Susan Antone, Grupo Fantasma, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Zeale, Continental Club and H.A.A.M. are just a few of the people, places and things mentioned in my upcoming book Indisputable: A Fan's Guide to the Live Music Capital. I should probably make some room in the book for this past Tuesday night.
What makes Austin's live music scene so amazing? With the exception of the festival weekends, it's not the Friday and Saturday nights. No, it's those weekday nights that seem to host more live music than most other cities have room for on weekends. Case in point, last night featured The Derailers and Doug Moreland at Threadgill's, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at La Zona Rosa and Malford Milligan at Antone's for Blue Tuesday. Not that I saw any of those shows.
I was too busy enjoying the Austin City Limits taping with John Legend & The Roots. Black Thought wasn't there to bring his MC skills to the stage, but John Legend channeled Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway and some of the other great R&B legends of yesteryear while ?uestlove played the drums with that familiar and distinct high-hat of awesomeness that I've loved for the last 15 years and many have come to appreciate since the Philly-bred hip-hop group became Jimmy Fallon's late night band. The crowd was a great mix of Austin's scenesters, movers and shakers, from power couple and new parents Jon & Amy Pattillo to Brad Spies of SXSW and John Liipfert at C3 Presents to Knuckle Rumbler's Aaron Berkowitz and Austin Ventures' Ken DeAngelis.
While Ashley and I experienced a free ACL show on the UT campus in the soon-to-be-missed studio, many of our friends were at Stubb's, the best-known outdoor venue in Austin, for a heated performance by electrofunk fan favorites Chromeo. In what was said to be the hottest day of the summer in Austin, Chromeo's show further stoked the fire burning in Austin's live music scene on this particular Tuesday evening. By the time we left the taping and made our way down Red River, we were being greeted at Red 7 with an hour-plus set by DJ Digg, my personal favorite in a talented field of turntablists here in Austin.
By 11:30, with plenty of friends (from both the ACL taping and the Chromeo show) in close proximity, I started what would become a 100-degree, 150-minute, dance and sweat fest sponsored by none other than ?uestlove, drummer-turned-DJ courtesy of Knuckle Rumbler, Proper Entertainment and the other laps this particular last-minute booking fell into. As ?uesto introduced each sample, we listened and danced intently before turning to friends with our best guesses at which song would be next only to be surprised/emboldened when we heard Jay-Z/T.I./Kanye/M.I.A./Wu-Tang Clan/Busta Rhymes/A Tribe Called Quest/Camp Lo/ and every other classic hip-hop cut he played.
At one point in the night, probably around 1 a.m., I turned to my good friend Niraj, who owns Apothecary Cafe & Wine Bar, and in between rapping lyric after lyric I shouted, "This is a f*cking Tuesday!" Pretty please excuse my language, but sometimes it's difficult to find the right words to celebrate the fact that I live in the Live Music Capital. Especially after using up so many of them in the book I just finished writing.
Listen, I know that making a list of the best movies for an entire decade can be difficult. Hell, making a list of the best anything, be it boxes of cereal or sexual partners, can be really hard. That's why I'm going to cut Paste Magazine some slack for some really obvious and troubling omissions from their list of the Best 50 Movies from 2000 - 2010. That being said, I had initially planned on putting together a list of my favorite movies of the past decade, but since Paste captured so many movies I love (from High Fidelity at #49 to City of God at the top spot), I'm going to focus on the ones they missed. So here is my list of the 15 Best Movies from 2000-2010 that aren't included in Paste Magazine's Best Movies of the Decade list.
#15. The Prestige - In 2006, Christopher Nolan took a break from Batman and Inception to direct this picture starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. The story navigates an intense rivalry between two magicians and was written by Nolan and his brother, Jonathan, was based on the Christopher Priest novel and also stars Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie (as Nikola Tesla) and Michael Caine, who seems to be in all of Nolan's films.
#14. Million Dollar Baby - It didn't clean up at the 2004 Academy Awards for no reason, winning Best Picture, Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Actress (Hilary Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman). Paul Haggis put his special touch on the script and the film perfectly displays a young woman's quest to become the best female boxer in the world alongside a man's quest to embrace a fatherly role.
#13. The Hangover - Possibly the best funny movie of the decade not simply on laughs, but because the cast wasn't led by over-paid stars who made their names known in the '90s (unless you count Mike Tyson). Instead, Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms made this one of the most successful comedies of all time with nearly $280 million in domestic receipts. The sequel slated for May 2011 can't possibly live up to the original..or can it?
