Saturday, November 16, 2013
The other day I was making a mixtape for a girl I dig. Yes, I’m 30 years old and I’ll still make a shawty a mixtape. What of it?! Anyhow, I was choosing some cuts; an old Janet track from 1989’s Rhythm Nation, a little “Into the Groove”, etcetera. Somewhere along the line though, I found myself searching for a tune that got a little more specific. I thought to myself, I really dig this girl’s sense of style. I wish there was a song that mentioned that. Oh, and her hair is so curly and wild! Is there a jam that calls that out? She’s such a sweetheart, doing cool little things for me. There can’t possibly be a song that fits that in there too. In fact, Thunderbirds, there is such a jam. “I Like It”, the 1982 hit by Motown family band, DeBarge. DeBarge consisted of sister Bunny and her brothers Mark, Randy, James, and El. El was the main singer and songwriter, his signature falsetto helping to score some much needed hits for the Motown label during an era when they were on the decline. “I Like It” was the lead single from DeBarge’s sophomore album All This Love and it’s a spectacularly smooth jam. Opening with a killer bass line by “Ready” Freddie Washington (this is the dude who laid it down on “Forget Me Nots”/”Men In Black” so he’s not f’n around) the tune has an infectiously melodic horn section and quickly settles into a groove that’s both sexy and sweet. El DeBarge’s vocals on the chorus are perfectly high pitched and brother Randy’s verses have an effortless flow that sit over the thick rhythm section like whipped cream on dark chocolate mousse. The only thing better than the sound is the simplicity. The lyrics of “I Like It” are basically just a laundry list of all the rad things about this babe that El digs. I like the way you comb your hair, And I like those stylish clothes you wear, It’s just those little things you do that show how much you really care. That’s so bad ass! What’s better than pointing out the most obvious and ordinary parts about a chick that make her so incredible? In addition to this fantastically on the nose chorus are the backing vocals by Bunny, Mark, and James; a repeating harmony that provides a foundation for El to really show off his falsetto chops. I like it, I like it, I really, really like it. I’m for it, Adore it, So come let me enjoy it. There is little room for confusion. I’m pretty sure he likes this chick. “I Like It” is one of those versatile smooth jams, the kind you can dance to with your lady while y’all are making dinner or the kind you put on when y’all are making out. Or both. Simultaneously. Just don’t forget to turn the burner off before you head to the bedroom. Rookie mistake.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
A couple weeks ago I did a tribute hour on Marfa Public Radio in honor of the late, great Lou Reed. Below is the track listing. Click the link to listen! The Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat Roses - I See It All Jonathan Richman - Velvet Underground Lou Reed - Andy's Chest Lou Reed - She's My Best Friend Lou Reed - Legendary Hearts Suicide - Keep Your Dreams Lou Reed - Coney Island Baby Lou Reed - Street Hassle Lou Reed - New York Telephone Conversation
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Last Sunday night I was one of the lucky sons of bitches who got to see The Replacements tear through a career spanning 80 minute set in Humboldt Park in Chicago. It was by far the most fun rock n roll show I’ve ever gone to, Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson grinning almost as wide as the 20,000 ecstatic fans that had waited 22 years to see them again. They were stone cold sober but that didn’t make the show any less spontaneous, sloppy, and thrilling. It was still a high wire act, teetering on the brink disaster or brilliance at any point. Forgotten lyrics, snippets of Chuck Berry covers, and Paul leaning over to change the distortion on replacement Replacements guitarist Dave Minehan’s petal. “Get rid of that Cure shit…” he grumbled mid-song. It was everything you could possibly want out of a Replacements show. Except for one thing. As I was going through the list of songs that the band hadn’t been dusted off on that stage (cuts from records like Tim, Don’t Tell A Soul, and Hootenanny) the complete absence of another whole era of songs hit me. I realized that the first thing I was going to listen to when I got home was not a ‘Mats song at all but Westerberg’s fantastic contributions to the soundtrack of Cameron Crowe’s Singles. I found myself at the end of the night realizing that while I’ve always been a huge fan of the band, I