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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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In Which You Genuinely Respect Her Character And Intelligence

Notorious Hillary-supporter Jack Nicholson spoke up for Hilldawg on the eve of what is destined to be her greatest victory. Relive Molly's classic jaunt in Nicholsonville nowsy.


Death of a Ladies Man

by Molly Lambert

"Look, I have Reichian therapy in my background. Early on, I had problems with that most common kind of impotence, being quick, suddenness, which is actually a kind of jitter from holding on too hard and not feeling things, which is part of what we’re talking about. It’s all about actually feeling it, not in some locality but in the larger sense of the experience passing through your being. In my lifetime, from World War II on, the world got freer, just by nature. And then [AIDS] came along, now we have the Death Fuck.”

- Jack Nicholson in RS 2006

Jack Nicholson is Erectile Dysfunction. He always has been, in all his films. He is the walking cinematic representation of impotence. The complete embodiment of the concept of Flawed Masculinity insofar as I've come to understand it. Did you know that an obsolete definition for the word impotent is "incapable of self-restraint"? It pleases me more than I'd like to admit watching The Hot Pole hit the brick wall known as Andropause so hard.

At a 1970 Hollywood party, a stoned Dennis Hopper turned to George Cukor - a gentleman of the old, studio school of moviemaking and the director of such classics as Adam's Rib and My Fair Lady-- and muttered, "We're going to bury you. We're gonna take over. You're finished." - from "Aging Bulls" Reason Magazine's review of Peter Biskind's book about Hollywood in the seventies.

See what I'm saying about Jack? The man IS the lack of an erection. Which is why he's so singularly obsessed with getting them onscreen. He finally got to whip out a huge black dildo in The Departed. You can sense Nicholson's glee at finally being free to be a Dirty Old Man, to turn out exactly like his buddy Marlon Brando. Since About Schmidt, he's become one of my favorite Jungian archetypes, the Man in a Flapping Open Bathrobe.

Ran is Lear in Edo Japan: "Help! My robe! It is flapping open!"

1981, when he was making The Postman Always Rings Twice, with Jessica Lange — a highly sexed-up piece that nonetheless features no nudity whatsoever. Jack, however, was dead set on making it "one of the naughtiest movies" and decided that the solution lay in showing an erection — "this kind of bulging railer" — through his 1940s pleated pants. To that end, he asked director Bob Rafelson to craft him a conventional prosthetic, but no one took him seriously, so when the day to shoot the scene arrived, he found himself empty-handed and irritated. Said Rafelson, "Well, jeez, if you’re so red-hot about this, go upstairs and see what you can do there." And so Jack did, "whipping away," he says, until he realized that some things were beyond even him.

I can only think of a few other Men In Flapping Open Bathrobes right now, Grady Tripp in Wonderboys, and Clare Quilty in Lolita, and the O.G. MIAFOBs King Lear and Job. Isn't Grady the name of the caretaker of The Overlook Hotel in The Shining? Jack's always come off like an arrogant cad, bathrobe flapping open proudly. Now he's a regretful old man in the same old frayed bathrobe, which has lost its matching belt.

"Je ne suis pas le mec Ratzo Rizzo"

Dustin Hoffman has what we call Jewish Overtalking Syndrome:

"I've been doing movies since 1967. Have I been involved in movies that had scenes that made this exchange look like nothing? And did we hear stories of Jack Nicholson throwing a television set across the room trying to kill Roman Polanski in Chinatown? Did Bill Murray not pick up the producer who was running Universal and throw her into the lake on What About Bob?" The names keep coming: Gene Hackman, Mel Brooks, Robert Duvall. "We heard these things constantly. And shouldn't that happen if it has to happen? Yes."

Oh plz Dustin, stop trying to get Bill Murray in trouble just because there is not a YouTube video of Bill throwing Laura Ziskin into a lake. Even if there were a video of said incident it would probably be really funny and win him even more cool points for referencing the scene in Purple Rain where Prince makes Apollonia bathe in the rivers of "Lake Minnetonka."