#12. Avatar - Yeah, it raked in most of it's money in 2010, but it came out during the Holiday season in 2009 and amazingly surpassed James Cameron's other epic, not to be named here, in box office grosses around the world. The biggest accomplishment for this film, however, is beyond the billions...it's the 3-D. Story aside, watching this film was a superior movie-going experience.
#11. Fade to Black - Whether you're a Jay-Z fan or not, this documentary - spanning the making of The Black Album and his sellout show at Madison Square Garden in 2004 - is one for the hip-hop ages.
#10. Closer - Mike Nichols directed one sensational movie when he did this one in '04 starring Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Natalie Portman (my favorite). The story follows two London-based couples who become intertwined in the other's relationships. Natalie Portman plays a stripper.
#9. Ray - Possibly the single-best acting job of the decade with Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles (winning the Oscar for best actor). Taylor Hackford did the music legend a public service with this one in '04.
#8. American Psycho - Christian Bale again and this may be his best acting job yet albeit at the start of the decade. Sure, he's making tons more money as Bruce Wayne, but this is where he turns the Bret Easton Ellis novel into something we can all consume and digest in a couple of hours as Patrick Bateman.
#7. Wall-E - Wall-E (2008) is a gem of a movie. Sure, Up is better because it features (animated) humans and a talking dog and a touching love story, but this one made us all realize that Pixar can produce a best picture contender without relying on a Disney creation.
#6. Children of Men - Clive Owen is on the list again because this 2006 film made us think about the end of the world in a whole new light. Writer/Director Alfonso Cuaron has put his hands on some good scripts, but this is his best work for an American audience in my opinion.
#5. Crash - This is probably the biggest snub from the Paste list, even though it's not #1 on my list, because of its award creds (Best Picture), cast (Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, etc.) and because it was written and directed by Paul Haggis who's name you should know by now.
#4. Requiem for a Dream - Sure, it gives me nightmares if I watch it after 9pm, but it almost never stops me from watching. With Pi, The Fountain and The Wrestler, director Darren Aronofsky has proven himself full of range and the ability to delve into characters intensely and this one is his masterpiece. It's no surprise Angelina Jolie is anxious to work with him on his next film. Let's hope it's not about how drugs can ruin your life like Requiem though...I already learned how to say "NO!"
#3. Michael Clayton - Jamie Foxx has the decade's best Oscar-winning acting job, but George Clooney has the best runner up with this 2007 flick written and directed by Tony Gilroy (best known for his penmanship on the Bourne series), having lost out to Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood. This film has extremely high replay value...like J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, only better acting and less special effects.
#2. Garden State - A lot of good movies came out in 2004 if you can't tell by this list, but my personal favorite from that year and the entire decade for that matter is this one about a guy trying to find himself after years away from family and close to waking-comatose thanks to prescription drugs. I can't tell you how many times I've watched this movie. Sure, part of the reason is because I love Natalie Portman. But mostly it's because Zach Braff's work as the writer, producer, director, soundtrack maestro and star of this movie is stuff for the ages in the off-the-beaten paths of filmmaking.
#1. I Heart Huckabees - I speak to dozens if not hundreds of students every month about my life and what I've come to believe and this movie gets a lot of it. Everything is connected and nothing matters once something else matters more. Gets extra points because it is one of the best casting jobs of the decade known for casting jobs to the extreme (think: Ocean's 13). Sure, David O. Russell is a tough director to deal with by the looks of this clip, but it's still the top movies of the last 10 years of my life.
One of my absolute biggest pet peeves in the world is people who don't know how to manage their time or people who make themselves out to be as busy as the President. They don't return phone calls or emails within a day. They forgot meetings. They can't keep up with their weekly obligations. It's the ultimate lack of professionalism if you ask me. This may be a case of me being too much of an over-achiever to see beyond myself, but I guess that's what makes a pet peeve a pet peeve...it's something that most people don't think twice about.
When I was in elementary school my mom worked two jobs, raised three boys alone and went on more dates than most 20-somethings women I know today. She had a lot of priorities and even more obligations, but she still managed to fit in fun. Needless to say, time-management was one of her finer qualities. So like Kanye says in "Never Let Me Down"..."with that in my blood I was born to be different".
