MOVIE REVIEW: BOONDOCK SAINTS II: ALL SAINTS DAY

Ten years ago a cult phenomena was borne from the fertile imagination of Troy Duffy.  Essentially an ode to vigilante justice, a topic on which Duffy speaks quite passionately (as he does about filmmaking) harkening back to the Bible and certain circumstances which warrant “an eye for an eye”, the stories of Duffy and the Boondock Saints are themselves the things on which Hollywood legend is made.   

A bartender/barback, the magical light of Harvey Weinstein shone down from above, blessing Duffy with cash and a too-good-to-be-true production deal for this longshot idea.    Calling on rootings of Catholicism and the Irish-Catholic community of the Boston area, the Saints made a name for themselves not only with their myriad of killings (all warranted mind you and all inflicted upon the dregs of society whom we shall not miss) but the manner in which they killed.  Brothers, Connor and Murphy MacManus (the Saints), believe in right and wrong, moral consequence, faith, loyalty, family and each other.  Doing everything in tandem, complete with stylized killings and a calling card of prayers before pulling the trigger and pennies covering the eyes of the deceased, they became legends.  Great basic story, right?  Guns, action and good looking guys, great selling point, right?  But, as we all know, if the deal seems to good to be true, it generally is, and by the time SAINTS was made, legal wranglings abounded and theatrical release was “limited” at best.  Also adding to the 1999 problems was the Columbine incident which caused many to “blacklist” THE BOONDOCK SAINTS.   But, according to Duffy, thanks to Blockbuster as, “they gave us a real big, uncommon release that put 60 to 120 copies per store in all their stores because they felt this was a much bigger movie”.  As a result, the word got on these bad ass, kick ass, fine looking gentleman and the legend, and explosive groundswell cult following of THE BOONDOCK SAINTS began. Continue reading

MICHAEL JACKSON – THIS IS IT

Foreword by Stan Lerner: in general blogs about Sin City / Las Vegas should read fast and fun. This blog won’t, because Michael Jackson “This Is It” is a brilliant film born from an incredible loss to the world—the musical genius of Michael Jackson.

This story, for me, begins with a text message on my iphone that read “Michael Jackson has passed away,” which I received thirty minutes before other media sources. I decided not to break the story. It’s just not the type of blogging I personally aspire to.

After several days of friends and readers asking me to write something about the death of Michael Jackson, I acquiesced and did so. I chose to define the thru line that the media would take, given the enormous amounts of money that would inevitably be at stake. I said that the King of Pop’s personal life would be faded and his music both rediscovered and celebrated. Good business and frankly the preference of the public.

As I sat in Jerry Olivarez’s beautiful suite on the 32nd floor of the Palms Hotel’s Fantasy Tower, Michael Jackson “This Is It” was the furthest thing from my mind. Jerry is the Executive Director of PR for Brenden Theatres and I was there to discuss blogsincity business. But as things go Jerry, Joe and I began to discuss the premiere of  “This Is It”, which was being held at the Brenden Theatre just off the casino in the Palms. Because this particular theatre is home base to Johnny Brenden himself it is by definition the company’s flagship. And although it had nothing to do with what I was there to discuss I accepted Jerry’ s gracious offer to attend the premiere.

The event began as anyone would expect, there was lots of press on hand to witness—Johnny Brenden presenting Joe Jackson with a star on the Brenden Theatre walk of fame. And while Johnny himself could be a Vegas reality show, which I’d gladly produce, this blog really takes a turn in a different direction—the movie.

AEG who put up the money for the “This Is It” tour and myself have butted heads on a couple of issues regarding their LA Live project in Los Angeles in the past. The fact that they sold the rehearsal footage to be used for the movie to Sony for sixty million dollars, well added to my discomfort given AEG’s claim of having no financial interest in holding a Michael Jackson funeral event at Staple’s Center. But all of that being said it’s a great thing that Kenny Ortega was given the opportunity to put the footage together into “This Is It” because it answers a lot of questions. Continue reading

PRIVE, TAO, NOIR – LAS VEGAS GRAND SLAM

Foreword by Stan Lerner: WARNING! this blog is a sexual escapade. If you are offended by promiscuity do not read any further. And for my readers who demanded some Downtown Oliver Brown salacious behavior you owe me because this really tired me out.