A sidenote, Tom Schulman, who wrote the screenplay for What About Bob also wrote Dead Poets Society, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, and both wrote and directed 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag. Did anyone sense an artistic continuity between those four movies? I am becoming more conscious of things like this all the time.


I heard a rumor that the flop Very Bad Things, a movie Comedy Central rotated in a continuous loop during the nineties with 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag, was based on a true bit of Hollywood lore. The story being that some seventies film luminaries, presumably including Polanski, Nicholson, and I think Robert Evans, had a hooker overdose or something at their place and they buried her in the desert Gram Parsons-style.

Were there points in the seventies at which Roman Polanski deserved to have a television thrown at him? Certainly. Jack Nicholson still deserves to have a television or two lobbed at him for the pathetic way he treated Anjelica Huston. But everyone loves Jack, even I like him these days now that his Erectile Dysfunction has really kicked in and his palpable sadness about his impending death pours out of him in every interview.

A Pack A Day Habit Makes Jack A Sad Boy:

Having been said to have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for most of his life, Jack Nicholson has confessed he's worried his smoking habit may have affected his health. "It is not so much that you fear that moment when somebody comes in and says, 'That's it. You're dead. You smoked too much,'" Jack tells the Los Angeles Times. "Well, that's not the real fear. The real fear is going through the process now and thinking, 'I'm dying of stupidity.'"

He's also desperate to fall in love again now that he's in his wintering years. His personal "bucket list" is "One last big romance." (uh, Lara Flynn Boyle's still probably free?) God Jack that's so cute I just want to squeeze your face! What a funny old man you've become. Did you not see the great film Carnal Knowledge, which you starred in?

Anjelica Huston: "U SNOOZ U LOOZ BETCH!"

I understand the eternal appeal of blunting your sadness with decades of drugs, drinks, smoking packs of cigarettes and whores. But you're so clearly a cool guy underneath it all who just wants to snuggle and gab. You are so dulled from overuse that you've started suffering Sexual Fantasy Block. Maybe you should scale it back a bit and see if that doesn't help.

Is anything more pathetic and poignant than bachelors going through Male Menopause? Somebody send Jack the last three seasons of The Sopranos. He's like an Irish-Catholic version of a Phillip Roth character. Not quite so stubborn, sadder and more willing to admit his mistakes, guilty as fucking fuck. The Irish are a loud, drunk, weepy, guilty, people.


“Look, I remember myself as a teenager, so I know I’m not going to be the first parent that ever outsmarted a teenager, and I’m not trying. All I’m going to say is, everything they say is bad for you, pretty much it is bad for you." - Jack's advice to his teenage children.

Here's a rather nice quote from Dustin Hoffman:

"One of the constants in my life is that I've never been bored, ever," he says. "Depressed, yes. I've been very depressed. I think it's a natural condition. I think we want life to be more than it is, somehow. But I don't know how you can be bored. Sometimes, you will be with someone who you feel is boring and I, as an actor, would say, 'What is the quality that makes that person boring to me?' And that's interesting, to deconstruct it."

Mike Nichols' floppedy The Fortune, starring Nicholson and Warren Beatty as con men, still isn't out on DVD. The studios banked on the stars for success and only gave Beatty the greenlight for Shampoo as part of a deal where he'd also make The Fortune.

GOIN' SOUTH! I love this poster

My favorite strange but true fact about Jack Nicholson; during the publicity blitz for Chinatown, one reporter digging up Jack's background found out that the woman who had always claimed to be his sister was actually his mother, and the woman he thought was his mom was really his grandmother. Jack had been told his father was dead, but he was alive and drunk in New Jersey. But then it turned out his (grand)mother had probably been knocked up by her manager rather than her husband. Oh Irish-Catholics.

