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Alex Carnevale

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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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Entries in robert de niro (3)


In Which We Chemically Enhance Bradley Cooper

Because He Got High



dir. Neil Burger

105 minutes

For whatever reason someone is trying to make Bradley Cooper a leading man. Okay, not for "whatever reason", specifically for his Crafted by Pilates (TM) abdominal area and that cocky facial expression of his that says "Gurl, I know where you hid those Girl Scout cookies." The problem is a star needs a starring vehicle that can go places, like to mainstream multiplexes. Limitless is not that vehicle. It’s more of a recalled Toyota that explodes into flames on the highway leaving the driver paraplegic.

B Coops plays Eddie, a newly single, science fiction writer who looks like 1998's Eddie Vedder. He has a serious case of writer’s block and an apartment reminiscent of the aftermath of an open Jumanji board. Eddie runs into his ex-girlfriend’s druggie brother on the street and ends up accepting an $800 black market trial drug, called NZT, that renders everything mentally “clear.” The pill enables him to finish his book in an hour. He earns millions on the stock market. He cleans his apartment real good. (And isn’t that is the problem with Adderall? You always swallow it with great intentions and 15 minutes later you’re on your knees, scrubbing the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, Israeli-army style.)

When he’s on the drug, Eddie inexplicably sees his surroundings through a fisheye lens, and struts down the street to a set list seemingly plagiarized from a “Rock of the Ages”-type radio station in Nebraska. It’s probably how Charlie Sheen experiences the world.

The tragedy of the movie is there may not be a worse person upon which to bestow the planet's last few super intelligence tablets. Watching Bradley Cooper gulp them down and proceed to waste his high transforming himself into a Brooks Brothers model feels somewhat unjust, like watching a goldfish eat a Peter Luger steak. Shouldn’t someone be crushing those up and spooning it into Stephen Hawking's mouth instead?

The most disappointing moment is when you realize Eddie’s voiceover narration pre-pill-popping wasn’t deliberately hackneyed - even with a four digit IQ he still says things like, "A fight? I don’t know how to fight. OR DO I?"

with costar abbie cornish

Of course the whole Better Living Through Chemistry imperative isn't without a few roadblocks. Eddie begins to get headaches. He starts forgetting how he spent huge blocks of time (we see one such period in a fast hazy montage — it involves gambling, drinking, effing models, and a fat bearded man. I assume it was a paid promotion for The Hangover 2.) Mysterious people attempt to kill him. The girlfriend whom he quickly wins back by ordering her sushi in fluent Japanese (women are so easy!) dumps him again, and this big focking CEO (played by De Niro, who apparently ordered Fredo to off his agent at some point in the last decade) tries to blackmail him.

But don’t think Limitless is anti-pharmaceutical. Bradley Cooper is just too beautiful to die, like the other plebes who get addicted to NZT do. This pat solution is very satisfyingly explained near the end when he taunts De Niro, "You actually thought that I wouldn’t learn how to overcome the side effects?" Um, yes? At least I did. Maybe the trick is you need to watch Limitless on brain-enhancing drugs for it to make sense, otherwise it's like looking at a hologram without 3D glasses. On that note: if anyone wants to send me some Adderall, I promise I will rewatch this movie and report back. Right after I finish exfoliating the grout on my bathroom floor.

Lauren Bans is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. You can find her website here. She twitters here.

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"In Every Sunflower" - Bell X1 (mp3)

"The Great Defector" - Bell X1 (mp3)

"Apple of My Eye" - Bell X1 (mp3)


In Which We Learn From Experience

Ways To Say No Thank You Sir


It’s no secret that I like older men. But I’m not going to be receptive to just any older guy. I can swing Bobby Kennedy, not Bobcat Goldthwait. I’m talking to you, creepy man at Barnes & Noble in Union Square who thought he was impressing me by telling me he was friends with some guy in the new Doors.