Roxy wanted to go to dinner—and I was confident that I could squeeze it in, drop her back off, she lives way the hell out there, and still meet Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson at Prive by 10:30. And that’s how good a time I had the night before—I was going back to the same club two nights in a row—unheard of in Sin City. Oh, and then I planned on going to Toa and Noir…I call this a Las Vegas Grand Slam…I know Alec Silverman is out there somewhere waiting to correct me factually given I’ve only named three places, but a Las Vegas Grand Slam has nothing to do with places, so not going to happen old sport.

What I hadn’t planned on was a sexual encounter with a zombie. See, I decided to take Roxy to Freemont Street and enjoy some fish tacos outside at Mickie Finnz…Out of the gutter boys I really wanted fish tacos. Anyway, it turns out unbeknownst to either Roxy or myself that there was a dance of the dead going on upstairs—and a good dance of the dead is always preceded by a march of the dead, in this particular instance down Freemont Street. So there I was in the bathroom minding my own business taking care of business…

“Excuse me this is the men’s bathroom,” I said to the extremely attractive, mutilated, Catholic schoolgirl. Continue reading

PRIVE – LAS VEGAS

Before there was Prive Las Vegas, there was lunch at Country Club at the Wynn. And this little event disserves some recollection—not easy since I got in at 7:00 this morning and I have to recollect something from 48 hours ago. First, given the thousand room nights I’ve logged at the Wynn / Wynn Tower Suites I don’t know how it escaped me that there was a country club there that overlooked an incredibly scenic golf course. I knew it existed, but I had just managed to not walk down the hallway fifty feet past the buffet. And no, I don’t eat at buffets.

Enter: Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson now known to all from my previous blog “Tao”…If you haven’t read the back story you’re not getting the full benefit of my debauchery—and I sacrifice for you / your reading pleasure.

“Let’s meet up at the Country Club at Wynn,” said Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson. “You’re going to like it, it has a great view…And I spend my whole life in hotels and clubs, so I can use a view of the outdoors.”

“I’m on my way. Oh, and I’d like to schedule some time with Roberto “Chef Dos Caminos” Hernandez to talk about Dos Caminos and his whole chef story.

“He’s sitting here with Roxy and Armando,” replied Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson, satisfied to have anticipated my desire to get to know the destined for greatness young chef. Discovering great things and great, talented people is my thing. It doesn’t pay cash, but it makes me a happy person.

The outside tables had all been taken, the weather in Vegas is gorgeous this time of year, and Jessie “James VIP Host” Gibson, his sidekick from LA whose name I can never remember but he knows a bunch of people or something, Roberto “Chef Dos Caminos” Hernandez, Roxy, and Fat Andy, who I brought along to keep me company, all sat in a large round table in the far corner. But of course there is no table far enough to keep a group like this from clearing the place.

I should mention here that Roxy is attractive, not textbook attractive like most of the girls I sleep with, but there is that something special about her. And she is way smarter than the average person. And her wit, though not quick as mine, but whose is, her wit is keen. And I like that. So when she said to Fat Andy, “I want to teach second grade, but I don’t think I want to have kids.” I said, “You’ll change your mind about that once you get to know me.” She retorted, “I’ve changed my mind already.” Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson’s friend whose name I can never remember with a sweeping motion of his arm cleared the dishes to the floor. “Just go for it!” And for a moment I seriously contemplated having intercourse with Roxy on the table. But then it dawned on my that she was probably just kidding about having my children, which made for a good laugh for all…And some explaining about the dishes—the old allergic reaction excuse came quickly to my tongue. Continue reading

TAO – NIGHTCLUB

I think I mentioned last week that I had a great dinner at Tao. What I didn’t mention was that on this one night little Vegas excursion with James Westbrook, Hollywood deal maker extraordinaire, that good old (he’s not actually old) Jessie Gibson plopped down and joined us for some vittles. Jessie “James” VIP Host as I call him is actually just that. Much like my little brother (we’re not actually brothers) Carlos “Pure” Harper, Jessie is a guy that can get you settled and all comfy with a bottle of the good stuff at Tao and or Prive. And for those not so familiar, two of the better clubs in Vegas. And so it went that Jessie and I resolved to go out and do some merry making—thus I returned to Sin City and Tao, but not before a couple of stops.

“Let’s meet at Don Vicente’s and smoke some cigars,” said Dave The Jew.

“Good idea,” said I, as I plowed down the 15 toward Sahara—completely blowing off a very important meeting with Steve Wynn. Okay, the meeting with Steve Wynn is a complete falsehood, but you have to admit the pretext makes for a funny story.

