Obstructed reView: Career Day–Decisions
Iâ€™m bad with small decisions. Those who know me know this. What to eat, who to call, I never listen to the same playlist twice (I also canâ€™t pull the trigger on erasing one). My Netflix queue has well over 500 movies on it. Itâ€™s endemic to everyone who happens to be me: decisions take much longer than the actions theyâ€™re about to launch. Itâ€™s Career Day on Obstructed reView. I was all set to write about Steve Buscemi. I knew how it would go: Iâ€™d start with the story about how he was excited after reading the Fargo script (letâ€™s just assume all these Buscemi links are NSFW). It said his character was â€œfunny-lookingâ€ so he told the Coens that he would do something to his eyes, his teeth, maybe a scar. â€œWaddaya think?â€ *Long Pause as Coens look at Each Other* â€œOh. Sure. Sounds great, Steve.â€ Then Iâ€™d cover Millerâ€™s Crossing, Reservoir Dogs and ConAir, his shift to directing and his many great moments in television. But you donâ€™t need me to remind you how good this guy is. Youâ€™re not a moron. So I moved on. I considered the careers of a few directors, but this week I canâ€™t really devote the time necessary to do justice to the careers of my favorites.
Iâ€™m not in the mood to feature anyone particularly obscure or forgotten and you donâ€™t need my help discovering the genius of Scorsese or Lumet. At some point Iâ€™ll write about the several careers of Jessica Tandy. Iâ€™ll spend a week on Don Cheadle or the uniquely brilliant Carol Kane. But none of these seem right for today. Iâ€™ve got things in the pipe about sports movies, Hollywood thugs/henchmen, and the best movies/scenes with no music.
Right now, though, Iâ€™m sitting on my couch watching â€œCrossroadsâ€. It occurs to me that I hate this show. Itâ€™s not a fiery angry type of emotion, just an intense ambivalence that has little to recommend it as an experience. In theory, it totally works: letâ€™s get some music people together from different worlds and make them play together. Itâ€™s worked well in the past (though not always). The problem with this show, though, is that one act or the other always sucks. Always. So the experiment is destined to explode in slime and pain before the chemicals are even mixed. In light of this painful morning Iâ€™ve got going on, Iâ€™ve decided todayâ€™s career recommendation is going to be the music of Daryl Hall. Thereâ€™s a channel on DirecTv called â€œPalladiaâ€ (never to be confused with this). It might more accurately be called â€œMusic TeleVisionâ€ but that name is inexplicably trademarked by a demonstrably awful non-music station on basic cable. Anyway, in addition to Crossroads, Palladia has the broadcast rights to a show called â€œLive From Darylâ€™s Houseâ€. After a quick look at their schedule, I honestly donâ€™t think they show anything else. Channel 567 on my television seems to be a live feed from Daryl Hallâ€™s upstate New York house. Itâ€™s kind of like a reality show, except everyone acts exactly the way actual people actually act. (By â€œpeopleâ€ we are agreed to mean â€œDaryl Hall and his parents and other famous musicians. And chefs.â€) Every episode features a musical guest who spends the day with Daryl and the House Band. They jam in the rustic/awesome studio; they cook, drink lots of wine and swap tour stories. Daryl wears sunglasses and leather like itâ€™s 1977. Seems a good bet there is a 1977-themed room somewhere in Darylâ€™s house.
The best guests have been a mix of all genres, all time zones. Great bands Iâ€™d forgotten like Finger 11 (also known as Rainbow Butt Monkeys) show up for a day or maybe Todd Rundgren stops by. One episode strange-perfectly features an a cappella doo-wop collaboration by Darylâ€™s Band, Frank Stallone and Chiddy Bang (isnâ€™t there another musical Stallone?). Recent hitters like Minus the Bear, Chromeo or Fitz and the Tantrums are followed by Keb’ Mo’, Toots and the Maytals and then Smokey Freaking Robinson. Itâ€™s hard to decide whether itâ€™s better when the visitor is star-struck or when Daryl is tongue-tied and nervous at jamming with one of his heroes (btw, Gym Class Heroesâ€™ Travis McCoy has a stellar episode). Local chefs get their five minutes of air-time cooking with the star and his guests, or maybe Darylâ€™s mom makes apple sauce for everyone. Noelle Scaggs is asked to duet â€œSara Smileâ€ on her birthday and seems like she might concuss herself in the ensuing endorphin stampede. Butch Walkerâ€™s episode was the first I caught, and it hooked me right away (that sentence was mostly an excuse to post this link–thanks again, Butch).
The House Band for the show is filled with crazy talent. The current musical director/lead guitarist is Paul Pesco, whose resume is packed with insane diversity, and heâ€™s joined by a small group with a full sound (the late Daryl Hall & John Oates musical director Tom Wolk was rightfully and heavily featured until his passing in 2010). They perfectly support Darylâ€™s laid-back persona with more of the same, and bring personality and humor to the meals and conversation sprinkled through the show.
Now for my obligatory signature flawed metaphor. Daryl, to me, is Manute Bol (obviously) and this show just reinforces the association. Heâ€™s one of the best, most beloved and arguably successful players of his era, but is not in the first wave of names you pull. Once you do run across him, all the memories come dribbling back. Iconic moments from a game-changing talent. All 62 episodes of Live From Darylâ€™s House are available on his website and much of it is clipped and hung on the YouTube. If youâ€™ve got DirecTv, though, Palladia is the most effective delivery system right now. As long as Crossroads isnâ€™t playing. That show is the worst. Almost.
Todayâ€™s Streaming Bonus recommendation comes from Netflix. I briefly linked to its theme song in my opening bit about Buscemi. Miller’s Crossing is on my short list for â€œfavorite film of all timeâ€ and is a must-watch for fans of mob movies or the Coens. The dialogue is noir-perfect and performances from John Turturro, Marcia Gay Harden, Jon Polito, Gabriel Byrne and Albert Finney match anything else theyâ€™ll ever do. Strangely, it doesn’t seem to be in widescreen, which is a knock against Netflix. I’m still going to watch it right now. Also, in honor of the movie, I want a glass of whiskey just so I can listen to the ice hit the glass. Get to it.
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