September 1984The new Doors? Really? If you look old enough to be my dad and you’re going to hit on me, then there really needs to be something to back it up. A few days ago a friend of mine and I were at a party where we were bombarded by an older guy who pulled all the stops, from bragging about his model ex-wife to gushing over his kids, saying that having children was “like having beautiful dogs.” He got points for candor and even more for creativity, but that’s all he got.

Here are some great lines to use when creepy older men invade your space. Because sometimes saying, “No thanks, I have to go” isn’t fun enough.

“Where were you when the Berlin Wall came down?”

“I guess John Mayer is the Leonard Cohen of my time.”

“Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”

“Gosh I graduated college so long ago. I still used a Razr! The iPhone hadn’t come out yet.”

“Where were you when that famous moon thing happened?”

“I can’t imagine not living with the Internet. How did you do it? How did you get anywhere without Google Maps?”

“You look familiar, are you friends with my mom on Facebook?”

“Were you around to see Gone with the Wind in theaters? That must have been so cool!”

“I never really got into Nirvana, they were a little before my time.”

“Was Ulysses S. Grant as badass as he seems in the history books?”

“I remember when I found out John Lennon died. I was so sad. Of course by then he had already been dead for, like, a really long time, but it still hurt, you know?”

“Maybe I’m weird but I just love older music, like U2. It’s just so different than anything that’s around today.”

“What was Ra the Sun God like?”

“That’s so awesome that you text, I had to teach my dad and I still don’t think he gets it.”

“Wow, you have a teenaged son? That’s so cool! I’m not even old enough to have a ten year old!”

“I love old movies, like Pretty Woman.”

“I can’t believe Green Day is still around.”

“What’s a Jeff Beck?”

Almie Rose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. You can find her blog here, and she twitters here.

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"Red River" - Rocky Votolato (mp3)

"Eyes Like Static" - Rocky Votolato (mp3)

"Where We Started" - Rocky Votolato (mp3)



In Which Absolute Fame Corrupts Absolutely

The Aura of Prosperity


The King Of Comedy came out twenty four years ago and it rings like a truth bell more than ever. Martin Scorsese's criminally underrated dark comedy is about fame and its pursuit. Not the lovingly sepia-toned version he rolled out in The Aviator that keeps chumps like me interested in the VF Hollywood Issue. ("Ooh! Hitchcock!") The King Of Comedy is interested in focusing on the chumps. What happens to the lowly consumer of culture who tries to reciprocate.

The King Of Comedy was written by Paul D. Zimmerman, who once said "If you're not cynical, you're stupid."

Fame is a one-way mirrored monologue masquerading as a conversation. Celebrity Worship Syndrome is a recognized psychological condition. Some people think it's at an all time high in America, corresponding with insecurity about the impending recession. I buy that, but it's not just America. The epidemic is worldwide. Celebrities represent our cultural Jungian archetypes.

Adult child beauty pageant queen Britney Spears is busy demonstrating the full spectrum of psychological conditions in the DSM IV on a world stage. Angelina Jolie is practically a fertility cult and Jennifer Aniston is the patron saint of jilted women. Whether you see yourself in Anna Nicole or Alan Rickman, no one is immune to identifying with celebrities.

They are our Olympians. They act out the same basic emotional dramas as mortals. Through invasive media we get to watch voyeuristically and make judgments from home. It's the concept behind social networking sites, blogs, American Idol and the election. That bizarre desire to be judged, to be evaluated and approved by strangers, is somehow innately human.

Scorsese's made a lot of films about celebrity. His Mafia films are about the localized version; neighborhood notoriety. It's basically the same idea. You get recognized and receive special treatment. People help you out and want to give you things.

But there's a malevolent flip side, which is that people want to tell you about themselves. They are helping you in the hope that you will give them something in return. You most likely can't and they will be disappointed. Fame is both convenient and a curse.

Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) is neither funny nor talented, but he wants to be a famous comedian. He lives in his mother's basement with a cardboard cut-out of Liza Minelli. He is sidesplittingly pathetic, which makes his drive to be recognized fucking hilarious.

