William Elliott Whitmore Has One Name Too Many, Tours Anyway

One of my favorite movies is Pepe le Moko. Jean Gabin plays the title character, a suave and powerful criminal trapped in the Casbah of Algiers. The police are after him, as are his rivals, but Pepe is safe in the fortress of the winding streets and alleys of the Casbah. If he leaves, the police will surely pick him up, and Pepe wants to leave. A lovely woman from Paris takes his heart, and Pepe risks safety for love and freedom to catch her before she leaves Algiers.

Pepe le Moko came out in 1937. In 1938, it was remade for America as Algiers> It pales in comparison, but nonetheless gained a few Oscar nominations.

In 1942, a movie called Casablanca came out. Rick, a criminal in a different light, is stuck in his purgatory of Casablanca. In pain if he stays, unable to go because of his past, Rick is in limbo. You know the rest.

Ten years or more have gone by since the initial appearance of this Casbah criminal-lover character cropped up. Why have I gone through this? Well, Casablanca is a movie that's remembered, but it is important to know the history behind it. The influence on Casablanca, a great movie in its own right, is obvious, and it is indebted to Julien Duvivier's film.* It is worth noting, however, that it could have easily been another forgettable movie that the Hollywood system of the time churned out. Algiers comes to mind. So again, why have I gone through this?

Knowing history is important to artwork, for consumers and artists. A tradition is established and new forms are built and influences from years past are worked and reworked. Traditions are enriched by serious artists because they are at the very least known, if not appreciated. The danger comes when we forget our origins and believe that the present artwork is wholly original. Bogart's Rick didn't begin in 1942 but in 1937.

In that respect, it takes some ego to call yourself an artist today. To think that you have something new to say, and that it is important for everyone else to hear -- that's something, that's really something. I don't think William Elliott Whitmore, a folk-blues singer who is constantly touted as "unique," who has "the voice Tom Waits wished he had," has that kind of ego. I think he's an artist who knows his history, and I think his marketers and apologists are doing him a disservice by not knowing theirs and comparing him to Tom Waits and Iron & Wine -- the Casablancas, the Algiers, the followers. William Elliot Whitmore is a follower too, in a larger and deeper tradition, and he's singing about death and sin and the typical fare, but I hope, I hope he knows his history, whether he's saying something new, or in his case, building on the past by not.

# Tim Barry, Josh Small

* Cartoon character Pepe le Pew (Looney Toons) debuted around the same time, if not a couple years later. His origin, at least the name and Mel Blanc's voice-acting, comes from Algiers.

MTV Invests $500 Million in Videogames To Further Inundate and Divert You

MTV has long ago made it clear that it's not in the business of music, it's in the business of culture. Accordingly, MTV is making a two-year, $500 million investment in one of the most profitable cultures around: videogame culture. In the past, MTV has manufactured and sold culture so successfully that investing in videogames seems like a logical step, but according to Reuters, the move is vewed as a risk, as most traditional media companies have failed to penetrate the $30 billion global videogame market (that's a lot of Marios!).

In addition to its strategy of emphasizing accessibility, "casual games" (like those found on AddictingGames.com), and omnipresence through TV, cellphones, and the internet, MTV will be banking on its forthcoming game "Rock Band" to put food on the plate, get a new pair of shoes, bring home the bacon, put the kids through college, etc. The game, which received the coveted "Best of Show" award, allows up to four cocky assholes (of any race, gender, or ethnicity) to play guitar, drums, or sing real-time to new and old rock songs with instrument-based peripherals. In addition to the tracklist below, gamers will be able to download additional tracks and even full albums (including Who's Next by The Who) online, made available every subsequent week after the game is released.

"Rock Band" will be released in North America November 20 on Xbox 360 and PlayStations 2 and 3 (a Wii version is "absolutely" a possibility, though no official announcement has yet been made). The price is still unknown, but rumors place it as high as $200.

Anyway, the real story is that MTV's not just a music channel anymore. But I guess you already knew that.

Featured songs on "Rock Band":

Dan Deacon Continues To Be Impressive And Newsworthy

Dan Deacon’s been all over the news like a teen idol on a post-rehab coke bender. But is he satisfied? No, he’s not satisfied. He’s the farthest thing from satisfied. If satisfied was Earth, he’d be the Andromeda Galaxy of satisfied. Which is probably why he’s putting out a DVD. Listen.

One day, Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche created a video-music performance piece that premiered in 2006 as part of Wham City’s Whartscape. This winter (brrr), they’re putting it on DVD for Carpark Records. It’s called Ultimate Reality. Now, initially you might confuse that with Ultimate Realty. Don’t. They are different.

Ultimate Reality is comprised of an electronic music composition, two live drummers, and alluringly seductive clips of Arnold Schwarzenegger in films from the ‘80s, psychedelic style. No word on whether or not the drummers come with your purchase.