Anyway, check out my blog about Don Vicente’s Cigars—in fact I’ll repost it on Monday when I will be way too tired from the weekend to write anything. So I sat and smoked cigars, really good cigars, with the boys—Dave The Jew, Fat Andy and others. Andy and I have been friends since second grade; just to throw in an extraneous fact meant to cause an endearing feeling about long lasting friendships. At some point Jessie stopped by. He’s not a big smoker, but I lighted him up anyway and Dave The Jew insisted that he drink some good whiskey…And I did too.

Six cigars and half a bottle later I met up with Jessie “James” VIP Host and a friend of his from LA whose name I can’t remember, but I’m sure he knows everyone. At Dos Caminos, which is located in Palazzo…And last week I gave Palazzo a pretty good review. Strange that I had noticed Dos Caminos, but didn’t mention it because I hadn’t eaten there. Anyway, at Dos Caminos we chilled with Executive Chef Roberto Hernandez and ate an incredible assortment of food. Roberto is all of 28 and he’s been cooking since he’s 4-years-old or something. I’m not going to get into a review here, but seriously my new best friend knows how to make some guacamole and chips. Funny, but just a touch of lime really makes a difference apparently. This restaurant is a sleeper—it could easily be way hot one day.

Tao—Jessie “James” VIP Host whisked us through the line. Continue reading

MOVIE REVIEW: ASTRO BOY

In addition to my love and mesmerization with movies from small on, a key visual element in my youth was cartoons – and not just your standard Bugs, Tweety, Taz or Tom & Jerry.  No I went full bore along with my brothers for the early Japanese anime complete with dubbed voices.  Part and parcel of a 60′s era Philadelphia tradition, Wee Willie’s Cartoon Corners was the only place to get your afternoon fix of  futuristic adventure complete with Speed Racer and my fave, the 1960′s black & white Osuma Tezuka classic, ASTRO BOY.  So ingrained was ASTRO BOY in my youth that the television theme song was even used for a choreography routine in our second grade school play.  Already long beloved in Asia, ASTRO BOY had universal appeal with his goodness, adventure and excitement that permeated the 60′s cartoon culture. After all, how many of you wouldn’t want jet rockets for legs and incredible strength to power through rock walls with just your fist, and still be a darn good friend, although I think we all agree that Astro’s shirtless speedo look wasn’t exactly what we could wear to school. Continue reading

ROCK ‘N FISH – ROCKS

Torn between readers who want stories about national topics and those who want to know what’s going on in the very happening Downtown LA always presents a conundrum for this writer. Balance being the key to most things in life and the fact that I’ve been desirous of writing about Rock ‘N Fish LA Live for a long time now—this one is for my people in my hometown The City of Angels. And for those readers abroad, you’re going to come to Los Angeles one day, so make a note: eat at Rock ‘N Fish LA live, you’re going to like it.

For the ultra faithful it could tickle your AEG bone that I’m writing about a dining establishment in the heart of LA Live given our stormy relationship, but this place is too good to throw out with the bathwater. And given that I’ve taken to eating at Rock ‘N Fish several days a week I wouldn’t want a Stan sighting to send the observer of such into shock. I should mention here that while most of the restaurants at LA Live are big corporate owned entities, Rock ‘N Fish is one of a chain of two, the original being a beach legend down in the South Bay.

So of all the restaurants in all of the places that I travel…It all started months ago when I ran into Eric / manager of Rock ‘N Fish…I’m leaving out the part about the hot publicist, but the story really begins with me sitting on the very nice patio, one of the best in Downtown, listening to some great rock ‘n roll, thus the name Rock ‘N Fish, and eating almost everything on the menu—not one thing that I wouldn’t order again. But before talking about the food I have to digress for a moment and say that Rock ‘N Fish LA Live is about more than food, Rock ‘N Fish LA Live is about community. All of LA Live combined has not made an effort equal to that of Rock ‘N Fish to be part of what’s going on Downtown and downtownster is all about supporting those that support us.

The food: Rock ‘N Fish much like another favorite restaurant of mine, Continue reading

PALAZZO

Why in the middle of writing a script, “Downtown Oliver Brown”, I would hop into James’ Hummer and road trip to Vegas I don’t know. I miss the “Road To Nowhere”, gypsy, just irresponsible, need change of scenery, all of the above—whatever, I’m in Vegas.