was now even more enamored with Paul Westerberg’s solo career than ever before. My first introduction to the world of The Replacements had been a solo Paul track, a cover at that. It was the amped up version of Jonathan Edward’s 1971 pop-folk hit “Sunshine” featured on the FRIENDS soundtrack (basically the watered down sitcom version of Singles). I was in middle school and I would steal my sister’s CD and play that track over and over again, I loved the twangy, jangly punk rhythm and the ragged voice that somehow still sounded smooth. It was bad ass and bubble gum all at once. By the time I heard Pleased To Meet Me’s “Can’t Hardly Wait” (one of the top 5 greatest pop songs of all time), I was hooked. I was destined to spend the rest of my life loving a band that no longer was. But I still had Paul. I got a copy of his first solo record, 14 Songs, for $3.00 at my local record store. It had the raucous foot tapper “Knocking On Mine” and a cover that looked like a Norman Mailer novel. I tossed aside my soundtrack of Reality Bites in exchange for Singles, where Paul was alongside Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Smashing Pumpkins. A little later came Eventually and Suicane Gratification, the later record included members of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers fresh off work at Johnny Cash’s American recordings. In addition to all-star backers, Paul had the blessing of the president of Capitol Records. Despite all this and top-notch songwriting, none of his solo efforts were commercially successful. Suicane included some of Westerberg's best lyrics, like the incredibly gorgeous "It's a Wonderful Lie", in which Paul sings... How am I looking? I don't want the truth. Who am I kidding? I ain't in my youth. I'm past my prime or was that just a pose? Perhaps recognizing that he'd made an image, indeed a career, off of being the slacker has been or perhaps, never was. Is it easier to fail if you convince yourself you never really tried? Don't pin your hopes or pin your dreams to misanthropes or guys like me Cause the truth is overrated, I suppose. It's a wonderful lie. I still get by on those. Like a gutter punk Frank Capra, who realized his era of cynical rock n roll idealism had long since passed, Westerberg retreated from the public eye to find a new method for his madness. He even assumed a new moniker, “Grandpaboy”. Though sidelined with an injury to his fret hand in 2006, Paul began releasing a string of basement recordings. Some were physically released, Stereo/Mono being the closest sound to the Mats he’d ever put out. Others were released online with bizarre cover art and even stranger pricing, these records became my favorite of them all. 49:00… Of Your
Time Life, released in 2008 on Paul’s 49th birthday and costing a mere 49 cents, is damn near a masterpiece. It’s actually only 43 minutes and 55 seconds long (an accompanying EP title 5:05 made up the difference) but instead of cutting up the rock into digestible segments, Westerberg just gives it to you in one stiff shot. A little distortion and creative crossfading creates the illusion that you’re rolling the dial on your radio and every station is playing Paul. What you would imagine might be an exercise in patience is actually over too soon. The maybe/kindof/whocantell dozen tracks zip right on by. Jailhouse ballads, stop the wedding laments, and another ode to New York Doll’s guitarist Johnny Thunder, a few decades after “Johnnys Gonna Die”. It all ends with an amazing medley of pop covers that sees Paul channeling Alice Cooper, Paul McCartney, Art Garfunkle, Elton John, and climactically… David Cassidy. Only Westerberg could make the Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You” cool again.
49:00 has been followed up by a few other basement tapes. 3oclockreep included lost recordings of The Replacements with Tom Waits, drunkenly singing beloved b-sides. PW & the Ghost Gloves Cat Wing Joy Boys was a six track EP that found Paul getting tender again with a handful of piano ballads. Every now and then he’ll toss out a few singles in between, maybe a vinyl only 7’. It’s an unpredictable mess that seems to have no rhyme or reason, just like the tunes themselves.
Westerberg, despite his lackluster solo success, is fearless. Either that or completely insecure. He’ll have incredible highs of pop poetics and follow it up with an eye rolling punch line. Is he undercutting himself out of fear of being taken too seriously? Or does he simply not give a fuck about putting saccharine sentiment and vitriolic vinegar side by side? Whichever it is, he’s a genius, and an accessible one at that.
