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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Saturday, September 10, 2005

At Least Some Of The Best Things In Life Are Free

On Thursday, as part of the NFL's Opening Kickoff, they had a concert in L.A. featuring Maroon 5, Kanye West, Good Charlotte, and Rihanna. For free. So even though everyone I knew had school, or work, or just didn't like the bands, I figured, screw it, it's free, I'll go myself.

Damn, was it worth it.

I reserved a ticket online ahead of time, so I could get into the part of the audience that you see on TV with the wristbands right up in front of the stage. That also got me free parking and a bottle of water when I got there, which was a nice perk. They even threw NFL jerseys into the crowd (albeit random ones such as Charles Rogers, Ahman Green, and Brandon Stokley, for example). But really, had this been a typical concert, I would have easily been able to sell my ticket for over $100 on eBay. I was close enough to hock a loogie on Kanye if I'd so desired. Hey, I was even on national TV.

Now, at pretty much every rap show I've ever been to, the star gets up there on stage and maybe drops a verse or two from each of his big hits. And throughout, members of his posse will interject a line so the rapper can take a breather. Really, it's hard work spitting lyrics for four minutes straight without a break. I get it.

If that's your impression of rap shows, please do yourself a favor and go see Kanye West live. He got up there with no posse - only a DJ and a seven-piece string section made up of strangely made-up Asian women in black evening gowns. And Kanye dropped six songs in full, even doing the choruses himself (well, not for songs like "Jesus Walks" or "All Falls Down," since those were on the track). Through it all, he was running around frantically on stage, full of energy. He even rapped while clapping in double time during "The New Workout Plan." His only vocal companion on stage was Adam Levine, who guested on "Heard 'Em Say."

He was also very savvy - coming off his performance at the hurricane benefit where he went off-script and ripped Bush, he told the crowd that he wasn't supposed to say anything, according to his contract, and he sarcastically covered his mouth with a towel. Then, instead of dropping forbidden words in his songs, he would point the mic at the crowd and let the fans sing them for him.

The funniest thing I saw at the concert was in the line of people waiting to enter beforehand, when a white guy wearing a "God Bless America" trucker hat rolled up in a homemade t-shirt reading, "'George Bush does not care about BLACK PEOPLE.' -Kanye West." Come on, was this guy for real? Never mind the fact that ABC would probably rather have me on stage rapping than put this guy's "statement" on air. Do people like this even have rational internal thought processes?

Anti-Bush comments or not, Kanye was undoubtedly the star of the show, although I don't want to take anything away from Maroon 5 and Good Charlotte, who both put on good sets as well. And speaking of Maroon 5, I am of the opinion that lead singer Adam Levine has done wonders for the sex appeal of skinny, average-looking guys. Apparently, all you need is some self-confidence and a multiplatinum voice, and you, too, can have hordes of high school seniors shrieking for you to take off your pants.

Anyway, fresh off the heels of such an enjoyable free show, I think on Tuesday, I'll head over to the Tower Records in Sherman Oaks to see Blues Traveler play a free show to mark the release of their new record, Bastardos! (I don't know how to get the upside-down exclamation point that belongs in the title on Blogger.) If you don't want to go, well, piss off, it'll be fun without you.

***

There's a commercial airing in L.A. right now that I think is one of the best commercials I've ever seen in terms of social commentary. The setting is in a kindergarten classroom, and it begins with a teacher holding a picture of a cow and saying, "Can anyone tell me what comes from a cow?"

The kids start raising their hands. The teacher calls on one. They then begin peppering the perplexed and flustered teacher with responses:

"Lattes?"

"Nuh-uh. My mom says nonfat half-caf cappuccinos."

"Nuh-uh. Grande no-foam extra hot mochaccinos."

"Iced caramel macchiatos?"

Then, as the teacher looks at her class totally stunned, the voiceover comes in with the kicker: "If there's any place that could really use a county fair, it's L.A."

The commercial goes on:

"Can anyone tell me what comes from a sheep?"

One girl responds, "Sweaters?" And as the teacher begins to nod approvingly as though she's on the right track, the girl clarifies.

"Gucci sweaters?"

By the way, I have no idea what actually goes on at a county fair, especially the L.A. County Fair. But it's going on until October 2, so maybe one day I'll check it out.

***

I don't know if it's like this on the radio version, but on the album, Ludacris's latest single, "Pimpin' All Over The World," has some guy talking at the end of the track about how to weed out guys who claim they're pimpin', but clearly are not. For example, one of the ways is if a guy smells like he's been "at work all day ... and Drakkar," he's not pimpin'.

There's one line where the guy says, "If your spinning rims spin counterclockwise, you are not pimpin'." Anyone see the problem with this?

The rims on the passenger side of the car spin in the opposite direction of the rims on the driver's side! Those have to be some impressive rims if you can get them all to spin clockwise. I'd have to venture a guess and say that even Luda himself doesn't have a car that pulls off that feat.

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