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Q&A With Nick Spitzer, Professor Of American Boogie & Host Of NPR’s American Routes

Friday, August 28th, 2015


Illustration by ALEX FINE

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally published back in 2009. We are re-running it today to mark the 10th anniversary of The Great Flood Of New Orleans. Enjoy.

meAVATAR2_1.jpgBY JONATHAN VALANIA Nick Spitzer is a folkorist, ethnographer, professor of American Studies at Tulane University and host of the altogether wonderful American Routes,  a heady Creole gumbo of blues, folk, soul, rock and Cajun stylings, which can be heard locally on WHYY from 6-8 PM on Sundays. Each week Nick scours the highways and the byways, the juke joints and roadhouses, the coffeehouses and corner bars, of these United States to map the crazy quilt patchwork of regional flavors, customs and musics to, in effect, create an audio flowchart that tells us where we were and how we got here. Think of him as a doctor pressing a stethoscope to the nation’s breadbasket to measure the heart beat of the American dream boogie, and every week he asks you to take a listen and give a second opinion. Spitzer currently resides in New Orleans, but he has local connections: he studied anthropology at Penn in the late 60s and DJed at WMMR in the wild and wooly dawn of FM in the early 70s. We talked about all of this, as well as the evolution of the show, his career arc as an Amerian roots explorer and life in the Big Easy post-Katrina. (His full bio can be viewed HERE)

PHAWKER: What brought you to Penn back in the late 60s?

NICK SPITZER: My father wanted me to go to Columbia until he saw it burning down in 1968.  Penn wasn’t burning yet–though it did soon after–and my mother wanted me to go to Yale, but I thought that was too close and I was fed up with WASPY Connecticut and dour Yalies.  I applied to Penn because I was interested in economics. I came to Philly and I was just very impressed with the campus, the scene, Philadelphia. My parents wanted me to be in the Wharton school, but by the time I arrived I was no longer doing everything they thought I ought to be doing.   After I spent half a year at the Wharton school I was looking to transfer into anthropology, nickpenndays3_1.jpgwhich was a rather big change in terms of what they all thought I’d be doing. It was good because Penn has a really great Anthropology department and had a lot of programs related to American studies and folklore–things that were important to me… to be they don’t really do them now.

After I had been at Penn for a semester I discovered WXPN, which at the time was a student-run radio station, and I think had a tremendous legacy as that.  The record collection at WXPN became as important to me as the world culture archives in the anthropology department.  I also became a pretty dedicated local culture person. I mean I didn’t just stay on campus: I went to the Italian market–which wasn’t too cool if you had long hair–and South Street, which as Orlon’s song goes was where “All the hippies meet.” It was still a struggling African-American street scene where you could hear people singing on the sidewalks, go to Harry’s Occult Shop, hear some music in the little jazz clubs.  I just got more involved in Philly in general.  By the time I graduated I had done fieldwork around Philly—you know they don’t give you a job as an anthropologist with a BA in anthropology—but I had worked at XPN and my girlfriend at the time, Carol Miller, was on MMR and I knew Michael Tearson pretty well because he had been on MMR and a student at Penn. I went down to MMR to give my tape, and after splitting Philly somewhat dejectedly—like oh god, I’ve been living in Philly my whole new-consciousness life, what am I gonna do, the draft board is coming after me—and the MMR station program director called me up and said we want you to come down here and host the morning show as an audition. So I came down and did it and I also was their production director for a while, and that got me involved in Philly several more years after college. (I also managed to not get drafted…but that’s another story)  So Penn, XPN and MMR had kind of cemented my relationship to the city.  I’ve come back a lot for everything from Penn reunions to academic conferences to radio events. So I stay in touch and I really like Philly—it’s one of my favorite cities.

As a folklorist or an ethnographer is there something whenever you come back to Philly you sort of do as a sort of ritual, like a restaurant you go to, a neighborhood you visit?