Friday, August 9, 2013
The Lannan Writing Residency is a three to eight week fellowship where poets, authors, journalists, and translators are invited to live and work in Marfa, Texas and present their work at the Marfa Book Company. Over the last couple months I've had the immense privilege of interviewing the Lannan fellows for our local NPR affiliate. In addition to reading their exceptional books, its a joy to be able to talk a little shop with writers who are reaching their prime after years of hard work. James Arthur - Interview July 26th, 2013 A conversation with poet James Arthur about his debut book of poetry,Charms Against Lightning, released by Copper Canyon Press. In this interview we discuss his changing understanding of love and fatherhood as it pertains to his poetry. Laird Hunt- Interview August 9th, 2013 A conversation with novelist Laird Hunt about his eclectic writing style over the course of six novels, including his most recent book, Kind One, nominated for the PEN / Faulkner Award. I hope you enjoyed the interviews and if you're interested in purchasing any of the work discussed,follow the links below. These are some incredibly gifted writers producing exceptional work. Don't hesitate, just check it out! James Arthur - Charms Against Lightning Laird Hunt - Kind One
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Cradle, 2013 “When I was 8 I created my own world,” the painter chuckles and flicks ash off her cigarette, “this language that was based on pictorial symbols, laws and constitutions. I would mess up the paper to make it all seem old. It took so long but it was the first time I actually felt like I was creating something. A new reality through art making.“ Christie DeNizio’s exhibition, In Between: Parts Remembered , premieres this Thursday at the Past Life Billionaires Studio in Marfa, Texas. The young artist took some time to sit down with The Thunderbird Blog for an interview about her work. DeNizio, the 24 year old Jersey born painter, lacks even a hint of pretension. When asking her about her artistic process, early influences, and journey as a painter, the answers are thoroughly considered and normally delivered with a scrunch nosed chuckle to punctuate a point. Ms. DeNizio does not strike one as the artistic indoor type; tall and lean, perpetually clad in running shoes, fueled by a steady diet of soda, menthol cigarettes, and Twizzlers. Only the sporadic paint stains on her hair and clothes betray her true ambitions. An exceptional athlete, DeNizio played soccer and lacrosse in high school, as well as leading her basketball team to the county championships in 2006 and 2007. “I was interested in art but my catholic high school didn’t have any classes. I sort of tinkered with it independently.” DeNizio’s athletic talent was rewarded with a scholarship to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. While she participated in the sports program her first semester, her heart just wasn’t in it. She knew she wanted more. “I knew when, and a lot of artists talk about it but, that one moment…” she pauses to gather her thoughts, “I remember taking my first painting class and you have all these ideas and all these artists that you study and so much theory and suddenly all of that leaves you and it’s just you and that thing you’re trying to make happen. You lose all sense of time. You escape self-consciousness and it’s just beauty and presence.” Escaping constraints of time, place, and reality is an ongoing theme throughout DeNizio’s work. Her thesis exhibition at Swarthmore focused on large scale works portraying the destruction and decomposition of cakes. “I was having these re-occurring dreams with cakes” she explains, “Cakes in the background… everywhere. So I went to the grocery store and bought all of them I could find.” The still lives are massive; smashed and rotting cakes on every surface like the remnants of some far gone celebration. “These things were so full of preservatives though they just became rocks.” The show was a success, Swarthmore College purchasing two of the largest pieces for permanent display on campus. Ironically, a year later, the money DeNizio would spend on canvas and paint supplies came from a part- time job at a bakery. “I never even wanted to look at cakes again.” The next phase of DeNizio’s paintings, a sort of deconstruction of landscapes, would begin to manifest after a short stint in Italy. “I was painting a landscape in Umbria,” she recalls, “I had trucked all my stuff out in the middle of nowhere. Painting from observation, learning how to see, all that technical stuff. Then I suddenly felt very connected… to life and place and tried to translate that into the painting.” Fence, 2013 DeNizio lights another cigarette and tries to explain, “I began so worried about the technicalities but soon it just went away. I became less conscious of it all and it became a way to make meaning of the world.” The artist laughs, suddenly quite self-conscious about her answer, “Not in the grand ‘meaning of life’ way. I guess just how one decides to respond to the world.” DeNizio’s “landscapes” are anything but. “I’m more interested in the abstraction of the landscape than the content of the space.” she explains. When looking at Ms. DeNizio’s