By the time I was 13 years old, this was a normal day for me: Wake up at 7:30, go to school, finish my homework in homeroom class, sell $20 worth of Bubble gum in class, Beta club meeting after school followed by an hour-long track practice, cut a neighbor's yard for $15 once I got home, have dinner with my fam then go to my friend's to hang out until around 9:30. This is around the time that I decided that the next 40 or so years of my life would be spent with increasingly demanding schedules, but I'd continue to enjoy life as long as I balanced my time and who I spent my time with.
At 17 it was something like this: wake up at 5:45 for a three-mile run, go to school (I was a 4.0 student), finish my homework in the last 10 minutes of every class and apply to at least one scholarship every day (I won two or three dozen for college), attend a National Honor Society or FBLA meeting, run six-eight miles in track practice (on my way to being a 4:35 miler/sub-17-min. 5ker), go home and get ready for work, work at Pizza Hut from 6 to 11p.m. As I prepared for college, I realized that every year would come with new challenges, new obligations and new relationships, but if I stayed focused on my goals - both on a daily and weekly basis and on a long-term basis - I'd be able to take it all in stride.
When I was a senior at UT, I was taking a full load of classes including five hours of upper-division Japanese, serving as the chairman of Dance Marathon (a student-run charity event that has since raised more than $150,000 for Dell Children's Hospital), the social chair and rush chair for my fraternity, having doubled the
membership over two years, I worked 20 hours a week for the Texas Longhorns media relations office (not including every basketball and football game and being a big part of Texas Relays and any Big 12 championship event), I worked another 15 hours a week for the Office of Public Affairs, writing for UTexas.edu and On Campus magazine, and topped that off with 20 hours a week interning with Public Strategies, a top public affairs firm in town. I should add that I had a girlfriend at the time, was on my way to my first 500 Facebook friends and was running about 50 miles a week back then. Graduating college was my crowning achievement in life at that point, not only for myself and the years of hard work, but also because I was the first person in my immediate family to do so.
That's why when I listen to "Never Let Me Down" I think some of the lyrics are about time management when he raps:
Now ni**as can't make it to ballots to choose leadership
But we can make it to Jacob and to the dealership
That's why I hear new music
And I just don't be feeling it
He's talking about priorities, yeah, but he's also talking about one's ability to manage their time effectively. That's why when I hear excuses (for how busy you are), I just don't be feelin' it. We have time for the glamorous things like buying a new car or making money, but not the important things like researching candidates and voting because they're not as sexy (or rewarding if we're being honest). This is the truth in day-to-day life too because some people find the time to go to concerts or go shopping but they don't have the time to pick up the phone and call someone or reply to an email. They're running around like they're the President or Oprah Winfrey with 40 meetings scheduled in a work-day fit for 15.
My whole point in all this is that time management starts with what's in your head. If you think you have time to do it, and you do the little things to create that time, then you'll be able to take care of everything you need in the time you have. How busy you are is directly tied to how busy you think you are. If I tried to do everything I was doing at 17 when I was 13, I probably would have gotten flustered...or had I tried to do everything I did when I was a senior in college when I was a senior in high school I would've been overloaded, etc. etc. But by giving myself the mentality that every year would be more tasking (and more rewarding) enabled me to take on new obligations and loftier goals without having more stress. And living under the guise of being sooooo busy.
I was having dinner with a friend the other day and telling him about how I wrote Real Role Models while I worked 70 hours a week in D.C. And, with the lessons I learned doing that, I was able to write my next book Indisputable while starting my own business Sneak Attack and continue doing social media consulting for a Fortune 100 company. In an average day I'm working on a presentation for corporate communicators in between interviews with live music scenesters for my book while selling limited-edition shoes at my shop and ending my day with marathon training and a healthy dinner (and maybe a drink) with Ashley. And the real kicker for most people is how I find time to go to so many shows/movies/cities and blog so often.
It only sounds like a lot because most people have conditioned themselves, over many years, to make themselves sound busier than they really are. If you have three back-to-back meetings, that isn't busy...that's just scheduling. If you have a full day from 8am to 8pm, that isn't stress...that's just life to the fullest.
This post may rub some people the wrong way, and if you're one of those people I hope it's not because you're upset about having crammed this blog into your incredibly busy day. Hell, at least you didn't have to write it.