Rubble Kings: a movie

Gene and I lived in New York in the late 70s, and I can say I was shaped by the decay and civil breakdown of that time. Ford to City Drop Dead made loyalists of us all. I’m reading Garth Risk Hallberg’s massive novel, City on Fire, which takes place in New York in 1977. So far–I’m only 250 pages in–the punk scene is his focus, but in those years, in the Bronx, another Do It Yourself movement was taking shape. Today we call it Hip Hop.

This bit about a movie called Rubble Kings makes the case that the gang summit in The Warriors was a real event, and the peace that followed (in the real world) is what created the culture that helped Hip Hop grow.

I don’t know about that history, I was downtown, but what I do know is that the music coming out of the South Bronx was as captivating as that percolating in the East Village. Here’s a trailer for the movie Rubble Kings, which surely looks like its worth a peak.

Los Punks, a trailer

Los Punks, We Are All We Have is a film about the punk rock scene in the Hispanic communities of East and South LA.

No judgement on the music, I haven’t heard it yet, but what interests me is the language of community and shared support for the outcasts, which turned out to be a serious message of the original punks (though I’m pretty sure none of them set out to promote that). But it happened. (Maybe in the second wave, and the one after that.)

Movies: Josh White, “You Won’t Let Me Go”

I don’t really have nearly as much of a familiarity with the blues–at least their origins–as I do Brit Pop, and New Wave, and 60’s pop and a lot of other musical categories that would be nothing without Robert Johnson and the Reverend Gary Davis.

And, I am a serious TCM junkie, in addition to my dependencies on just about everything else in life, and I have been watching Westerns a lot lately, for what reason I do not know other than I like them. Westerns do seem to speak to a simpler time, though I am surely not suggesting we turn back the clock on much of anything.

But, the exploration and development of the West was indeed the romantic period of America’s bloodline like King Arthur is to England, Samurai are to Japan, and Star Wars is, for example, to space movies.

Well, the other day, as I was surfing through the channels and on the Western channel, the film The Walking Hills was on.

Unfortunately, it was about 40 minutes into the film, and what grabbed my attention was the motley group gathered around a fire ring in the desert, when suddenly Josh White broke into a great song, playing guitar and singing.

I did not know who Josh White was, and I had never heard of The Walking Hills, so I went to the IMDB and looked up the film, and discovered a boatload of good shit.


  • Directed by John Sturges, in 1949. Sturges was the son of Preston Sturges, and also directed The Magnificent Seven (which is a riff on The Seven Samurai), Bad Day at Black Rock, and The Great Escape, among others.
  • The Walking Hills is considered to be the only “noir western.”
  • Preston Sturges was the king of the screwball comedies, having made Sullivan’s TravelsThe Lady Eve, and Remember the Night, among others, and was among the first screenwriters to use his skill to move into direction, and then control of his films during the heyday of the Hollywood system.
  • The Walking Hills featured a ton of folks who were great character actors during those golden Hollywood years, but that most of us grew to know via television. Among them:
    • Edgar Buchanan: Uncle Joe in Petticoat Junction, Shane, and The Talk of the Town.
    • John Ireland: Spartacus, Red River, and Day of the Nightmare.
    • Arthur Kennedy: Was in a zillion movies, including Lawrence of Arabia, Elmer Gantry, High Sierra, and Emmanuel on Taboo Island (I guess even actors have to eat?).
    • Randolf Scott: Big western star in the 40’s and 50’s, was in Sam Pekinpah’s Ride the High Country, Santa Fe, and My Favorite Wife.
    • Ella Raines: OK, I had never heard of Ms. Raines, but man was she hot in this film. Swear.
    • Josh White: A blues musician who recorded with Leadbelly, among others, and who made me search hither and yon in for the song White sang at the campfire, but I couldn’t. I had never heard of White either, and the beauty of the campfire scene is White really focused as much on playing guitar as singing. And, he could really play.  Anyway, this is what I could find to share that gives you an idea:



Sunday Funnies: Chico Marx, Lucinda Williams, and Hayes Carll and friends

I was stumbling around the television channels on Friday, in search of something funny or challenging, or even both.

As documented here before, I am a big fan of the Cartoon Network’s night time adult diversion, Adult Swim, which presents the most cutting edge/satire/intelligence of any station anywhere.

One show I love on Adult Swim is “Squidbillies,” which features the incorrigible Early Cuyler, a red neck squid who lives with his son, Rusty, Grandma, and sister Lil in the Appalachians where he makes meth and white lightening from pine cones while the family purports to supply “peanuts and hairdoos.”

It is pretty irreverent and good fun (if you watch, check the different hats Early wears).

Well, Squidbillies has a pretty good alt country theme song, and lo and behold, when I watched Friday, I heard Lucinda Williams singing the theme.

So, here is that:

But, in search of Lucinda on YouTube, I found this great little jam that features Hayes Carll, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Unknown Hinson, Rhett Miller, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, David Rawlings, Todd Snider, Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams and that was also on one episode.

If that wasn’t enough, I then found “A Night at the Opera” on TCM, , and though I have seen it a lot (I am sure more than 50 times) it still kills me (all their movies do).

But, I thought this great clip of Chico (and his very long fingers) doing his nominal piano thing made it more than worth presenting his rendition of “All I do is Dream of You.”

Haile Wreckommended: Must-See Flickee

More the music of you guys than me (Lawr especially), just saw this tonight and it was quite excellent. Not quite It Might Get Loud (more my music than yours), still quite excellent nonetheless.

My guess is you guys probably know the gist – this bunch of unheralded primo musicians made the entire 60’s more like The Monkees than anyone wanted to admit at the time. Please do see it. You will like it:

Night Music Too: Bjork, “My Favorite Things”

Movie clips are a problem, of course. Without the context, does it mean anything?

Lars Van Trier is one of my favorite directors, and Bjork has long been my favorite Icelandic vocalist. Put 1 and 1 together and you get way more than two. Though I think you’ll have to watch Dancer in the Dark to see what I’m getting at.

For now, this is a disembodied clip of a singular singer coping in a musical she wishes she’d never signed up for. Still, she shines, and it isn’t all Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

Breakfast Blend: Penelope Spheeris

I’d never heard of Dudes, a Jon Cryer as a punk road movie, until I posted the Vandals song Urban Struggle last night. The YouTube video I found of US was played over clips from Dudes, which looks truly terrible. So, I was disturbed this morning to discover that Dudes was directed by Penelope Spheeris, who made the documentary, Decline of Western Civilization, and Suburbia, a roughly made but excellent teen movie that takes place along the periphery of the LA punk scene in the early 80s.

Here’s a clip from Decline.

And I posted this clip from TSOL in Suburbia last year on Oscar night. It’s just a taste.