Very Bad Things was written and directed by Peter Berg, who went on to make the excellent Friday Night Lights. He now writes the TV show (or, you know, was) and produced Lars and the Real Girl. Berg's next directing gig is a superhero comedy called Hancock starring Will Smith. I'll pretend not to be disappointed it's not a biopic of John Hancock starring Will Smith.

Jack Nicholson's Strange And Reprehensible/Incomprehensible View Of Women:

"These issues between men and women are not psychological. Look, remember what a gland is. Most of these are glandular issues. A gland is what allows that mother to lift that truck off a child. Whatever intelligent design is, it's not going to leave the continuation of the human species up to fashion-crazy, flitting mentalities. It's in those glands. The infatuation cycle of 18 months hasn't changed a lot since the monkeys. Look at the numbers. Eighteen months is nine months doubled. A woman's entire system is set so that when you're having that procreative act with a woman, you're dealing with a being whose actual cycle is nine months. It doesn't have to do with her brain. It has to do with her entire bodily system, which is there to overcome the brain. We don't legislate this stuff. We don't out-think it. You cannot change these fundamental things that we are as human beings--but you can adjust to it."

"Cunt is an acronym.’ ‘For what?’ ‘For can’t-understand-normal-thinking.’ Heh, heh, heh."

God that sounds like one of the grossly outdated sexist jokes from Mad Men. Bleccccch.

Jack on Catholicism, does this mean he is related to our very own Tess Lynch?!!:

"I've a very Catholic Irish grandmother, one of the Lynches. She is the root of the family, although my immediate family were failed Irish Catholics. So I had to haltingly investigate Catholicism by myself because nobody asked me to go to church. I was the oldest kid in my First Communion classes. In my opinion, if you're going to be theocratic, Catholicism is the most intelligent belief system. [My family was] Irish, and it manifested itself from an early age. I could always express my opinion, like everybody else, and things got talked about. I wasn't inhibited by anything."

Does anyone really mind that the old Easy Riders and Raging Bulls are being gradually replaced and restocked with Feminist Friendly Hollywood Good Boys like Will Smith and Ryan Gosling? I know I sure don't! I guess I'll be bummed out when my kids are like "Fuck you mom! We're going to the endless slumber party at the White House! President Miley Cyrus was right! Everyone over 30 should be shot point-blank in the face!"


Jack, with a potential new bride

Jack On The Dim Prospect of Finding True Love So Late In Life:

A little later on, both our composures regained, Jack lights up a cigarette, and through an occluding haze I ask him, “Do you think you’re a good guy?”

He doesn’t hesitate. “Yeah, I do. I’m pretty consistently well-intended. It’d be hard for me to recall where I’ve been underhanded.”

“Don’t you think cheating on your girls is kind of – ”

“I didn’t. I didn’t think so, no.”

“You didn’t think what?”

“That it was underhanded. I knew, for instance, when I got married, because of my libido – I was silently emanating to the above, ‘This does not mean there’s not going to be other women in my life. I’m taking certain vows here. [But] between you and me, let me be at least clear.’ There have been many times I’ve been totally sure, not having been put to the test, that it would be no problem for me to be, uh, what do you call it?


Monogamous. Yeah. But many times I’ve thought, ‘This is impossible for me.’ Someone once said, ‘It’s not loving that you miss. It’s being loved.’ I don’t have that primary sense. I haven’t given up hope, but most of my friends think I’m a little goofy in that area, which is why I knew I would be singular at this point in my life.”

Awwww....Oh, Jack. Look if you're serious about romance and ready to grow up for the last few years of your life, maybe you ought to call your great friend Diane Keaton. Your scenes in Reds together are so hot that you manage to easily outsex Warren F'ing Beatty and Something's Gotta Give was clearly made just as a ploy to set you up with her again.

You genuinely respect Diane's character and intelligence. That's probably more than you can say about any of the other women in your life including your sister/mother and grand(mom). Chances are good she'd probably tolerate (and might very well be way into) your fantasies about Eleanor Roosevelt. Give it a shot. Stranger love stories have happened in Hollywood.

