I got 99 problems, and all of ’em’s being happy,” bursts out Tyler Okonma—better known by his stage name Tyler, the Creator—on “Pigs,” one of the many disturbing looks inside the mind of this 22 year-old rapper on his new album Wolf. The pop-culture riff with a demented personal twist is Tyler’s signature move, and one that somehow keeps the listeners coming back for more.
This summer I have taken it upon myself to tackle John Steinbeck’s American epic East of Eden, a modern retelling of the biblical Cain and Abel story set to the backdrop of post-Gold Rush era Northern California—that is, Steinbeck’s own backyard. Summer is, for students at least, that blessed time of intellectual freedom during which schoolwork means almost nothing to you and you are free to read, write, study, and contemplate whatever you wish.
The first time I saw the band Yuck perform live, I had never heard of them. They were simply the group warming up for Smith Westerns on a Friday night at a hole in the wall in downtown Nashville. I saw their name on the marquee above the venue and thought “Yuck” sounded weird and off-putting. When they took forever to set up on stage, I went from skeptical to hostile: “Who do these guys think they are? They’re just the warm-up act!”
There is always an interesting tone to the buzz around the release of a new Wes Anderson film. People wonder if the new film will stick closely to Anderson’s unique style in order to satisfy his cult following or if it will lean more toward the mainstream in an effort to garner more fans and more box office success. These are valid questions and concerns.
It happens more often than perhaps it should: a celebrity, be it rock star, movie icon, or stud athlete, is upheld on a pedestal for many years during his or her career, only to come crashing down at some shocking revelation that leaves fans disappointed and disenchanted. Sunday, February 4th left me with a similar feeling, when it was proclaimed over various social media outlets that Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York apartment with a needle in his arm and significant amounts of heroin in the vicinity.
Blue Valentine writer and director Derek Cianfrance’s latest film The Place Beyond the Pines is, if anything, a study in what Robert Penn Warren, legendary 1940s author of All the King’s Men, calls “the awful responsibility of Time.” We begin with Ryan Gosling’s character Luke Glanton, a reckless circus-performing motorcyclist. Seemingly out of nowhere, Luke has great responsibility thrust upon him when an old flame from an upstate New York carnival stop steps back into his life with his infant son.