Do You Remember the ’90s? Lisa Loeb Does!

Lisa Loeb, who strummed a guitar into our hearts and begged us to "Stay"—stay, please stay, where are you going? noooo, stayyyyy—never really went anywhere, but she’s back, sort of, with a new album called No Fairy Tale. It’s her tenth album, but her first record for adults in five years. (She released an album for children called Lisa Loeb’s Silly Silly Sing-Along: ‘The Disappointing Pancake’ and Other Zany Songs last year.) While she’s best known for her debut single, which was inclued on the soundtrack for Reality Bites (one of the most ’90s movies to ever ’90s), she’s hardly a one-hit wonder. Don’t you remember "I Do"? I do!

Of course, it’s always tough for musicians to break out of the identities they build with their earliest work, particularly when it’s so associated with the "alternative" (and all it doesn’t mean) from an era currently enjoying a cultural revival. So, of course, Lisa Loeb’s new album features a song call "The ’90s." Loeb opens up to Entertainment Weekly about writing the song:

Chad [Gilbert, New Found Glory guitarist and Loeb’s producer] literally said, “We should write a song about the ’90s,” and I thought “Ugh.” Yes, I was popular in the ’90s, but what am I going to write about the ’90s? I don’t want it to be some cutesy song about the ‘90s, but then I thought I wasn’t sure if my resistance was because I was scared, or what it was. So I tried to write it, and I decided to write it about the specific incident of making the video for “Stay.” About the dress I wore, about my shoes that I wore, and a couple of things I hadn’t been able to express before…

When I first started out, I remember reading press and people would call me a waif, and I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously as a musician. That felt so strange to me, because that’s what I had done my whole life: Play guitar, write music, play music. I wasn’t this pop singer that appeared out of nowhere, I had been working at this forever. Then when it came to making the video for “Stay,” I had to make the decision: Did I want to go with Ethan Hawke’s idea about a one-take video that would not include my band, or did I want to prove to everybody that I had a rock band and I had been doing this forever? I chose Ethan’s idea of doing it in one take, which I thought was so strong and unique and interesting and told a great story. But now here I am with the song “The ’90s” where I can explain the situation in my specific way that I had a short dress and Betsey Johnson worked with me, and these are the shoes I was wearing, and I didn’t get to go with my band, and I’m not a folkie. I had to keep telling people I wasn’t a folk singer even though I played acoustic guitar. It’s important for me to talk about this time period, which I love, but again as I say exactly in the chorus, I loved it then but I don’t want to go back. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about it and reminiscing, but I also love moving forward.

Take a listen to "The ’90s" below, via Spotify:

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You Guys, The ’90s

As an idiot millennial twentysomething, I cannot legally blog for a week without mentioning that I love the hell out of some 1990s. Take for example these Archers of Loaf reissuestotally rad. I haven’t gotten around to the original versions of these albums, though, because I’m still working through the early stuff. Someday!

Speaking of ‘90s music, can you believe that the M83 song “Midnight City” samples Bill Clinton playing saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show? MIND BLOWN.

I mainly love the ‘90s because I was ten years old back then. Not for the whole decade, but I’m pretty sure I was ten somewhere in there. With a mushroom cut. Also Bugle Boy sweatsuits. In a few different color patterns.

My parents didn’t let me watch a lot of TV, but I can tell you there were great shows on back then. Easily the best was Legends of the Hidden Temple, which was like if GUTS were about Indiana Jones instead of getting pelted with Nerf balls. (Oh yeah, Nerf!) My favorite episode of Hidden Temple was the one with the giant talking stone head. And, if you absolutely forced me to choose, my favorite episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? has to be the one with the campfire.

Hey, come back: I remember some other stuff about the ‘90s. Like how the police were caught on video beating up O. J. Simpson. The Yankees were unbelievably good the whole time. Nothing was cooler than yo-yos.

And we all knew that global warming was real.

Apparently ‘Jaws’ Fans Are Maniacs

In addition to it being Shark Week, it’s also the 37th anniversary of Jaws, Steven Spielberg’s duh you know what Jaws is why am I even bothering to explain it. Because of how the zeitgeist works, I guess, Universal is releasing the thriller on Blu-ray for the first time to coincide with everybody’s Shark Fever. And because it’s August, which is typically a slow-news month for pop-culture blogging (we don’t like to touch on politics and mass shootings, OK?), it’s all anyone is talking about this week. And, apparently, it’s worth mentioning that there’s a subculture of Jawsheads and they are, in fact, cripplingly insane. 

Over at New York magazine, author Rachel Kramer Bussel treks up to Martha’s Vineyard not for a vacation, but to hang out with a bunch of people who are into dressing like Richard Dreyfuss (sadly not What About Bob? Richard Dreyfuss) and showing off their awesome Jaws nail art. Ladies and gentleman, these are the denizens of Jawsfest:

For the fans who traveled from Argentina, Scotland, Sweden, the U.K., and across the United States, the names Joe Alves (production designer), Peter Benchley (deceased author of the novel Jaws), and Carl Gottlieb (Jaws screenplay co-author) are just as—if not more—important as the movie’s lead actors. None of the major surviving cast members attended Jaws, but the attendees went just as crazy for the ones with smaller roles who did show up: Susan Backlinie, who played Victim Number One Chrissie; Lee Fierro, who played Mrs. Kintner, whose son is eaten right off of his yellow raft; and Jeffrey Kramer, who played Deputy Hendricks (and, full disclosure, is this author’s uncle).