Molly Lambert is senior editor of This Recording. Tippin for life!!!


"Between Halloweens" - The Matches (mp3)

"Their City" - The Matches (mp3)

"Future Tense" - The Matches (mp3)

the matches website

a band in hope wiki


George met BLDGBLOG's Geoff Manaugh.

A.C. Hawley turf-talked Friday Night Lights

We are trying to break your heart.



In Which We Are In Total Thrall of This Bread-Baking Hephaestus


Turn Back Time


On the platinum anniversary of Cher's Oscar

1987 was a good year for Cher: Suspect, The Witches of Eastwick, a popular fragrance, a pop-metal album, a bagel artisan boyfriend, and a best actress Oscar for Moonstruck. As Pauline Kael wrote, in Moonstruck, Cher was funny and sinuous and devastatingly beautiful.

Yes, beautiful. Like Fitzcarraldo's steamship lurching over a Peruvian mountain, Cher had arrived at a vertiginous instant of surgical perfection: nose, slimmed, teeth straightened and capped, mushroom cloud of hair, presumably not her own, but at least a believably natural hue. A few years later, she was sporting synthetic weaves and blue eyes, and promoting "The Shoop Shoop Song." That's not the Cher any of us want. Give us "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves"; give us "Half Breed."


I was smitten, maybe because she was a cross between my other two other childhood idols: Lynda Carter, who made being a brunette bearable (brown in the 70s and 80s was like ginger today) and Dolly Parton, who instilled honor in being a painted woman.


Some well-meaning relative bought me a bottle of Cher's perfume, Uninhibited. I listened to Cher's metal version of Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang" and to what I think is the best-ever unisex karaoke anthem, "If I Could Turn Back Time."


But really what appealed was the movie; not just the transformation of Loretta, Cher's dowdy widow, into permed, borough prom queen, but the pleasure of spending time in a Bococa brownstone with the family. (This is post-Godfather but pre-Sopranos).

I don't know, said my mother, if these characters are setting a good example. I think she disapproved of the scene in which, after a bloody steak and a glass of whiskey, Nicolas Cage throws over his kitchen table, hoists Cher in his arms and takes her to bed.


Obviously, Moonstruck is not a field guide to building intimacy. But it is the I-ching for Jungian romantics:

Why do men chase women?
God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. Maybe men chase women to get the rib back.

Why would a man need more than one woman?
Because he fears death.

On whether to accept an ill-chosen engagment ring:
Everything is temporary. That don't excuse nothing.

The correct response to an ill-timed "I love you"?
Snap out of it.


 There's also the definition of a good suit (comes with two pairs of pants); a good restaurant customer (a bachelor); the right meal to eat before a flight to Sicily (manicotti); the proper way to propose to a woman; and the exact time to hold a wedding (after mom's dead).

It's a corroboration of Norman Jewison's and the actors' skills that this dialogue is remotely plausible; they achieve exactly the right tone for the overheated characters. Imagine Al Pacino, who was originally pursued for the Nic Cage role, chewing through these lines:

I lost my hand. I lost my bride. Johnny has his hand, Johnny has his bride. You want me to take my heartbreak, put it away and forget it? Is it only a matter of time before a man gives up his one dream of happiness?


John Patrick Shanley's original title was The Bride and The Wolf, suggesting a scrapped Tarantino-Romero collaboration. Really it's a domestic drama with mythical dimensions.

Loretta wants to be a bride—will the groom be the safe choice (a lamb) or the dangerous one (a wolf)?

Nic Cage, festering like a bread-baking Hephaestus, is crazy like a wolf. Or so Loretta tells him when he relates why he lost his hand and his fiancée from a bread-slicing accident. You're a wolf. That woman didn't leave you. She was a trap for you. And you—you chewed off your own foot to get away.

Moonstruck is the last modern record of an adult receiving or perpetrating a hickey. It's also the last time a prosthetic could be seen as a plausible impediment to marriage (if only Heather Mills had been around as an example for Ronny).