I go down to the steak places. Pat’s is what I always started with back then so I still go back to Pat’s.  I really dig just going around South Philly and seeing all the mom and pop restaurants and shops; and I’ve nickpenndays2_1.jpgalways loved the window décor in south Philly, all the home altars and the family displays.  I like going to the Penn campus. There’s something fascinating about what students are like today and what students were like then… I try not to be a crusty old alumnus, but XPN is not what it was when I was there; it’s much more of a commercial format with few students really involved except as worker bees. Still, I have a lot of friends around Philly from those days.  Heath Allen plays piano and composes, a friend from college.  Last time I was there I went down to Bob and Barbara’s. They had a really great old-school organ trio [the late Nate Wiley & The Crowd Pleasers], which reminded me of some the little black jazz clubs in the 70s.  Clubs I used to go to, like the Aqua Lounge and Grendel’s Lair and the Bijou.  I used to go to a club called Just Jazz downtown; I saw Earl Hines there, and McCoy Tyner played The Aqua Lounge, and all the old Coltrane band people. I look for these things. I’ve got a lot of friends who take me places.  I have to say when I was just in Philly the last time, I was at this event at Penn that the urban studies people put together and sat with Mayor Nutter at dinner.  I found out he used to be a disco DJ when he was in college, so we had a good time talking abut discoing and DJ-ing. I always find something; Philly is a city of deep and wide vernacular culture, and I think it is a city that a lot of Americans still forget exists. They think of it historically as far as the Continental Congress and Ben Franklin and all colonial era landscape, but they forget this is a major East Coast city filled with fascinating neighborhoods… and the Third World is there, but so is sort of the Old World and old Philly.  It’s much more intimate to me than New York and much more warm and friendly than Washington. I really like Philly. I also like Baltimore, but I know Philly better, so when I come back I’m always exploring and learning what’s happening now and it’s a pleasure.


YO LA TENGO: Friday On My Mind

Friday, August 28th, 2015

CHRISTGAU: Right, it’s been a quarter of a century, but how they’ve changed since Fakebook. There’s the bassist around whom Georgia and Ira cohered. There’s Georgia’s increasingly confident calm meshing with Ira’s increasingly thoughtful quiet. There’s the fragile, enduring lyricism that’s been their musical heart since “Autumn Sweater,” and the uneasy, enduring domesticity that goes with it. Ira took the lead on Fakebook’s covers, which tended toward a perky cheek now gone. But amazing as ever on this second covers album is his ear for the obscure ditty. MORE

RELATED: Kurt Wagner’s YLT Bio After The Jump



TRAILER: The Rise And Fall Of Tower Records

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Established in 1960, Tower Records was once a retail powerhouse with two hundred stores, in thirty countries, on five continents. From humble beginnings in a small-town drugstore, Tower Records eventually became the heart and soul of the music world, and a powerful force in the music industry. In 1999, Tower Records made $1 billion. In 2006, the company filed for bankruptcy. What went wrong? Everyone thinks they know what killed Tower Records: The Internet. But thats not the story. All Things Must Pass is a feature documentary film examining this iconic companys explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder, Russ Solomon.

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RAW FEED: Frank Rizzo Vs. The Fourth Estate

Friday, August 28th, 2015

1980 confrontation between former mayor of Philadelphia Frank Rizzo and a news crew from KYW in an unmarked van staking out his home in Chestnut Hill with cameras rolling to find out if Rizzo was misusing his taxpayer-funded police security detail to perform mundane chores like walking his dog and watering his lawn. Though he was, by this point, neither mayor nor police commissioner, he orders his police detail around like a capo barking out orders to a goon squad. After calling KYW crew members crumbs, creeps, cowards, yellow, sneaks, lushes, crumb bums and other hard-boiled lingo straight out of a Bazooka Joe comic, Rizzo threatens to personally kick the shit out of the entire news crew. Rizzo’s security detail was discontinued shortly after this footage aired on the evening news. This video is a brief glimpse into the way Rizzo ran the Philadelphia police department from 1967 to 1971 and the city from 1972 to 1980 — like Mussolini.

RELATED: AP News Story About The Confrontation

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COMMENTARY: The Mayor Of Asshole City

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

Trump Freak 2


Theodore-RooseveltBY WILLIAM C. HENRY On the contrary, Donny Boy, it’s not the undocumented who “have to go,” it’s moronicsilver-spoonedmisogynisticuber-panderingracistmegalomaniacs such as yourself. And, coincidentally, given the fact that some 25% of the Republican “base” (the definitive term? you betcha) appear to be in lock-step with your imbecilicly simplistic — not to mention, ungodly immoral — solution to such an intractably complex problem as out-of-control illegal immigration, I’m wondering if you could have possibly, maybe inadvertently, misidentified the “who” it is that really “have to go”? Just speculating.

“I’ll deport them all. They have to go. Period.” Has a certain “ring” to it, doesn’t it, Don? Sorta like steeple bells, right? You know, aside from the obvious bigotry embedded in those words, what should really send chills up the reader’s spine is their complete and utter dumbness. These are words delivered by a man who believes himself in possession of sufficient character and intellect to be allowed to become the most powerful man on earth. Really? Beam me up, Scotty. Hell, ANY individual with even a molecule of grey matter can tell you that we HAVE TO do something about our illegal immigration problem. What takes real courage and at least a modicum of cranial content is to tell you the TRUTH about what can and, more importantly, CAN’T be done about it! Unfortunately, all you get with The Donald is nitwittedness, pandering and prevarication.