paintings, recognizable physical forms may initially capture one’s attention (a rock or perhaps a cacti) but it quickly melts away into a flurry of forms and colors that leave the viewer on unstable ground. What was once familiar is now strange and alien. Shelter, 2013 “Painting a landscape is so complex. It’s unimaginably beautiful and chaotic” DeNizio sips from her liter of Diet Coke and grasps at the proper words for her visions, “I take a moment of a place or a shape and bring it into the studio and hopefully make something new out of disparate parts. A sort of fleeting coherence.” The landscapes of West Texas have been particularly fruitful for this process. Since arriving a little over 6 months ago, DeNizio has produced close to 40 paintings. “I grew up in the Northeast so I’ve never encountered this kind of space and light. The lack of external stimuli, like billboards. It’s brought a lot of clarity but also allowed me the space to find a slew of new problems” DeNizio begins to laugh heartily, “That will probably keep me going till I don’t know… I’m 80 or I’m dead.” Revolve, 2013 While she has only been painting for four years, DeNizio has developed a discipline that is conducive to a prolific output. Her apartment/studio is wholly devoted to her artistic endeavors. Only the small bed and pile of laundry in the corner reveal the presence of the outside world. “I didn’t start painting until I was 20 so I feel like I’m catching up. I’ve probably produced a couple hundred paintings. Destroyed another hundred. Once I started I just…” DeNizio’s eyes glaze a bit and she shakes her head. Her influences are vast, small Xeroxed reproductions and postcards of her favorite artists cling to her wall by little bits of blue masking tape. “It goes in phases; really into this style or that painter. The late still life paintings of Georges Braque. Sometimes it’s not even in line with my style it just speaks to me. I’m always thinking about Piero della Francesca and he’s nowhere in my work.” When asked where her style may lead next, what is on the horizon for this young artist, DeNizio shrugs off speculation. “Do I have to answer that? I don’t know. Painting is impossible so I figure, why not do it forever?”
Saturday, July 20, 2013
1994 was a monumental year for American music. It saw a sea change in rock and hip hop with the release of such albums as Green Day’s Dookie, Weezer’s “Blue Album”, Beastie Boys’ Ill Communication, and Warren G’s Regulate…G-Funk Era. It was also the year that Kurt Cobain shot himself, Left Eye burned her boyfriend’s house down, and The Beatles and Led Zeppelin saw at least partial reunions. In the midst of this musical tempest, an unlikely pop artist would decide to branch out, making one of the most dramatic stylistic shifts one could imagine and releasing a record that was a near perfect synthesis of the grunge, rap, punk, and funk that was surrounding him. That album was SHE. The artist was Harry Connick, Jr. If you’re still reading this then we must be really good friends. Most people that I try and talk to about this album walk away from me before I can get the “Junior” out. I know what you’re all thinking… “That Frank Sinatra wannabe who married a supermodel?” Yup. That guy. “The mother f’r who had all those ABC Christmas Specials?” Yeah. That mother f’r. “The guy who murdered that chick in the bathroom stall in Copycat?” Yes. But he also kissed on Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats, so cut him so slack, ok? By 1994, Connick was 27 years old and had been releasing records for the better part of his life. His first two records, produced in the late 70’s when he was just a boy, were Dixieland throwbacks. Him and a group of veteran New Orleans musicians releasing standards, banking on the fact that folks would be impressed by the fact that the piano impresario at center stage was only 10 years old. This may sound like a gimmick but I encourage you to look up Stevie Wonder’s first few records and see how he was marketed at age 12 before becoming the genius that we love today. Once Connick hit puberty, he only slightly modified his musical style, now he played Sinatra era big band hits; crooning out numbers that seemed formulaic but nonetheless interesting in the anthro-musicology sense. He won over a large audience with the release of 1989’s soundtrack to When Harry Met Sally…, Connick introducing a whole new generation to standards originally made famous by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong. His musical chops were not in question, but how original, how lyrical, how stylistically talented was this guy if all he was doing was rehashing the past? Fast forward five years... by this time Harry Connick, Jr. has begun a successful film career that will prove to be as cofounding and risky as his recording career. He has married a Victoria Secret supermodel (further infuriating a section of America who hates his good ole boy image) and now he will embark upon a 3 year musical foray that will alienate even his most ardent fans. SHE was released in July of 1994. It’s a little over an hour of some very strange, very smooth New Orleans funk music, interspersed amongst it’s eleven tracks (each an average of five minutes in length) are brief, grungy