lack of any emotional resonance.
Soundtrack: Two-CD Maverick/Warner Bros. album includes single by P.O.D., tracks by Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Unloco, Rage Against the Machine, Oakenfold and composer Don Davis.
Website: www.whatisthematrix.com is, no surprise, one of the most elaborate ever, with an emormous 144kb of info, including TV spots, production notes, news, international art, theatrical trailer, posters, “philosophical section” and the short “Animatrix” films.

Down With Love (20th Century Fox)
Premise: Stylized, ‘60s-style homage to the Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies about a budding romance between a womanizing journalist and playboy and a strident feminist advice columnist.
Stars: Ewan MacGregor, Renee Zellweger, SNL’s Rachel Dratch, Frasier’s David Hyde Pierce, Tony Randall (who co-starred in many of those Hudson/Day flicks), Melissa George, Ed Sullivan imitator Will Jordan and Vivien Lathan as Judy Garland.
Director: Peyton Reed (the cheerleader hit Bring It On and several “Wonderful World of Disney” remakes, including The Love Bug and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes).
Thumbs Up: Art-directed to kill, with charismatic leads and female demo counter-programming should land it some box office.
Thumbs Down: Probably needs someone like Todd Haynes to get at the homoerotic subtext, but this one looks like it’s being played for light comedy, not social commentary.
Soundtrack: Reprise Records album ncludes title track by Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Here’s to Love,” a new song sung by McGregor and Zellweger. Also: new David Foster discovery Michael Buble, Marc Shaiman, Esthero and Astrud Gilberto.
Website: www.Down-with-Love.com is pretty elemental, but it captures the stylized look of the film. Also includes a plot synopsis, cast, crew and production notes, downloads, a trailer, photo gallery, movie clips, a Down with Love quiz and a “Bachelor Pad” game, with some ‘60s-style pop-jazz music playing in the background.

DENISE’S WEAKEND COCKTAIL
It’s really hard coming back to smoggy and overcast from a place that has clean air and is always sunny. This week has been a struggle for me. My sinuses are totally out of whack due to going from zero humidity to 95% humidity, and then returning to no humidity. My friend was going to kidnap me and keep me there, and I was going to let him, but I suddenly remembered my dog was here in L.A., so I had to at least come back for him. Now I’m sitting at my desk, longing for Pina Coladas, an ocean view and my best guy friend. I’ll soon be back to normal—once my lungs refill with pollution and I forget what laid-back living feels like. This week’s cocktail is for anyone who wishes to escape into a world quite different than the one in which you live.

Miami Vice (From The Cove in Deerfield Beach, FL)
Fill the bottom half of a glass with frozen Pina Colada
Fill the top half of the glass with frozen Rum Runner

Pina Colada
1 oz. rum
Fill with Pina Colada mix

Rum Runner
1 oz. rum
oz. of both blackberry brandy and crme de banana
Splash pineapple juice and orange juice
Float Myers Rum on top

This cocktail can be a hassle, unless there are multiple people drinking it, so it’s perfect for your summer barbecue. Make an entire batch of each and mix together as I described. With each recipe, add the ingredients and ice into blender and blend until smooth.

The cocktails combined with the hot weather and the comfort zone only a close friendship can offer, has sent my mind spinning; now I find myself questioning my current direction in life. It was nice to see that “normal” people and situations exist in other parts of the country. My three and a half years in LaLa Land have given me an unrealistic perspective of life. I’ve become one of those individuals I swore I’d never become—single, bitter, alone and happy with it. The reason so many people who live here tell themselves that they don’t need to be married, have a family, etc., is because it’s easier than facing the reality of not having it. For some reason, a lot of us feel like we can’t have passion for two things—our dreams and a partner. Since I’ve been here, I’ve dated one guy after another who couldn’t possibly fathom being married or having kids until they make it. Everyone knows the odds of someone making it in this city, which leaves us with the epidemic of the “confirmed bachelor”—the man who’ll never marry or commit. And, to make it worse, role model George Clooney has made this lifestyle more than acceptable; he’s turned it into a fad.

So, I’ve made a major dating decision—no more Clooney-ites for me. I’ve discussed “smart dating” in the past. It’s choosing the person who makes you feel good, special and beautiful, instead of the one who puts you through heart-wrenching agony. I’m throwing my feminist ideals of not needing a man out the window as I’m cruising at 70 mph on the 405 South. I may not need a man, but I certainly want one, and not just any Joe Schmoe—someone who makes me feel like the goddess I am. Please send pictures and resumes to…kidding.

De’s bar pick of the week: Well, it was tough picking only one place in South Florida, so I’m including all of my favorites.

Best place to eat and drink on a hot afternoon: Two Georges sits right on the Intracoastal Waterway in Boynton Beach. If you have a boat, you can drive right up to the deck. The food was awesome, and the staff was the best I’ve seen in a very long time. The bartender didn’t even bitch about having to concoct my specialty drink—a Three-Legged Dog.

Best mix of pretty people and rednecks: City limits, in Delray Beach, has both indoor and outdoor live-music stages. Outside you’ll find the tanned and pretty young people, which South Florida is known for. Once you go inside, it’s like entering the Twilight Zone. Drunks with bad hair and bad outfits tried out their bad dance moves to a cover band that wasn’t that bad. It was highly amusing.

Best Seafood: The Whale’s Rib, in Deerfield Beach, served up the best seafood I’ve had in a long time. It’s small, loud, unpretentious and always packed, but definitely worth the wait. Here’s a little tip—forgo the hour wait for a table and grab one of the bar stools, which are first come first serve.

Best place to chill out and talk in South Beach: I only spent one night in South Beach, but I absolutely loved it. I did the normal tourist thing and walked by the Versace Mansion. By the way, how demented is that—people ogling at the place where someone was blown away? After I finished being morbid, my friend and I strolled a few blocks to the Clevelander. We lucked out by having a drunk give us his barstools, which is where we stayed for the next four hours. South Beach is funny that way. You go into a bar, hang out, and when you finally get back to your car, it’s 4 a.m. I loved this joint because it was mellow, and I didn’t feel like I was back in L.A. at a club full of plastic pretty people, which is also the same reputation South Beach has. I did my job. I wanted a cool place where I could sit outside with my friend, have some cocktails and not be bothered.

De’s diss of the week: Overall, my mini-vacation was fabulous, but one thing really irked me—sea lice. I never knew such creatures existed, but they do; and from what I hear, they can be very annoying and itchy. Anything with the word “lice” in it scares the hell out of me, spawning memories of my entire elementary class standing in line at the nurse’s office, waiting patiently for our turn at the “comb test.” Out of pure fear, I didn’t go into the water.

I wish I could say that I was happy to be back, but I can say that I’d miss my dedicated fans if I didn’t return. You guys are great. Thanks to those of you who continually send your praises and best wishes, and the presents are great too! Until next week—hugs and kisses. Denise Bayles

Contributors: Denise Bayles, Darren Cava, Mark Feather, Holly Gleason, Simon Glickman, Todd Hensley, Jon O’Hara and Roy Trakin

Edited by Bud Scoppa

 

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