Let’s start with who is going to pay the unimaginable costs of removing some 11 to 12 million illegals — incidentally, your fairy tale estimate of some 30 million illegals has been universally poo pooed — from the contiguous 48? Are you going to personally cover those costs, Donny? Have you really got some $400 to $600 BILLION in loose change laying around? because I know damn well that the U.S. Treasury doesn’t! So precisely where the hell is it going to come from? Raising taxes on the rich? Just kidding.

Lou Reed And John Cale, Twin Architects Of The Velvet Underground, Jammed Together For The First Time At A High School In The Lehigh Valley

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

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According to Transformer, Victor Bockris’ exceptional Lou Reed bio, the first time Lou and John Cale played together was in 1965 at a gig at a high school in…wait for it, the Lehigh Valley.* After graduating Syracuse, Lou got himself hired as a house composer at Long Island’s Pickwick Records, a low budget record label specializing in cheap knock-offs of pop culture originals. High on methedrine, he wrote “The Ostrich” — think “Hang On Sloopy” covered by The Cramps — to cash in on the Do The…dance craze, as was the style of the day. The single was released in late 1964 under the name The Primitives, a non-existent group invented by Pickwick to cash in on the band-of-dudes-with-pudding-bowl-haircuts-wearing-black-turtlenecks-and-Beatle-boots band craze, as was the style of the day. TransformerPickwick booked tour dates for The Primitives, fronted by Lou and a live band thrown together by Pickwick, that included Cale, noted minimalist Tony Conrad and drummer Angus MacLise, all of whom played together in La Monte Young’s Dream Syndicate. They were hired by a Pickwick exec at an Upper West Side party because ‘they looked like a band.’ Without bothering to rehearse, The Primitives performed ”The Ostrich,” cue screaming teenage girls and the ersatz hysteria of phony Beatlemania. When it was over, the DJ hollered into the mic “These guys have got something, sure hope it isn’t catching!” “The Ostrich” never became a hit — it’s a hot mess, truth be told — and The Primitives didn’t last more than a month or two. But the budding friendship and steadily intensifying creative partnership of Reed and Cale persisted and flowered into The Velvet Underground, taking their name from a smutty S&M novel that Tony Conrad found laying in the gutter in Greenwich Village. 1965. I missed the birth of the Velvet Underground in my own back yard by one year. – JONATHAN VALANIA

*The significance of this fact is only apparent if you know that the author was born in the Lehigh Valley in 1966.

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NPR 4 THE DEF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Adam Driver




A year after Sept. 11, actor Adam Driver joined the Marine Corps. He was working odd jobs, selling vacuum cleaners and paying rent to live in his parents’ house — and he says, like many other Americans, he felt a sense of patriotism and he wanted retribution. “I wanted to ‘test my manhood’ and serve my country and just get even and … get away from home and everything I didn’t like about it,” Driver tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “In retrospect, it was actually pretty great.” After suffering from a mountain biking injury, Driver, who now stars in the film comedy While We’re Young, had to go on limited duty and decided to pursue acting. Now that his movie career is taking off, Driver says he sees similarities between the military and acting: Each person is part of a group trying to accomplish a mission that’s greater than themselves. “The discipline, the self-maintenance, the comradery — they’re so similar,” Driver says. “I don’t view acting as such a radical departure from the military.” Driver is best known for his role as Hannah’s boyfriend on the HBO series Girls. Driver has significant roles in the next Star Wars film and Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming film Silence. In While We’re Young, he plays one half of a young couple that befriends a middle-aged husband and wife, played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. Driver says that whenever he acts, he’s hard on himself. “I have a tendency to … drive myself and the other people around me crazy with the things I want to change. Everything in me wants to try to make it better and I feel like it’s just not a healthy thing.” But he’s learning to “surrender as much control as possible.” MORE

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FIGHTIN: Larry Bowa Begs To Differ

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

…like your grandfather on meth.

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: Jonathan Goldstein Pulls The Plug On WireTap After 11 Years Of Wry Profundity

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015



This is tragic, just tragic.

JONATHAN GOLDSTEIN: This is a hard, sad thing to announce, but WireTap is coming to an end. The reasons for this are many, but the simplest way to put it is that 11 years is a long time to do something and it felt like time to try something new. The show has run longer than Seinfeld and All in the Family. It’s run longer than I, or anyone, could have ever imagined. It started from a simple desire to share the funny, smart people in my life with all of you. I wanted to create a place where we could hang out together and like-minded people could join us. I wanted to make something that felt different than everything else I was hearing on the radio, something that felt funny and real, that didn’t shy away from the big questions (“why are we here?”), but still had room for the smaller questions (“why does this pork pie hat make my ass look fat?”). I wanted to make something that was weird and complicated in the way I knew life to be.