Fabulous ginger dykon Sandra Bernhard, as Masha, gives DeNiro a run for his money in the 'genuine psychopath' school of performance. Masha's masking tape seduction of Jerry Langford is as uncomfortable as you imagine being forcibly raped by your lesbian stalker might be. (Unless you are Alex, who is gunning for lesbians to start stalking him.)

Scorsese excels at depicting the interior lives of poignant losers. Pupkin and Masha may be his most blindly confident losers and by that token, the most poignant. The film's "happy" ending is perhaps the darkest touch of all.

"I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you?"

You know the saying Kill Your Idols? Sometimes just meeting your heroes can be enough to destroy the positive illusions you've built up around them. You're generally better off not meeting them without a proper introduction.

Success begets other people trying to leech off that success. If people came up to you every day wanting something you can't really give them; the aura of prosperity, I imagine it would get tiresome really fast.

Jerry Lewis; Money, Cash, Hoes

But fans feel like celebrities owe them the courtesy of an encounter. Especially in the case of a comedian or a talk show host with a 'friendly' public persona that is supposedly also your 'real' one. How do you be a dick to someone badgering you for an autograph when you're, say, Conan O'Brien or Ellen DeGeneres?

Like the true cliche, a lot of comedians are deeply unhappy people. Sad clowns abound. It makes you suspicious of funny people. Humor is often a more socially acceptable form of more uncomfortable emotions like anger or sadness. Charismatic people are generally hiding some kind of insecurity or fatal character flaw behind their great personality.

no one knows what it's like to be the sad clown

Jerry Lewis seems like a testy enough guy to start. To coax this great performance out of Lewis, Scorsese had DeNiro shout anti-Semitic shit at him in character before shooting a scene. Lewis never finished his own jaw-droppingly offensive magnum opus, 1972's The Day The Clown Cried. The complete script is online.

TDTCC tells the story of a self-centered circus clown, Helmut Doork, who is sent to a concentration camp after a drunken impersonation of Hitler. There, he befriends the Jewish children of the camp, and performs for them, angering the camp Commandant. He is sent with the children on a train to Auschwitz, and there, he is expected to lead the children, like a Pied Piper, to the gas chambers.

The Larry Sanders Show really picks up where The King Of Comedy left off. I can't recommend that show enough. Judd Apatow (who wrote and produced Larry Sanders) has his own Pupkinesque anecdote about Steve Martin that he is surely sick of telling by now:

Apatow regaled an audience at the New Yorker Festival this weekend with the tale of how, on vacation in California as a boy, he had spotted Martin washing his car in front of his home. The young Apatow jumped out of the car and asked for an autograph, but Martin said he didn't give autographs at his home. "Please, we won't tell anyone," Apatow begged. Sorry, Martin said, but no.So Apatow went home and wrote Martin a nasty letter, in which he gave an early glimpse of his now well-documented talent for profanity. Three months later, he received a package from Martin that contained a copy of his book Cruel Shoes. "I'm sorry," read Martin's inscription. "I didn't realize I was speaking to THE Judd Apatow."

Top Twenty Movies About the Corrosive Nature of Fame

1. A Face In The Crowd

2. Sweet Smell Of Success

3. Ace In The Hole

4. All About Eve

5. Stardust Memories

6. Zelig

7. 8 ½

8. Opening Night

9. Nashville

10. This Is My Life

11. Being There

12. All That Jazz

13. I Shot Andy Warhol

14. Mulholland Drive

15. Boogie Nights

16. Cecil B. Demented

17. Showgirls

18. To Die For

19. Valley Of The Dolls/Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls

20. Glitter

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She lives in Los Angeles, and she tumbls right here for your pleasure, and she twitters right here for mine.

"Kundun! I liked it!"


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"Rock and Roll Nightmare" - Spinal Tap (mp3)

"Warmer Than Hell" - Spinal Tap (mp3)

"Gimme Some Money" - Spinal Tap (mp3)