It was released when Pauline Kael was still writing for the New Yorker, which means that there were still movies being made worthy of Kael plaudits. See Wes Anderson for further details.

Moonstruck has the visual dullness of mid-80s urban films, a bit of claret mixed in the granite and beige and inky palette. But Kael recognized its conceit: "it's an honest contrivance – the mockery is a giddy homage to our desire for grand passion. With its special lushness, it's a rose-tinted black comedy."



Maybe that's the danger my mother warned about; the movies suggests that under a particular planetary configuration, we will be *pleasurably* confronted by our repressed passions.

Karina Wolf is the senior contributor to This Recording. She lives in the West Village.



Lynn Xu is a genius.

I am not even entirely sure what this Molly post was about.

Luc Sante’s skill and wit was a matter of taste.



In Which Shia LaBeouf Returns To Stick His Circumsized Tie Clip Into Your Audition Tape

I Will Follow (Up On Shia LaBeouf With You)

by Molly Lambert

Now that America has officially declared Shia LaBeouf its number one official most favorite Jew, I thought you might like to see how fame has affected our little babka.

"Crush" -- Mandy Moore

So now we know why Shia starred in two horrible Project Greenlight movies, Spielberg was just trying to keep him on retainer for future superstardom.

It’s easy to see why Spielberg sees “every mother’s son” in Shia. He looks like every mildly greasy kid that’s even gotten an undeserved hand-job at Jewish summer camp.

Plus he’s got that whole modest working class charm going for him. He’s also got that thing people call Tom Hanksiness meaning he's cute enough to inspire flutters in preteen hearts, but not so handsome that he’s off-putting or threatening to the majority of (schlubby) men.

It goes with a willingness to completely embarrass oneself in the name of comedy, a skill Hanks honed on Bosom Buddies and LaBeouf learned on Even Stevens. Disney Channel is the premier venue for broad mostly unfunny slapstick and sound effects.

The uber-goobly Spielgz at 26, guess now we know why he grew that beard.

Being a child actor is a slippery slope, for every Shia there’s a few thousand little Cody Banks whose agents drop them at puberty:

"I Wasn't Prepared" -- Eisley

Let us not forget the strange fate of our own gen Y Shirley Temple:

"The Middle of the Road" -- Johnathan Rice

Is there any movie star these days that didn’t launch on the Disney Channel? Their star making machine is a well-greased wonder. There’s a direct line from Hayley Mills to Hannah Montana with plenty of Ryan Goslings and Jodie Fosters betwixt.

Shia with the terrifying child actor who played the character Beans on Even Stevens:

Shia on set of The Greatest Game Ever Played. A movie about…golf? Didn’t Caddyshack sort of finish that genre off?

Shia and Tim Meadows in Hawaii, from the Even Stevens movie:

Here’s his hippie clown parents:

His next project, from the dude who helmed Disturbia, is called Eagle Eye.

LaBeouf, who stars in the Michael Bay-directed DreamWorks/Paramount actioner "Transformers," is finalizing a deal to play a young slacker whose overachieving twin brother has died mysteriously. When the young man returns home, both he and a single mother find they have been framed as terrorists. Forced to become members of a cell that has plans to carry out a political assassination, they must work together to extricate themselves.

Thanks for reading, faithful T.R. teenyboppers. Stay tuned for more Black Mountain hits and (hopefully less of) Scarjo’s tits.

Molly Lambert is no longer the senior contributor to this recording. Just kidding, but she will not be permitted to read the site should ScarJo perish in some kind of freak boating accident--we are guessing.

"Ballad of a Bitter End" -- The Poems


We have begun our discussion of the best books so far this year.

Will discussed his favorite songs of the half year

Bill Hendrickson met his soon to be fourth wife.


In Which Molly Rides That Long Train Into the Land of Young Indiana Jones and His Jewish Flavored Posse

Harsh Beginnings

by Molly Lambert

"Shia is within everyone's reach," says Spielberg. "He's every mother's son, every father's spitting image, every young kid's best pal and every girl's possible dream."