It’s funny that something with such big ambitions started off with such a poor pitch. I just spent the past hour trying to find my initial email to the CBC. It was in an old Yahoo WireTapaccount I hardly use anymore and was dated December, 2003. This was the crux of it: “My idea is basically a show that would involve telephone conversations — natural, conversational — some amount of writing.” Still amazes me that the CBC gave me the chance. I never stopped feeling grateful to get to be on the radio each week and never stopped being nervous about it. Each episode was fuelled by a wish to connect with you. […] P.S. Since our broadcast schedule is slightly out of sync south of the border, American listeners, you’ll still be able to hear shows until June 2016 via PRI. It’ll be a sendoff season featuring the best episodes from the past 11 years as well as episodes never before heard in the States. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Jonathan Goldstein is the creator and host of public radio’s Wiretap, which The (Montreal) Gazette aptly described as “something between borscht-belt comedy and Franz Kafka,” heard locally on Thursday nights at 9 pm on 90.9 FM WHYY. Goldstein is sort of the Woody Allen of the Airwaves — if Woody Allen was an aging Canadian Gen Xer with a punk pedigree and sociopathic-yet-loveable friends. Either way, he’s hilarious and Wiretap is a gas, gas, gas. DISCUSSED: Lenny Bruce, Ira Glass, Howard, Gregor, his mom, my mom, David Rakoff, Fred Flintstone, Philip Roth, Barney Rubble, his mother’s vagina and, of course, Dino. MORE

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Werner Herzog’s 24 Rules For Making Great Cinema

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Werner Herzog The Collection


  1. Always take the initiative.
  2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
  3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
  4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
  5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
  6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
  7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
  8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
  9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
  10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
  11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
  12. Take your fate into your own hands.
  13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
  14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
  15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
  16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
  17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
  18. Develop your own voice.
  19. Day one is the point of no return.
  20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
  21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
  22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
  23. Take revenge if need be.
  24. Get used to the bear behind you.MORE

RELATED: Required reading: Virgil’s “Georgics”, Ernest Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”, and Baker’s “The Peregrine” (New York Review Books Edition published by HarperCollins). Suggested reading: The Warren Commission Report, “The Poetic Edda”, translated by Lee M. Hollander (in particular The Prophecy of the Seeress), Bernal Diaz del Castillo “True History of the Conquest of New Spain”. MORE

RELATED: Required film viewing list: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948, dir. John Huston), Viva Zapata (1952, dir. Elia Kazan), The Battle of Algiers (1966, dir. Gillo Pontecorvo), the Apu trilogy (1955-1959, dir. Satyajit Ray), and, if available, “Where is the Friend’s Home?” (1987, dir. Abbas Kiarostami). MORE

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CINEMA: Tarantino On Tarantino

Monday, August 24th, 2015



NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Speaking of genre, what is it about the Western for you? There aren’t many being made right now.

QUENTIN TARANTINO: There are a few coming out. Antoine Fuqua is doing Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington, so that’s one. Django did so well I’m surprised that there’s not even more.

One thing that’s always been true is that there’s no real film genre that better reflects the values and the problems of a given decade than the Westerns made during that specific decade. The Westerns of the ’50s reflected Eisenhower America better than any other films of the day. The Westerns of the ’30s reflected the ’30s ideal. And actually, the Westerns of the ’40s did, too, because there was a whole strain of almost noirish Westerns that, all of a sudden, had dark themes. The ’70s Westerns were pretty much anti-myth Westerns — Watergate Westerns. Everything was about the anti-heroes, everything had a hateful_eight_ver2_xxlghippie mentality or a nihilistic mentality. Movies came out about Jesse James and the Minnesota raid, where Jesse James is a homicidal maniac. In Dirty Little Billy, Billy the Kid is portrayed as a cute little punk killer. Wyatt Earp is shown for who he is in the movie Doc, by Frank Perry. In the ’70s, it was about ripping the scabs off and showing who these people really were. Consequently, the big Western that came out in the ’80s was Silverado, which was trying to be rah-rah again — that was very much a Reagan Western.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: So what is Hateful Eight saying about the 2010s?

QUENTIN TARANTINO: I’m not trying to make Hateful Eight contemporary in any way, shape, or form. I’m just trying to tell my story. It gets to be a little too much when you try to do that, when you try to make a hippie Western or try to make a counterculture Western.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Hateful Eight uses the Civil War as a backdrop, sort of like how The Good, the Bad and the Ugly does.

