This new HBO series has been hyped to the skies, the most egregious example of which was when Salon.com called it a “generational event.” Huh? Back in my younger years, generational events were stuff like the assassinations of both Kennedys and Martin Luther King and the Vietnam War. I can even say that of such lesser later landmarks of an entertainment nature as the rise of punk rock, the coming of MTV and the death of Kurt Cobain. As one might expect, a half-hour sitcom of sorts about four young women in the hipster community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn hardly measures up. In fact I am still scratching my head as to its appeal and it has yet to evoke a genuine laugh. But there is something about it that keeps exerting some small pull. But if you want to keep current with the current zeitgeist of today’s young adults, this is the show. For now I am still in wait and see mode as to whether it’s the next Sex and the City or just a dud.
On the other hand, HBO’s other new half-hour comedy offering won me with its first episode. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss of Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live fame plays the first female vice president and makes it a tour de force for her comedic skills. After all, it is a job once hilariously described as “you die, I fly” by the first George Bush due to one of its main duties being the American governmental presence at state funerals around the world. Louis-Dreyfuss makes the most of the office’s second fiddle status with sly genius, and it’s a great send-up of what passes for mores and manners inside the beltway. And given how screwed up Washington, DC is today, it’s nice to have something political to laugh about that’s not all too disturbingly real.
I first became aware of Smither in the 1970s, and over time he has become one of the most reliably excellent singer-songwriters in modern music. With his melodically rich and propulsive finger-picking, a gift for the seductive groove, a loamy voice with range and versatility for composing great songs that hit home to the heart, soul and mind (have yet to hear a clunker from his pen), he has staked out his own little corner of country-blues so well that its almost like he has his own mini-style. This excellent disc goes between gut-bucket numbers and near-chamber style roots music with strings, and gets better with every enjoyable listen.
From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2012
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