Jon Robin Baitz was already a successful playwright when he went to Hollywood to create ABC’s Brother’s and Sisters. The show was a hit for Baitz, but turns out, the city was anything but: “It was a nightmare. Just the fact that I came from New York and wrote sort of serious-ish plays, before I opened my mouth, there was a kind of trope going around the network already: ‘We can’t have any of the Baitzian angst.’”
After a lot of angst, Baitz got a one-way ticket back to New York where he wrote his new play “Other Desert Cities” (now playing at New York City’s Lincoln Center to great praise). It’s the story of Brooke, a writer who comes home for Christmas and reveals to her family that she’s publishing a tell-all memoir — about them.
But Baitz admitted to Kurt that breaking up with TV was messy:
You can hear more of Kurt’s conversation with Jon Robin Baitz on this weekend’s show.
Fast forward 29 years and the Tom Tom Club is releasing a tribute to the tune, it comes out today, and it’s called “Genius of Live.” The album features select tracks from their “Live at the Clubhouse” album along with recent remixes of the song created by lesser known artists like the Latin-fusion band Ozomatli, the electronic dance musician Senor Coconut, and Money Mark — he’s the guy who came up with the familiar keyboard phrase that opens and underpins Beck’s hit “Where It’s At.” Money Mark’s remix of “Genius” was, well, genius. He somehow managed to make it even more uplifting, almost gleeful. He adds random found sounds to his version like snippets of phone rings, a harmonica track and a woman mumbling words in German.
Tom Tom Club’s founding members, the husband and wife team of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, spoke to Studio 360 a few years ago about the artwork of James Rizzi — whose artwork is on the covers of three of their albums. They explain how Rizzi’s cartoonish and colorful drawings match perfectly with the sound and message of their music.
Tom Tom Club Fans were bummed when the band recently had to cancel some tour dates (it’s their first tour in ten years), but TTC is still set to play The Getty in Los Angeles on October the 9th. Check the rest of their tour dates here. Listen to all the “Genius of Love” remixes here.
This Memorial Day weekend kicks off the Lightning in A Bottle festival in Irvine, California. The four-day event bills itself as “equal parts music, art and green workshops” — and the name isn’t a bad description for the music of one of its headliners.
The musician and producer Daedelus, a kind of Thinking Man’s DJ who dresses up as a Victorian dandy, will perform music from his latest EP Righteous Fists of Harmony this Sunday 5/30 at 9:30pm.
Last week on Studio 360, Daedelus explained his unique sonic vision — a mixture of lush orchestral samples, funky breakbeats, and found sound— that, in essence, attempts to capture lightning in a bottle; what he calls music’s “Eureka! Moment.”
Not surprisingly, Daedelus’ visual style is just as arresting as his sound.
The Golden Globe Awards are this Sunday, and I’m excited, especially for one nominee. The buzz is all over director Kathryn Bigelow and “The Hurt Locker,” an action film about a bomb-defusing squad in Baghdad.
“The Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow (center) on set in Jordan. Photo by Jonathan Olley
Rickie Lee Jones - Malibu, California, 2009. (photo by Greg Allen)
This week on Studio 360, Kurt unpacks the songwriting inspirations of Rickie Lee Jones, the reigning “Duchess of Coolsville.” In this gem from the cutting room floor, she discusses the songwriter who makes her think “we’re made from the same part of God’s clay.” (Plus, don’t miss Kurt’s five-second debut as a back-up singer.)
Listen to Kurt’s full interview with Jones:
And check out Jones singing “The Moon Is Made of Gold” live in Studio 360.
"Mirror Image"; "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"; "The Hitch-Hiker"
Errant kid-carrying balloons, planes that overshoot the runway by 150 miles — these days, preternatural occurrences are the stuff of cable news. But 50 years ago, viewers tuned in to “The Twilight Zone” to get their weekly eeriness fix. Before the “The Twilight Saga,” and before “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF” became the creepiest show in TV history, Rod Sterling’s groundbreaking sci-fi series premiered on a Friday night in October 1959. Not only did it offer far-fetched premises and unexpected twists; there was also a heavy dose of social commentary shrouded in all of the fantasy and suspense.
This month has been full of “Twilight Zone” 50th anniversary commemorations across the country. Regional theaters in places like Tuscumbia, Alabama and Ben Lomond, California have produced stage versions of some of the show’s classic episodes. Binghamton, New York, Sterling’s hometown, hosted its own celebration. And if you’re reading this from Los Angeles, consider checking out tonight’s panel discussion and screening at the Egyptian Theatre. There’s also a lot to look forward to: Warner Brothers, in conjunction with Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, is developing a new “Twilight Zone” feature film for 2011.
And on a different sci-fi note, “Studio 360″ is planning its first ever live show in WNYC’s Greene Space on November 17, and it’s about time. The time travel-themed show will feature astrophysicist David Goldberg and forward-thinking funk singer Janelle Monae (along with her alter-ego Cindi Mayweather). We’ll broadcast the show later in the year, so you’ll literally be glimpsing into the future by joining us: tickets info here.
“No Particular Place to Go” as Chuck Berry sang in 1964 is as good a metaphor as any to describe the current plight of the U.S. auto industry. It was just announced that the once mighty Pontiac is no more, and at least two of the Big Three are in serious danger of being relegated to museum status. Ironically, a museum is where I recently saw an exhibit celebrating General Motors’ 100th (and perhaps final?) anniversary.
An exhibit honoring GM's 100th anniversary at the Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A.
The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is a rather impressive display of beautiful automobiles and the culture that grew up around them. It’s also a good place to learn about L.A.’s reputation for car customization and innovation.
An exhibit showing off L.A.'s grand tradition of customizing old cars
A recent visit to the Petersen inspired many of the ideas in our current, very timely episode on the future of the American automobile. The takeaway? If anyone can save Detroit, it might just be Los Angeles. Host Kurt Andersen takes a tour of L.A.’s singular car culture from hot rodders to low riders, old-school customizers to next-generation designers. And we get a glimpse of the future behind the wheel of the all-electric, super aerodynamic Aptera, one of several scrappy, independent car companies sprouting up all over southern California. Kurt concludes, “instead of the Big 3 we may have a return to the Little 10.”
My time in Los Angeles is coming to an end. I will miss the phantasmagorically perfect weather, the hiking trails (with coyotes!) 5 minutes from my house, the focused and talented students (and faculty) of Art Center, and all the interesting strangers who tend to be, I think, more gratifyingly…open than your typical New Yorker. But it’ll also be good to get back to a place where urban life teems just outside one’s front door, where I don’t have to drive everywhere, and where the city (physically as well as culturally and intellectually) is more coherent, more truly (or at least obviously) a city.
Coming up soon on Studio 360 will be further chronicles of my L.A. adventures and investigations — the car culture, a cool band from Tijuana, etc. — and for now here’s a link to a podcast I did with the L.A.-based Jesse Thorn of PRI’s The Sound of Young America.
The LA Times just did a nice feature about Kurt and his spring semester post as “Visionary in Residence” at the Art Center College of Design. Now if only they could get his name spelled right! They fixed it!