experimental spoken word narratives that are borderline industrial- hip hop music. Connick was backed in this effort by an all- star group of New Orleans funk legends, including most of The Meters. His touring guitarist, Jonathan Dubose, sets fire to several tracks with explosive solos on “Between Us”, “Safety’s Just Danger…”, and an ode to Connick’s mentor James Booker entitled, simply, “Booker”. Connick’s piano playing is never better, the most prominent feature of songs like “Trouble” and “To Love The Language”. The album’s centerpiece is a slow, sultry seven minute jam called “Joe Slam and The Spaceship”, drenched in organ and heavy bass. The songs range from second-line ready parade jams to dark, brooding, and distorted funk ballads. Some sexy love jams are included but the eclectic eccentricity of the album cannot be overstated. Anyone who loves The Neville Brothers, The Meters, and Professor Longhair will probably eat this album up. But in 1994, Connick’s fans were wealthy retired white folks who wanted to hear Sinatra redux and when he came to town with 12 burly, black funk musicians and pumped up the volume, they didn’t react kindly. Connick’s SHE tour was notorious for walk outs, many of his audience simply disturbed by the lack of swinging dance numbers. In a 1996 interview with AP, Connick addressed the controversy, “I don't like to upset anybody. I did my best to inform everybody that I was going to be changing musical styles, but not everybody got the message and some people were misled” Connick was earnest as ever but also stuck to his musical guns, at least for the moment. “It wasn't World War III. It was just a change in musical styles." Set side by side with the other hits of the day, the album seems an odd anomaly; perhaps Connick’s desperate effort to ingratiate himself upon an audience more apt to wait in line for the newest Alice in Chains or Dr. Dre album. But now, almost 20 years later, the album can be seen as a talented and multifaceted artist trying to embrace a beloved musical form and realizing that his audience won’t always (to borrow one of the album’s song titles) “Follow the Music Further”. Connick would release one more experimental funk album in 1996, Star Turtle, before succumbing to studio pressure to return to form and churn out big band hits. Harry Connick Jr.’s career, on screen and in the studio, is a fascinating one; an old fashioned kind of performer living in a modern age where catering to niche markets will fare better than playing a broad range of styles. He’s a guy who can star in films as an alien hunting playboy, a charming romantic lead, or a brutal serial murderer and not bat an eyelash. He can release retro-jazz albums that play well to the masses or unleash complicated heavy funk to folks who could care less. He has a reputation as a perpetual boy next door… a Wonder Bread brother trying to mix it up with real NOLA boys… but he is beloved in his hometown and he was taught by James Booker and Ellis Marsalis. He’s got the cred and he’s got the chops. It’s just that pesky audience acceptance that eluded him.
Friday, July 19, 2013
We live in perhaps the bleakest era of American filmmaking; the bloated summer blockbuster season now nearly 5 long months of YA adaptations and third phase re-boots of franchises not even a decade old, costing an average of 150 million dollars a pop, while independent films are now a quirky crowd sourced caricature of themselves. There is virtually no trace of the subversive, biting cinema introduced in the 1970’s that simultaneously criticized and galvanized American culture. Living through this dark age of American film, it’s sometimes hard to believe that just 15 years ago, it was a different story all together. In the late 90’s you could still convince a studio like Warner Brothers to take a chance on an indie-filmmaker who wanted to direct an art film action adventure about the aftermath of the first Gulf War, starring two hip hoppers, one first time actor, and a TV soap opera doctor. But that’s exactly what David O. Russell did and the result is one of the finest films about contemporary warfare ever made. Three Kings, released in 1999, met with rave critical reviews but a somewhat tepid box-office reception. It was completely ignored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences who were enamored with a more domestic (and now quite dated) portrayal of millennial America, Sam Mendes’ American Beauty. Three Kings takes place in the immediate aftermath of the first Gulf War. The ceasefire has been signed and American forces are being pulled out. Spirits are high and soldiers are partying even though Saddam Hussien is still in power (will remain so for another decade) and will soon begin a violent suppression of the resistance exposed during the short, violent, but media sanitized war. By setting the film in the precarious aftermath, with a ceasefire and backroom politics limiting the capabilities of our characters, Russell is able to expose the shallowness of nationalism and the whitewashing of the war by American media. “Because the war itself, to me, wasn’t very interesting,” Russell explained. “The war was six weeks of bombing. What was interesting to me was the moment everybody stopped paying attention.” The