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Issue of 2/24/2010

Cover Story:

Bitchin' kitchen
by Travis R. Wright
A punk rock culinary show as a Never Never Land, where adolescence, beer, jalapenos and DIY rule


Cable tangles by Sandra Svoboda
Public access wins — for now

Luder than hell by Brett Callwood
Is this the prettiest stoner rock band in history?

Revival meetings by Charles L. Latimer
Drummer RJ Spangler convenes the musical generations

Single-Payer-Minded by Erin Sullivan
Health-care practitioners explain why they're willing to go to jail in the name of health-care reform


Cheat Code by Bryant Franks (Cheat Code)
Monkeywrenching the Nazis and choosing sides in Avatar

Comics (Comics)

Couch Trip by Metro Times film writers (Couch Trip)
An Ethan Hawke gem you missed, a Chantal Akerman '70s round-up, plus Homer in hi-def and Bowie's kid on low budget

Food Stuff by Metro Times food staff (Food Stuff)
News we're all hungry for

Desperation programming by Jim McFarlin (Idiot Boxing)
After the Olympics, NBC prospects are far from golden

Letters to the Editor by Metro Times readers (Letters to the Editor)
Our readers sound off

Metro Retro by Metro Times staff (Metro Retro)
Looking back over 30 years of MT

Motor City Cribs by Doug Coombe (Motor City Cribs and Rides)
Putting Detroit's musical wealth in elegant Palmer Woods settings

Fish fry by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Worst-case scenarios for carp in the Great Lakes

Speaking of the environment … by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Here's how our local pols stack up

Night and Day by Megan O'Neil (Night and Day)

Tiger Woods, meet Mao by Jack Lessenberry (Politics and Prejudices)
Why are we demanding confessions from celebrities and not politicians?

Bottoms up! by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
The straight poop on anal intercourse

Currying favor by Metro Times food staff (Short Order)
Our guide to Indian and Indian-influenced fare

Bombs, burns and coloring books by Travis R. Wright (Sketches in Grit)
Decoding graffiti with Kobie Solomon, a man keeping the sprayed word alive

Hey, Soul Sista by Larry Gabriel (Stir It Up)
A lyrical look at what Sam Riddle might sing

What a town! by Walter Wasacz (The Subterraneans)
Artists like Anthony 'Shake' Shakir maintain D-town's dominance of the dance music world this city invented



Blues and Chaos - Robert Palmer Reviewed by W. Kim Heron (Book)


Blood Done Sign My Name Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Set in an early ’70s North Carolina town so bucolic you can almost taste the peach cobbler, the film, based on Timothy Tyson’s memoir, very patiently unfurls a yarn about the true-life murder of a young black Vietnam vet, a senseless act of violence that sets long, simmering tensions to full boil. White liberal Methodist pastor Vernon Tyson (Rick Schroder) and young African-American schoolteacher Ben Chavis (Nate Parker) share star billing, with Parker playing a future NAACP leader whose political awakening is just beginning. Their sleepy town is still living under de facto Jim Crow, where blacks can’t find jobs downtown, or even get the city council to reinstall the basketball hoops in the public parks. The community’s frustration becomes outrage when Ben’s cousin is beaten and shot by a bigoted shopkeeper and his sons, allegedly for insulting a white woman, and the trial becomes a circus. Chavis responds by organizing a march on the state capital, but others demand stronger action.

The White Ribbon Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Austrian director Michael Haneke's film is shot in austere, soft-focus black-and-white that recalls the work of Carl Dreyer and invokes its eve of World War I period setting. Haneke trains his chilly gaze on Eichwald, a small, still-feudal village in northern Germany. The village doctor is badly injured after his horse is tripped up by a wire strung between poles, a cold-hearted pastor lashes his son’s arms to the bed to keep him from masturbating, a poor woman falls through rotten floorboards to her death, the local baron’s son is strung up and beaten, and on and on. Unexplained accidents, petty acts of revenge, secret sins and mysterious crimes breed a culture of low-level paranoia. And as you might expect, the children are affected in unexpected ways, roaming through their community like the possessed tots in Village of the Damned (a comparison I’m sure others will make). Cruelty begets cruelty, the director suggests, and malice is a virus that becomes amplified with each generation.

White Lightnin' Reviewed by Greg Baise (Movie)
The shot-on-video documentary short "Dancing Outlaw" allowed Jesco White, of Boone County, W.Va., to tell his “real people” story of juvenile delinquency, gas huffing and redemption. White’s triumph over adversity came through channeling his energy into the Appalachian folk form of mountain dancing, an art he learned from his father. Now comes the movie “Inspired by the life of Jesco White.” But first-time director Dominic Murphy and first-time screenwriters Eddy Moretti and Shane Smith take White’s story to a much darker place. This disturbing film, filled with mood swings and violent, explicit revenge fantasies, shows a Jesco White that walks the line between the mountain-dancing straight and narrow, and the evils of substance abuse and vengeance obsessions. As the substance-inhaling demons within him simmer, and White fantasizes about extracting revenge on his neighbors who murdered his father, the film’s creators throw in a little Requiem for a Dream, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, maybe even Passion of the Christ — there’s a twisted, distorted theology at work in this film that culminates in White’s grotesque auto-crucifixion.

