Mystify: Michael Hutchence
What a beautiful man Michael Hutchence was. Not just physically, he had a beautiful soul, too. He wasn’t a voice of a generation – well, maybe he was in Australia – but if you came up in the late ‘80s and listened to pop music, he sang a lot of songs that were in high rotation. INXS was never my favorite group, but they were often one of my 5-10 favorites, and I owned a surprising number of their albums.
I figured this would be a downer since he died by hanging himself. But I was not prepared for how brutal the last half hour would be. I did not know he had a traumatic brain injury he kept secret for the last six years of his life that pretty much turned him into a completely different person, which led to some serious substance abuse issues. I forgot how he got involved with Bob Geldof’s ex-wife, and how one of his final acts before he killed himself was begging Geldof to allow her to bring their kids to Australia to be with Hutchence.
The Last Dance brought about a wave of nostalgia and good feelings, reminding us of the greatness of Michael Jordan and making us appreciate his pathological need to win.
This…man, totally different feeling. I needed a shower after watching it.
If you’ve been with me since the early days of the blog you know Lance was one of the biggest topics I wrote about in its first few years. And I’ve grappled with how I feel about Lance on here several times since his disgraceful admissions.
So I don’t know what I was expecting from this. I’m pretty sure I didn’t expect to feel as dirty as I did. I think I was hoping Lance of 2020 was a man who had made amends and adjustments and while perhaps not worthy of admiration, deserving of some forgiveness.
Nope. He still comes across as an absolute ass, only making statements of regret because he thinks that is what is expected of him and will allow him to get the attention he craves. There is zero sincerity or remorse in anything he says. The one moment he appears to crack a little, in the closing minutes of episode two when he speaks of Jan Ullrich, he turns that moment and makes it about himself.
Interesting and well done from a film-making perspective, but it is the final nail in the coffin of Lance’s public image.
A completely entertaining and fun two hours. I heard lots of people were put off by Daniel Craig’s accent. I loved it. I thought it had just enough ridiculousness in it to make it work.
I have my DVR set to record all the 30 for 30 episodes and this aired the week of the anniversary of Len Bias’ death. I assumed it was new. I got about 20 minutes and kept thinking it felt weird. The tone, the graphics, the music all seemed out-dated. During a commercial I checked and saw that there was a very good explanation for that: it was made in 2009.
A pretty good overview of the potential Len Bias showed, how his life ended, and the tragedies that continued to plague his family. A little too maudlin in tone for my tastes, though.
It is kind of crazy that of all the things that have been in the media over the last month about race relations in this country, this is the piece that moved me the most. It’s not a traditional Chappelle performance. Rather, it is an extended monologue in front of an audience in which Dave shares his thoughts on the George Floyd killing and its aftermath. The moments when he pours his anger out were the most affecting moments I saw in June.
So S watched this one night, which is pretty funny. She told L and I that we should watch it, and we did a few nights later. I think L really enjoyed it. I thought the story was a little uneven, and the visuals were not nearly as dazzling as the Marvel movies are.
But let’s get down to the biggest question about this movie. My generation grew up in Linda Carter as Wonder Woman. And late 1970s Lynda Carter was one of the most dazzlingly beautiful women ever. Tough shoes to fill. Gal Gadot did just fine. I recently heard a term that definitely applies to her: she is galactically hot. Plus she looked like a true badass where Carter was always kind of, I hate to say it, girly in her action scenes. Different times.
B for the movie, A+++++ for everything about Gadot
About a month ago I read Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing, which was excellent. Around the same time I was encouraged to read it by one friend, another friend recommended the Wind of Change podcast. It sounded interesting so I dropped it into my queue but kept putting it off. Until I realized that the podcast was hosted by Patrick Radden Keefe. I quickly moved it up the queue, slowly caught up, and completed it last week just after the final episode dropped.
It was also excellent.
The pod was built upon a story a friend of Keefe’s told him several years ago. This friend had contacts in the CIA and claimed a former CIA agent had told him that the song “Wind of Change,” by the German band The Scorpions, was written by the CIA in an effort to destabilize the Soviet Union and help democracy spread after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
This story sounded insane to Keefe, but he was intrigued and spent several years investigating. Over the podcast’s eight episodes, Keefe explores all angles of the story. The origins of the rumor. How the CIA has used pop culture to influence foreign populations over the years. How the CIA responds to requests for information. What it was like to be a rock musician in the final days of the USSR. A notorious late ‘80s Moscow concert performed by western bands. The infamous rock manager Doc McGhee. And, finally, Keefe sits down with Klaus Meine, lead singer of the Scorpions and writer of “Wind of Change,” to discuss the rumors and see how he would respond.
The story is really well done all around. Even if you don’t like late 80s hair metal, I bet you’ll enjoy this podcast.
I’ll leave the big one for last. Over most of June I watched all three seasons of Ozark. I had never watched it before, despite having many friends tell me it was good. What always made me hold back were the reviews I had read which, while generally positive, almost always noted that Ozark fell short of matching a very similar show, Breaking Bad. I tried to put those critiques out of my head, but it was tough not to go back to them.
That’s because there are so many clear parallels between the shows. If you break things down you can argue that the shows are actually quite different, but from a 40,000 foot level, they do follow similar arcs and have similar elements. And while I really enjoyed Ozark, I agree with those critics who said for all its quality, it is definitely weaker than Breaking Bad.
What also jumped out to me, though, was how there are many parallels between Ozark and my personal favorite of recent prestige TV shows: The Americans. Many critics suggested that The Americans wasn’t really about espionage and global politics, but rather about marriage and how couples communicate, grow, and deal with the changes that life throws at them when the lust wear off. And marriage – and relationships in general – is certainly a huge part of Ozark. As with the common elements with Breaking Bad, for all that Ozark does correctly when it comes to relationships, I kept feeling like it was either following ground that The Americans had cut, or tackling similar themes not quite as well as that show did.
I think some of this comes down to there are no genuinely likable characters in Ozark. Everyone is deeply flawed and possibly evil. Hell, even the Byrde kids are loaded with issues. They are all compelling as hell, and I was always deeply interested to see how each conflict would resolve itself. But I’m never really rooting for anyone to win/survive. Both Breaking Bad and The Americans offered you characters to pull for. Sometimes those characters had huge issues that made it tough to love them, but there will still those glimmers that had you wanting them to get through their troubles.
I kind of want everyone to die in the last season of Ozark.
I realize it may be an unfair comparison, but for me it just doesn’t match up to either Breaking Bad or The Americans. It’s still a very good show, just not a legendary one.