So why not a travel blog? This qualifies as work. But what to blog about? I called the Wynn PR department, no spa reviews on such short notice, I was notified. Too bad because I could have used a day at the spa to go along with not writing. Of course I jest! Somewhere around Barstow, James decided we’d be staying at Palazzo. And I’ve never written about this still new hotel…UNTIL NOW!

Now my regular readers know that the style of my writing varies upon my mood, the full moon, cash or lack there of, and on and on….Admittedly, I’m in peculiar mood today, so let’s call this, yet another innovation to the craft of writing, my fast and loose style. Frankly, this could be dangerous to anyone or anything that falls or in this case, past tense, fell into my bull’s eye…So watch out Palazzo!

Actually, I’ve strolled through the Palazzo a few times since it first opened and to be fair, I held off writing about the new addition to The Venetian because it opened its retail in phases and in general I garnered that it opened a bit sooner than optimum—and in a terrible economy. But there’s been plenty of time to get it together so…

 Next Day—Tired In A Good Way From Vegas

I liked the Palazzo. Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE

Foreword by Stan Lerner: the numbers came in last week “Road To Nowhere” was downtownster’s most read blog in September 2009, which at least to this author merits a reposting on the homepage. New readers enjoy! Longtime readers, enjoy again!!!

“If anybody would like to join the first downtownster road to nowhere road trip I’ll be leaving Thursday or Friday,” I said to the meeting of the Marketing Round Table. “I don’t know where we’re going or when we’ll get there, but that’s the idea. And uh, you could get on or off the trip at any time or place—providing that there is an airport of course.” NO TAKERS

Friday morning 4:30 a.m. the 1996, black, Chevy Suburban docked at the curb of my childhood home in Montebello, CA—Montebello is Italian for beautiful hills. And it is from this very spot, that I have departed for many an adventure. I am fortunate to, over an excessively well-lived lifetime, have developed a number of friends who are willing to embark on such journeys. And I should be careful to mention here that some of these individuals were mere acquaintances or even less familiar at the time of departures, but traveling and adventure make for far greater bonds than the songs of fraternity boys in their beer soaked homes.

This particular morning it was to be my old high school buddy Mike Munoz picking me up. Although he went to West Point and achieved the rank of Colonel I still refer to him as my Mexican—I find this term of endearment more special than he does.

“The 15?” he asked.

“Sure. Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and see if Andy wants to come with…No his mom is visiting…Let’s grab breakfast in Vegas and stop by to see Andy anyway. Maybe he can meet up with us later… How many miles do you have on this thing?”

“One hundred and eighty-six thousand. Where do you want to eat in Vegas?” asked Mike, seemingly settled into our trip within minutes. Twenty-five years ago a trip in his yellow, convertible corvette took us from coast to coast…

“All these years I’ve been going to Vegas, working in Vegas, living in Vegas, and I’ve never eaten at The Egg and I. Have you?”

He shook his head. “No. Where is it?”

“On Sahara. Let’s go there.”

Forty minutes of good conversation ensued until…  “Hey that’s the 15,” I said pointing at the exit. The Suburban swung across five lanes of traffic as can only be accomplished at such an early hour on the 10 Freeway. We could have wound up in Palm Springs or Arizona for that matter, but that’s the point, it really didn’t matter.

“Hey, let’s pull off in Barstow I like the new Starbucks there—cute girl baristas.”

Mike shrugged. “Okay.”

ROAD TO NOWHERE PART II

The black Suburban rolled down the highway with the mean rumble of a venerated work vehicle. I raised the cappuccino, which I held in my hand, to my lips and took the first soothing sip. Given the distinctly not stylish clothing being warn by Mike and myself and the rugged “Road Warrior” appearance of our vehicle my choice of a cappuccino, as my early morning sustenance seemed a strange juxtaposition—black coffee would have been the appropriate beverage of such a portrait. Continue reading

THE RAVEN

Foreword by Stan Lerner: Edgar Allan Poe was finally given a funeral befitting one of the greatest writers to have ever lived—a debt of gratitude is owed to the city of Baltimore for this. Edgar Allan Poe and I share January 19th as a birthday and it is the poem below that he wrote just a few years before his death in 1845 that I would list as one of the literary works that inspired me to become a writer. Do you remember the first time you read The Raven? Well here it is…Thank you Mr. Poe.

 The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore–

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–

Only this and nothing more.”

 

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow;–vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow–sorrow for the lost Lenore–

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore–

Nameless here for evermore.

 

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“‘Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door–

Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;

This it is and nothing more.”

 

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you”–here I opened wide the door–

Darkness there and nothing more. Continue reading