plot revolves around a rag tag group of enlisted men; new father and boy next door Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg), high school dropout and impressionable bone head Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze), and their NCO, a devout Christian and Detroit refugee Chief Elgin (Ice Cube). While trying to reach their post-war quota of Iraqi prisoners of war, they discover a map of Hussein’s stolen Kuwaiti gold in the ass of a captured Iraqi infantryman. Enter George Clooney as disillusioned ex-Special Forces turned media liaison officer, Archie Gates, two weeks from retirement and sick of playing the weapons of mass- distraction game with the ratings rabid American journalists he’s been assigned to protect. When rumors of the “Iraqi Ass Map” spread around camp, Clooney takes control and makes a plan to steal it, making himself and the enlisted men rich. The plan quickly goes awry when the misfit group, trying to find the gold, instead stumbles upon a group of Iraqi citizens held captive in a torture chamber of Hussein’s Imperial Guard. Faced with the victims of the unrealized revolution that American forces are now abandoning, the enlisted men and officer Gates now have to choose between their pockets and their conscience. Are they thieves or are they freedom fighters? I won’t ruin the rest of the movie for you entirely but let’s just say the ceasefire gets broken. Three Kings is so many things at once… a fast paced comedy, a satirical look at media manipulation in modern warfare, a brutal action film, and a heartfelt glimpse at the often invisible victims of our Mid- East wars. David O. Russell based the films plot off of a one line synopsis of unproduced scripts provided to him by Warner Brothers. John Riley’s Spoils of War provided the initial inspiration but Russell never even read the script. He preferred to create his story based off of the full color newspaper images in the New York Times. The bleached out coloring of the desert coverage inspired the unique cinematography that sets Three Kings apart from almost every other film of the time period. Another distinctive characteristic of the film is the rather slow and calculated pacing of the action sequences. Gun battles are often portrayed in slow motion, their destructiveness illustrated with intensely graphic shots of the bullet entering internal organs. In an interview with Salon.com in 2000, Russell spoke about his stylistic choice, “…one of the ideas was to resensitize us to violence. A bullet is a very big deal in anybody’s life, so I wanted to slow it down to make you feel that each bullet counted in that way.” They certainly do count. There is no gratuitousness to the violence. It is deliberate, sobering, and terrifying. There is also a constant reminder of American pop culture and rampant consumerism on each side of the war. American forces are shown partying in their pop tents with boom boxes and CD players, watching CNN coverage of the war they are fighting on battery operated televisions. Iraqi forces are shown watching bootlegged VHS copies of the Rodney King beating, hoarding Cuisineart blenders, and listening to Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time” in their bunkers. The saturation and appropriation of American pop culture is certainly humorous but can also take a darkly disturbing turn. In one scene, Wahlberg’s Troy Barlow is captured and tortured by the Iraqi Imperial Guard. His interrogation begins with his captor delivering a monologue about America’s betrayal of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and ends with Barlow being forced to drink crude oil. All these interrogation techniques were taught to them, he explains, by American forces during the Iran/Iraq War. The film is layered, suspenseful, and hilarious. The excellent script and characterization manages to deliver hard lined critique of American foreign policy without being skewed by a particular political agenda. It’s portrayal of American military personel is the most diverse and un-romanticized since Hal Ashby’s Coming Home and like that film, manages to humanize and sympathize with characters who would otherwise be footnotes to a grander more glorified war film. Ice Cube’s Sgt. Elgin is a multidimensional character, a Christian man who looks at the military as his way of escaping poverty and violence in Detroit. Spike Jonez’ Conrad Vig is a redneck who spouts racist epithets and adores violence, but only because he is undereducated. The economic necessity of their enlistment should bind them closer together but the racially reductive politics of America has driven them apart. Not until they’re faced with a tragedy larger than themselves are they brothers in arms. Three Kings is a film that would never be made in today’s cinematic climate. It would be too controversial for a large studio and too ambitious and humorous for an independent production. It was made in that magnificent pre-9/11 period when criticism of our country was looked at as patriotic. When a film with political substance wasn’t exclusively looked at as having a conservative or liberal bias. When it was understood that art and entertainment was pointless if constricted by ideology. When the best plot point was instead, humanity.