Shia and his longtime girlfriend. They broke up because he was getting so much work. These pictures with the numbers on them are from his MySpace or something. Maybe from hers. I got them from here, which is the only gossip site worth reading.

LaBeouf's father was a professional clown. When Shia was 2 years old, the family put together a street act to raise cash. "Latins are into clowns," says Shia. "We were the only white family around, so we figured we could do the look-at-us thing and dance around like a bunch of idiots." LaBeouf's father stole a maid's cart from a Best Western, decorated it with paint and streamers, stocked it with hot dogs and shaved ice and took his family to the park in clown costumes to perform. "I hated selling hot dogs. I hated dressing up in clown," LaBeouf says. "But the minute somebody would buy into my thing and buy a hot dog from my family because of my shtick, my parents would look at me like, 'All right, man.' Besides performing, I've never had that validation from anything else I've ever done in my life."

There’s an LA Weekly cover story on Christian Bale this week where he discusses his transition from child into adult actor. He too was cast as the linchpin of a Spielberg movie, the considerably heavier “Empire of the Sun,” and fascinatingly enough, his mother was also a clown!

I don’t know if Christian Bale is really the greatest actor of our generation. I agree he’s versatile and good and all, but I definitely don’t find him dreamy the way the author of this article’s wife apparently does, as the author brings up a few too many times. I think it’s weird how many actors start as child actors. It gives lay to the idea familiarity breeds affection.

The authenticity that helps him ground those fantastic tales was earned through some harsh beginnings. LaBeouf grew up in Los Angeles' Echo Park, a mainly Latino working-class neighborhood, the only child of a drug-addicted Vietnam-vet father and a hippie-ballerina mother with a bum knee. "My family's lineage is five generations of artists who never made it," LaBeouf says. His first name, which rhymes with hi-ya, was the name of his maternal grandfather, a Catskills comic. His last name, pronounced La-Buff, is a name shared with his paternal grandmother, a Beatnik poet.

All of this makes me think about All The Real Girls, the David Gordon Green movie where Patricia Clarkson, as the protagonist’s mother, is a clown. Is there anything sadder than clowns? Is that why "Tears Of A Clown" is the saddest song ever written, or is because Smokey Robinson’s gorgeous falsetto voice sounds so vulnerable? Nothing like contrasting heartbreak with circus music to make it hurt the very hardest. In other David Gordon Green news, he just directed Pineapple Express, which won’t be released until August of next year. It’s written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who also wrote Superbad, this fall’s soon to be teen comedy blockbuster. Seth Rogen you know, of course, from This Recording counter-jammer Knocked Up. I read the script for Pineapple Express and have heard from people who’ve seen it that it’s hilarious. Hooray for the Judd Apatow harkened new golden age of comedy!

From an early age, LaBeouf was exposed to adult pastimes. With his dad he watched Steve McQueen movies and went to Rolling Stones concerts and AA meetings, where, at age 10, he learned to smoke and play cards. He met a kid whose surfboard he really liked. “He was on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman,” LaBeouf says. “He had all the stuff I wanted, materially. When you’re in school, if you’ve got the new Filas on, no one’s gonna punch you that day.” The key to new Filas, LaBeouf figured, was to get paid to clown around.

LaBeouf honed his chops on the actually not terrible Disney Channel show Even Stevens, about an upper middle class Jewish brother and sister in Sacramento. Christy Carlson Romano, who played the sister, was good too. She’s like a funnier less severe Anne Hathaway. He gained star traction the traditional way, by entering the Disney child actor slave factory at a young age, like every celebrity we now have. I’m talking about Gosling, Aguilera, Lohan, Spears, Timberlake and now, LaBeouf. LaBeouf is America’s new cute Jewish everyman, fulfilling a thirst America has not had quenched since the peak years of Elliott Gould.

“Don’t be scared old man, I got you!”