Shameless Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
TV weatherman Oskar (Jirí Machácek), who one morning wakes up and notices that his wife Zuzana (Simona Babcáková) has a helluva big schnoz. And so he leaves her, in search of … well, it’s not quite clear what Oskar’s looking for. His mid-life leap of faith mostly ends up eroding what little life he had. After losing his cushy job, he takes one transporting people too drunk to drive home. For most people, the fall would be too much, but Oskar seems oddly content. Less successful is his affair with the hot teenage babysitter (Eva Kerekésová) who broke up his marriage, and who seems to have more affection for her pet turtle than him (until he accidentally kills it). This sends him into the arms of Nora (Emilia Vasaryova), a popular but aging chanteuse who only ends up dumping him too. And still Oskar soldiers on, never showing an ounce of regret for his choices. Meanwhile, his parents act as his ex-wife’s wingmen, helping her to get it on with the blue-collar divorcee who’s been courting her. As Zuzana’s love blossoms, Oskar’s soulless promiscuity leads only to numb loneliness. By the end of the film, he’s in a bathtub with a former student-turned-professional escort, being interviewed on the radio by his ex (she’s a radio host) about his failed romance with Nora. No matter how far down the spiral goes, Oskar is unfazed.

Strongman Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
If showbiz is tough at the top, it’s sheer agony at the bottom, a shadow realm explored in this doc, a probing, often maddening slice of gritty vérité. The subject is a tormented dime-store Hercules named Stanley Pleskun, who performs uncanny feats of strength under the stage name “Stanless Steel.” Though he can lift three people with one finger, bend pennies and leg-press trucks, Stan’s a piece of human wreckage, a shambling hulk of middle-aged muscle, every bit as twisted and mangled as the steel bars he deforms with his mighty paws. Stan ekes out a living hauling scrap, between demeaning gigs doing stunts at gymnasiums, school parking lots and kids’ birthday parties. Fame eludes him, though he lands the occasional plum job, like a spot on a British TV show, his alleged “act,” or lack of one, leaves him one step beyond carnival sideshow. His strength is legit, and his displays of power are impressive, but he’s got no sizzle to go with that steak, and no earthly clue how to market himself. He employs his beleaguered wife Barbara as a barker, but her cigarette-ruined wheeze is a long way off from Michael Buffer.

Shutter Island Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Haunted by the death of his wife (Michelle Williams), U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes a case on isolated Shutter Island, home to the Ashecliffe hospital for the criminally insane. Teamed with his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), he’s in pursuit of an escaped psychopath (Emily Mortimer), but clues suggest the asylum’s top docs (Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow) may be hiding dark secrets. Suddenly, Teddy begins to suffer from debilitating migraines and disturbing hallucinations. The visions are connected to the atrocities he witnessed during World War II (the film takes place in 1954), when his platoon liberated the Nazi work camp Dachau. Images of slain children and conversations with his dead wife induce fevered paranoia. Worse, a hurricane strikes, sealing off the island from the outside world. Soon, Teddy is uncovering an elaborate conspiracy that involves HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee), ex-Nazis, psychotropic drugs and sinister psychological experiments. From start to finish, Shutter Island is a Hollywood product, boasting impeccable craft, scenery-chewing performances, cheap thrills and a sly understated wit. The tone is set in its first moments; the melodramatic score swells and blares with mystery and import. Slowly — almost too slowly — Scorsese immerses you in the island’s period trappings and creepy locales, creating a claustrophobic labyrinth for the looming mind games. There are long Hitchcockian tracking shots, detectives in fedoras, a King Lear-sized storm and ghostly inmates with mysterious wounds. For those paying attention, the sinister supporting cast is filled with a rogue’s gallery of unnerving actors. John Carroll Lynch (Zodiac), Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs), Emily Mortimer, Elias Koteas, Patricia Clarkson and, especially, Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, Little Children) revel in their unstable characters.


Los Altos Reviewed by Jane Slaughter (Restaurant)
Catering mostly to owner Adan Lopez’s fellow immigrants from Jalisco, which gave birth to tacos al pastor, Los Altos’ tacos al pastor are out of this world: filled to the brim with succulent, mellow chunks of pork leg marinated in an adobo mixture. A taco costs $1; $1.50 if you’re silly enough to ask for a flour tortilla. The English menu is careful to advise that chopped onion and cilantro are the traditional toppings on a taco. If you insist on adding cheese, you may, but it’ll cost you 50 cents. The restaurant's traditional dishes show off the cooks’ ability to use every last portion of an animal: Besides rib-eye (bistec tampiqueño), chorizo or pork loin (lomo), you can try cabeza (head), buche (pork maw), lengua (tongue) or tripas (beef tripe). A plato grande of four meats with salad, beans and rice is said to feed six, for $18. The small $4 birria soup, made with marinated goat, is a rich, tender meal in itself. Los Altos’ menu is long, including seafood dishes such as shrimp, tilapia, oysters and ceviche; tortas made with 13 kinds of meat or avocado; the usual chiles rellenos, burritos, enchiladas, flautas, quesadillas and even chimichangas. For dessert there’s flan, sopapillas or tres leches cake. Cash only, no bar.