Showing posts from January, 2006

The Strokes re-invent their wheel, sort of

Halfway through the first listen of the first track, you'll be hooked. I was. The stuttering rhythm guitar and walloping drums that start the song don't promise anything particularly earthshaking, but then come the opening guitar chords, clean and direct, with just the right amount of swagger. In about twelve seconds, singer Julian Casablancas starts crooning and declaiming in an arch yet affecting style, punctuating the verses with 'oh, oh's' like a goofily-happy Lou Reed. Then the guitar gets loud and boisterous, and the joyous infectiousness of the song has utterly seeped in. It's three minutes and nine seconds of pop perfection. The song is "You Only Live Once," the opening track on First Impressions of Earth , the third CD by New York post-punk darlings, The Strokes. The tune's marriage of indie-rock idiosyncracy and arena-ready boldness couldn't be more perfect, and the instant the track finishes, you'll want to listen to it again.


Rats rule. And don't let anyone on earth or in heaven tell you otherwise. Separately and together, Rita and I have had pet rats for eighteen years, and they're all-around great pets. When it comes to small animals, parents of smart kids would do well to adopt a pet rat. Too many parents try to fob off a gerbil or hamster onto a child, not comprehending the extremely aggressive and stupid temperament of both. Rats, on the other hand, display smarts, resourcefulness, affection, and sweet-naturedness that put most people to shame. Much of the time, when you see a mouse doing intelligent, resourceful things in a fiction film, you're actually watching a baby rat do it. They're sharp as tacks, those little guys. I speak from a great many years of experience. Western culture has always feared and maligned the rat, mainly because of the rodent PR nightmare that was the Bubonic Plague. But the Chinese viewed these misunderstood creatures with high regard (the rat occupies the