He talked his way into a stand-up gig at a comedy club in Pasadena, Calif. "My thing was the 50-year-old mouth on the 10-year-old body," LaBeouf says. He took to the stage in overalls, with a bowl haircut, and "the first words out of my mouth would be 'Listen, assholes,'" he says. "Sometimes I would bomb. I'd talk about personal stuff and instead of laughing, people would look at me like, 'Oh, man, I'm so sorry.'" The potty-mouthed-preteen act only took him so far, so at age 11 LaBeouf found an agent. In the phone book. "I called up and did my 5-min. routine," he says. "Agents are used to the parents pimping. They're not used to the kid pimping. They liked the fact that I tried." LaBeouf's agent, who still works on his team, paid for head shots, drove him to auditions and paid his family's rent. At the time, LaBeouf's father was in a VA hospital going through withdrawal. "It pissed me off that he wasn't around," says LaBeouf. "We weren't strong enough to talk bluntly about what was really happening.

Daddy issues, Jewish entertainer syndrome, and drugged out hippie clowns for parents? Shia makes Lindsay Lohan’s traditional Long Island family dramas look tame as hell. Is Shia really the Jewish Harrison Ford Spielberg has been looking for? Sorry Eric Bana, but if Seth Rogen’s character (and Jonah Hill’s for that matter) in Knocked Up are getting laid, it’s because of Shia LaBeouf, not Eric Bana. Here’s a picture to make Alex pale with rage.

Over the next few years, LaBeouf bounced from big studio projects like I, Robot and Constantine to indie resume builders like Bobby and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. His parents divorced; he made room for his dad at his place. And he began to draw on his complicated relationship with his parents in his work. In the coming-of-age drama Guide, LaBeouf's character struggles to connect with his emotionally distant father, played by Chazz Palminteri. Before filming a confrontation scene between the characters, LaBeouf called his dad from the Queens, N.Y., set and asked him to sing a James Taylor song. "Oh, Mexico, never really been, but I'd sure like to go," LaBeouf sings. "Every time he sings it, I just go nuts. That was one of the songs he would sing all the time when he called me from the VA hospital, not remembering he had sung it before. He'd be like, 'Shia, I got a new song.' That was the worst time in my life as far as our family goes."

LaBeouf is especially great in Holes, the Disney movie adapted from a book by Louis Sachar, author of the classic Sideways Stories From Wayside School. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s really worth renting. It’s like The Great Escape, starring a cast of multiracial tweenage males, each with a colorful nickname and personality quirk as prisoners at a desert camp where they have to dig holes in the sand. It’s terrific. Also I’d like to thank this recording for introducing me to Blitzen Trapper, my new favorite band I’d never heard of before. See, even I, the encyclopedia of musical and cultural minutae rendered irrelevant by the internet, find out about new things every day.

The affable LaBeouf, it appears, has plenty of bureaucrat in him. "This is just a bigger hot dog that I'm selling," he says, of acting. "It's the same type of thing. You get dressed up. You do your clown. And if somebody buys a hot dog, then I get Steven Spielberg goin', 'O.K., kid' instead of my pop now." LaBeouf has a tattoo on his right wrist that reads 1986-2004. "My childhood," he explains. "I've been working since I was 10; 2004 is when I decided I became an adult. It was a personal decision." When it's pointed out to LaBeouf that the AA meetings and agent hounding of his youth might suggest he attained adulthood earlier, he shrugs. "But I'm living in a child's world now," LaBeouf says. "A dream world. I go to sleep at night, and I feel like I just dreamed the whole day."

Do you hear that scrappy can-do attitude? Shia LaBeouf is here to bring back the sweetness to America. He is here to herald the post-Bush Green Age we are trying to enter before dark energy destroys the universe and the Decepticons finally win.

Molly Lambert is the senior contributor to this recording.

"I'm Not Crying" -- Flight of the Conchords

"Sally" -- Flight of the Conchords

"Inner City Pressure" -- Flight of Conchords

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