Friday, November 02, 2007

Pop Culture Roundup

This week I read American Gangster, which was the basis for the Denzel Washington movie of same name that is coming out soon. These are a series of articles written by journalist Marc Jacobson, all based on people and events in New York City. The piece on Frank Lucas--the drug kingpin who basically ran Harlem in the 70s--is longer than the others, chronicling his childhood and rise to power. It details how he smuggled heroin into the U.S. in the coffins of dead soldiers being shipped back from Vietnam, and how he'd hang out with the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr. But Jacobson also tells stories of the Village Voice losing its soul to the New Times, 9/11 conspiracy theorists who believe it was an inside job, hating the Yankees, and the love story between an escort and her pimp. These aren't hard news stories so much as human interest pieces, and they're fascinating glimpses into the weird, complicated, unique world of New York City.

On Halloween, the Sci-Fi Network had its second annual Live Ghost Hunters show, which they held this year at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, in which thousands of people died of TB and at which TAPS had experienced so much the last time they'd investigated it. This six-hour long live show featured the ability for viewers to log onto the Sci-Fi website and watch different camera feeds, as well as hit a "Panic Button" if they saw something they think the group should look at. In a shameless bit of cross-promotion, ECW's Elijah Burke investigated with them as well (just like CM Punk did last year), and he mostly followed the others around and said things like, "Whoa...this is creepy." They did catch some stuff, though. In one hallway where it is believed that the ghost of a little boy hangs out, they'd placed a rubber ball that moved several times over the course of the evening. The show went until three in the morning, and we conked out around midnight. For shame.

Have you ever started liking a band because of the latest stuff you hear on the radio or the internets, but when you start listening to their earlier stuff you can't help but think, "What is this crap?" That was me with moe. this past week. I picked up No Doy, which is one of their earliest albums (and because it was $10 at Best Buy), after loving later songs such as "New York City," "Faker," and "Captain America." The album is hit and miss...maybe as a fan of so-called "jam bands" I shouldn't be complaining about lyrics, but they've really got some ridiculous happy-go-lucky fluff on this one. The music itself is better, with some good jam breaks. Still, it won't ever be my favorite.

Around the web, in honor of it now being November, here's Jim Gaffigan making fun of holiday traditions.