Check it out for yourself with these clips. Clips: (1) (2)

And, of course, Deacon is still circling the globe:

The National Tours; Opts Not To Include Opening Bands and Replaces Them With Presidential Debates

With the 2008 Presidential Election on the horizon, politicians have been experimenting with new ways to attract attention. One example is the hip usage of YouTube and the Obama Girl video, which might as well have been paid for by the Obama Campaign Committee. In light of these hip advances by the political machine, particular Republican presidential candidates such as "America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani and "America's Mormon" Mitt Romney have decided to temporarily team up with Democratic presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama and give "opening act" debates during The National's tour this fall. Apparently, "indie culture" and "indie music" in general is extremely hip, and the demographic that participates in "indie culture" is one that the politicians want to successfully connect with to get these young folks out to vote in 2008. Using my excellent Tiny Mix Tapes press cred, I was able to get Mitt Romney, Hilary Clinton, and Matt Berninger (vocals for The National) to deliver a patented political one-liner about their upcoming "tour."

"I think The National is the perfect band to choose for our debates. Think about it, "The National" is the most appropriate band name for my political agenda. It'll definitely be a success." --Mitt Romney

"I wasn't sure about the tour at first, because I listened to 2005's Alligator and I heard some bad words. Thankfully, I got their label to slap "Parental Advisory" stickers on the album -- now I'm on board." --Hilary Clinton

"We should have never switched labels to Beggar's Banquet. They're not even based in the United States. Fucking British humor" --Matt Berninger

It should be really exciting to see what these politicians have in store this fall; hopefully they discuss meaningful issues and convince me that I should vote in 2008. Oh, and if you're not going for the debates, you can check out The National afterward in these wonderful cities:

* Hilary Clinton & Barack Obama

# Mitt Romney & Rudy Giuliani

(Note: The Chemical Brothers' soundtrack to Fight Club is expected to play throughout the 25-minute opening act/debates.)

Jason Collett Tours, Is Really, Honestly, Seriously, Making Worthwhile Commitments to Culture Without Broken Social Scene, Is Really, Honestly, Seriously Wearing His Heart On His Sleeve, One Fitted Blazer At a Time

E! ENTERTAINMENT NEWS SEGMENT:

Announcer girl with cheap extensions who attempts to shake it like La-Lohan but fails miserably: OH WOW; THIS JUST IN! Jason Collett fans can rest easy: our ex Scenester Jas Baby is hitting the road to tour. That’s right, ladies. Your ticket means seeing JC. In person!

Kinda-too-tan guy announcer counterpart: OMFGOMFGOMFG LIKE I TOTALLY LUV JC OMFG!

Announcer girl with cheap extensions who attempts to shake it like La-Lohan but fails miserably: Woah! There’s only so much of Jas to go around. And if he’s in, GASP, a fitted blazer, there’ll be plenty of lustin’ ladies and jealous gents. So, cool them hotpants, girls! Don’t get too excited, now, but it’s rumored he may even reunite with past group members, who will all dress as marionettes and fly down from platforms, crooning tracks from the hit album No Strings Attached.

TMT reader, baby, sweetheart: ...??...!!...?!?

Kinda-too-tan guy announcer counterpart: Want Jas to notice you? JC GET WIT’ ME, sponsored in part by Pantene Pro-V and Pontiac, wants ya’ll to show your love by making a CLASSIC cardboard sign of affection. Like, the ones you use to get attention from onstage. What are you waiting for? Visit the Pontiac or Pantene Pro-V websites to enter your affectionate poster for the chance to win a makeover, Pontiac G6 convertible, and AUTOGRAPHED blazer from Jas Baby himself.

Announcer girl with cheap extensions who attempts to shake it like La-Lohan but fails miserably: Get on making those signs, ladies! Or it’ll be soooooo hey-hey-bye-bye-bye!

JC, if you were homework I’d do you, if you were a booger I’d pick you:

AT&T Caught Censoring Even More Groups, More Attention Needed

Forget shitty cell phone service, corporate giant AT&T has recently been under fire for an entirely different consistency problem -- their Orwellian practice of political censorship. As TMT and every other internet outlet has reported, during AT&T's webcast of Pearl Jam's set live from Lollapalooza, fans noticed Vedder's most inflammatory, anti-Bush lines mysteriously missing from the live stream. And if there's one thing we've all learned from early '90s alt.rock, it's don't mess with these fans; we've all seen a Rage Against the Machine mosh-pit.

Following an apology from AT&T, citing a "mistake" at the hands of an outside party, more information has surfaced. While the release sent to the recorded bands does not mention the right to censor, a crew member has indeed confirmed that he was told to remove speech if things became "too political," prompting further investigation by angry fans of groups including the John Butler Trio and The Flaming Lips. Eventually, AT&T copped to editing artists in the past "in a handful of cases." Other artists who are rumored to have been quieted include Tom Petty, Nightwatchmen, Lily Allen, and Lupe Fiaso, among others.

Is anyone really surprised? Of course not. But does that mean this is okay? Hell-fucking-no. The practice itself, which showcases fascist tendencies, is ridiculous enough, but AT&T's upfront dishonesty when initially presented with the facts is even more disconcerting. Now that these practices are out in the open, one can only hope that bands will think twice before committing to webcasts in AT&T's Blue Room or affiliated practices. After all, as Wired so vehemently points out, in the absence of net neutrality, where will the filtering end?