A close camaraderie quickly formed among the gathering of "Finaddicts," as the fans call themselves. They compared tattoos, memorabilia, and arcane knowledge, connecting with those they’d encountered on sites like jawsmovie.com and fan forums on Facebook, and attending panels such as "Special Effects, Then and Now" and "How Jaws Changed Our Lives." (Susan Sigel Goldsmith, owner of MV Promotions, which produced Jawfest, estimates that there were 2,000 attendees over the course of the festival [some events were free and attendance wasn’t counted], with 1,500 to 1,800 at the closing screening, fewer than their hoped-for 5,000-person turnout due to poor weather conditions.)

For real, though, I’m writing all of this while wearing a home-made Hey, That’s My Bike t-shirt. It’s a one-man RealityBitesfest in the BlackBook offices today, so I can’t really judge these people, who at least have the camaraderie I’m sorely lacking.

Should Movies Featuring Cigarette Smoking Garner R-Ratings?

Holy smokes! The MPAA is in the headlines again: this time, concerned moviegoers have their sights set on the other kind of fag—cigarettes, that is. Because of the surge in teen smoking, the almighty ratings board is coming under fire for allowing smoking scenes to show up in PG-13 movies.

PG-13 rated movies account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes adolescents are exposed to at the theaters, according to a survey of roughly 5,000 children ages 10-14. These movies apparently hold the same sway as an R-rated movie when linked to the rate of real-world experimentation. Hopefully, this wasn’t the reason why that 2-year old Indonesian toddler started his nasty nicotine habit.

"Adolescents are trying to figure out what they’re all about and what their identity is," Dr. Michael C. Fiore, director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research, in Madison. "They figure this out by watching their parents and their friends, and movie stars are like very high-profile peers. When they see people [smoking a cigarette], they think this might make them look cool. As they become more convinced there’s something in it for them, they become more likely to try it."

Here is a list of movies that have likely caused impressionable hellions to light up—after all, le cancer: c’est chic! 

Clearly, Audrey Hepburn is the original female icon for making smoking look chic—she lights up in a total of eight different scenes, almost setting fire to a woman’s hat in one of them, proving cigarettes are a fire hazard in addition to bad for your health! Not only that, her neighbor and partner in crime Paul is almost never seen without a cancer stick dangling from his lips. And who can forget the immensely imitated photograph of her propping her cigarette holder aloft in lustrous black gloves at a cheeky angle? No one said having Breakfast at Tiffany’s was healthy!
 

The PG-13-rated Gattaca has perhaps the most impressive use of combining liquor and smoke: Vincent (played by Ethan Hawke) describes the planet of Titan to Jerome (Jude Law) by blowing smoke directly into his wineglass, no doubt immediately inspiring an army of wannabe-Hawke tweens to imitate the gesticulation. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take a sip of cigarette-residue infused wine? 
 

In addition to a cig-loving Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), the protagonist in Moonrise Kingdom, a 12-year-old boy named Sam, has a penchant for pipe-smoking and running away, both highly recommended activities for any trend-setting preteen. However, considering director Wes Anderson’s fondness for having his characters puff up in many of his films (ie: Margot’s unfaltering nicotine habit), it’s really not totally shocking. 
 

Typically, when a movie trailer opens to a guy with a cigarette dangling from his mouth in a leather jacket, it means that that guy is awesome. Therefore, imitating that guy must be awesome. Especially because it’s John Travolta. So goes the psyche of any normal teenager from the ’70s and their blossoming cig addiction. No wonder my IQ is so low, my mom was breathing in secondhand smoke from my dad’s Travolta-inspired Camels! The horror!

Ethan Hawke Reflects on ‘Reality Bites’

Reality Bites is one of those seminal movies that every person of a certain age has seen and loves and can quote endlessly.  The flick made Winona Ryder a household name and Ethan Hawke’s Troy Dyer became the definitive Gen X poster boy.  One of this year’s Sundance “rediscovered in the archive” selections, Hawke reflects on what he thinks would change had it been made today.  It will surprise you.

The New York Times asked Hawke if he thought that Winona’s character Lelaina would still end up with the grungy and sexy, though lacking any career potenial, Dyer or the ambitious TV exec played by Ben Stiller.  His answer:

“That movie was probably one of the last moments when the girl makes the decision to go with the poor, self-serious dude. A theme of the movie is how money and corporate thinking was taking over everything.

Today, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell they would end that movie with her and Troy together. The definition of integrity has changed. Now, if a person — or a movie — makes a lot of money, then it’s got integrity.”

Ladies, do you agree?  Is he really saying the paradigm changed or is he calling today’s females gold diggers? Now that you are a little older and maybe a bit wiser,  would you still go for Troy with his band and IQ prerequisites and winters (and likely summers, falls and springs) of discontent or would you choose the character with the stable job and far less angst? Men, feel free to weigh in.