Video du jour: The Wolf of Bedford Falls trailer

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Have you seen the trailer for Martin Scorsese’s”The Wolf of Wall Street” yet? I bet you have. I know I’ve seen it like half a dozen times at least. And so we both know how zip-bang/snap-flash it is. Kinda distinctive in that way, it seems to me.

And also to Owen Weber, who created a trailer for “It’s a Wonderful Life” in precisely the same style. The thing is almost a month old but this is the first time I saw it and it’s something to behold so, y’know, Merry Christmas.

BRUCE sightings: The Vatican, NPR and Jake Clemons’ book bag

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Some fun/exciting developments on the BRUCE front. And Dec 20 seems like the most perfect day to bring it up — it’s the 35th anniversary of the first Springsteen show I ever attended, at the Seattle Center Arena on December 20, 1978.

A stand-out night for me, and when I described the experience to Clarence Clemons in early 2011, and got to the part where my pal Bill Becker and I were hanging over the railing bellowing Bruuuuce! above where he and Bruce were walking arm-in-arm back to the dressing rooms Clemons nodded excitedly, as if some long mystery had just been clarified: “Ohhhh, that was you guys!” Didn’t crack a smile either, even after I started to laugh.

But anyway.

This week’s issue of The New Yorker features James Carroll’s profile of Pope Francis, which includes this surprising revelation about Antonio Spadero, one of the Vatican’s top Jesuits and editor of La Civiltà Cattolica:

“Before leaving Spadaro’s office, I looked again at the book on his table: it was “Bruce,” a biography of Bruce Springsteen. The book next to it—the breadth of a Jesuit’s interest!—was “Ratzinger: Opera Omnia.”

So that’s something.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune had a quick chat with Jake Clemons recently, who revealed that he’s been filling in his knowledge of his employer by reading you-know-which biography. Jake added some nice thoughts about the book but even I’m not narcissistic enough to re-type them and put them here, so I’ll just say: Thanks, Jake.

Lastly: I’ll be on National Public Radio’s “Here & Now” at some point after Christmas talking about “Born to Run” and that sheet of lyrics that sold at auction for nearly $200,000 the other day. I’ll post the airdate when I hear it, but also check yer local listings.

Lewis Lapham just published the worst essay ever written about comedy

But seriously, folks.

But seriously, folks.

The agate-eyed old man on the left is Mr. Lewis Lapham, former editor of Harper’s whose own writings have — as lovingly recounted in his author bio — earned comparisons to wordy mega-weights Mark Twain and Montaigne.

And yet his latest literary throw-down, the brutally titled America Needs Better Comedians, is a pedantic wind-fest that replaces actual knowledge of modern comedy/popular culture with a blizzard of French philosophers, a brief lesson in Elizabethan anatomical theory and a loving recollection of a prep school headmaster (“…a pious and confiding man, as grave as he was good.”) encountered in Connecticut in 1948.

When Groucho Marx’s name enters the text Lapham turns extra-turgid, reducing the anarchic performer’s comic subversions into that much more ivory-cloaked yammering: horseprof

With Groucho Marx I share the opinion that comedians “are a much rarer and far more valuable commodity than all the gold and precious stones in the world,” but the assaying of that commodity — of what does it consist in its coats of many colors, among them cocksure pink, shithouse brown, and dead-end black — is a question that I gladly leave to the French philosopher Henri Bergson, Twain’s contemporary who in 1900 took note of its primary components: “The comic does not exist outside the pale of what is strictly human… Laughter has no greater foe than emotion… Its appeal is to the intelligence, pure and simple… Our laughter is always the laughter of a group.”

Well, then. But let’s get to the heart of the attack presented in the headline (America needs better…): Why is Lapham dismissing all of the era’s comic voices? What is the overarching failure of the current, and at times culture-influencing likes of J Stewart, S Colbert, L. CK, “South Park” and on and on?

Lapham has no idea. At least, he never mentions them. Whether this is a function of his contempt or simple ignorance is unclear. Or so it seems until he finally does devote part of a sentence to a quick blow-by of the pitiful state of the genre, denouncing the “freeze-dried sound bites” dispensed at its most crucially important venues. Which, to Lapham, include: “Gridiron dinners, Academy Award ceremonies, and ‘Saturday Night Live.’

Gridiron dinners? Network awards shows? Weekend Update? These are the 21st century’s most vital outlets for modern humor? And no mention of “The Daily Show” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or “Louie” or the great sea of Internet podcasts, blogs, Bad Lip Reading/Funny or Die videos?

Um, no. Not even close. Not even a mile from being close. No matter, Lapham snatches up George Bernard Shaw for the capper: “My way of joking is to tell the truth. It’s the funniest joke in the world.”

True dat. But as Shaw knew, and Lapham apparently doesn’t, a little knowledge of your actual subject is pretty important too.

Art pirates strike in Seattle!

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My old pal, Boy Scout troop-mate, fellow Garfield Bulldog and Ted Nugent tribute bandmate Whiting Tennis grew up to become so accomplished an artist piratical dudes in Seattle are willing to steal a huge truck in order to get their mitts on it. The Stranger reports it like this:

HOTEL 2011

purloined painting #2

The truck was parked at the Holiday Inn Express parking lot. It was a Ford 350 model with the Oklahoma license plate 2TM878. All of the paintings, on canvas and wood, were wrapped in cardboard and plastic.

If you have any information, call SPD Detective Sargent Backstrom at 206-684-8948, or Auto Theft Detective Tracy Puffner at 206-684-4762. Or call Kucera at 206-235-0525.

The latest breaking news, less than an hour old, is that the truck has been found….but the art is still missing. So c’mon artsy people…keep an eye out for ill-gotten Tennis work.

Lou Reed: Valuable participant on the track team (and other high school secrets)

With a nod to his recent (and final) graduation, here’s our man stepping through the door beyond high school.
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