QUENTIN TARANTINO: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly doesn’t get into the racial conflicts of the Civil War; it’s just a thing that’s happening. My movie is about the country being torn apart by it, and the racial aftermath, six, seven, eight, ten years later.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: That’s going to make this movie feel contemporary. Everybody’s talking about race right now.

QUENTIN TARANTINO: I know. I’m very excited by that.


QUENTIN TARANTINO: Finally, the issue of white supremacy is being talked about and dealt with. And it’s what the movie’s about.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: How did what’s happening in Baltimore and Ferguson find its way into The Hateful Eight?

QUENTIN TARANTINO: It was already in the script. It was already in the footage we shot. It just happens to be timely right now. We’re not trying to make it timely. It is timely. I love the fact that people are talking and dealing with the institutional racism that has existed in this country and been ignored. I feel like it’s another ’60s moment, where the people themselves had to expose how ugly they were before things could change. I’m hopeful that that’s happening now. MORE

In Select Theaters on Christmas Day & Everywhere On January 8th, 2016

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Monday, August 24th, 2015

John Oliver’s show last night out-swaggered Mick Jagger in a rooster strut through of the “progress” made with gay marriage. The SCOTUS decision was a milestone and I will not diminish it, but we will have a long way to go. In a country where 26 million Facebook users put a rainbow filter over their profile picture (passive activism, but I’ll take it), 31 states permit employers to fire employees for being gay, landlords to evict tenants for being gay and businesses to refuse service. To add the cherry on top, 69% of people in America have no idea it’s legal to treat people like this. “[Same sex couples] can be married on Saturday, post photos of their wedding on Sunday and get fired from their job or thrown out of their apartment on Monday just because of who they are,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) reminded us when the marriage equality decision came down not even two months ago. The biggest problem with all of this lies with Obama, Congress and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Since gay marriage became legal, beefing up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been catching on like wildfire in an overwhelming number of the 21 states that have them. It’s a not so subtle, big and fat middle finger to the Supreme Court. The real knife in the back of human rights is the sheer fact that after Obama and his administration leave the office, those who come next can simply do away with the protection the LGBT needs from discrimination. The biggest problem with all of this lies with Obama, Congress and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Since gay marriage became legal, beefing up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been catching on like wildfire in an overwhelming number of the 21 states that have them. It’s a not so subtle, big and fat middle finger to the Supreme Court. The real knife in the back of human rights is the sheer fact that after Obama and his administration leave the office, those who come next can simply do away with the protection the LGBT needs from discrimination. From what we saw at the Republican debate earlier this month, it seems very likely that the EEOC’s decision that the Civil Rights Act applies to the LGBT Community and Obama’s ability to extend protection of federal LGBT contractors would disappear if a Republican takes the office. Not to mention no one can promise that a Democrat won’t follow suit. Any attempts at eliminating discrimination towards the LGBT community in areas of employment, housing or patronizing a business could disappear in the space of one presidential election. And in case you haven’t heard, another one’s bearing down on us. – MEGAN MATUZAK


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CINEMA: Femme Fatale

Friday, August 21st, 2015


MISTRESS AMERICA (2015, directed by Noah Baumbach, 84 minutes, U.S.)

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Director Noah Baumbach is back with his second release of 2015, showcasing the dare-I-say zany charm of his writing and romantic partner Greta Gerwig in their latest joint, Mistress America. This bittersweet comedy comes off as a continuation of their celebrated collaboration from 2012, the effervescent Frances Ha, although in their latest tale Baumbach and Gerwig seem to take her character to task for being the sort a ditsy flake with which today’s New York City will no longer abide.

Where Frances Ha showed us a gorgeous monochrome NYC through the eyes of its impetuous heroine, Mistress America shows us Gerwig’s Brooke through the eyes of her future stepsister Tracy (Lola Kirke, younger sister of Girls‘ Jemima Kirke). Tracy is Barnard College student fresh to the city and a decade-plus younger than Brooke, who Tracy first spots grandly descending a long flight of stairs. Tracy is in college hoping to become a writer and if she is overwhelmed by meeting Brooke and experiencing her constant stream of brainstorming and philosophizing, Tracy is just as glad to sit back and study this rare creature with a writer’s eye.

Initially, Brooke is a blast to be around. Full of wide-ranging enthusiasms, Brooke shows Tracy the possibilities of the city: she jumps on stage at rock shows, takes Tracy to crowded house parties and allows her funky Times Square apartment to be Tracy’s home-away-from-home. The more Tracy studies Brooke the more cracks in her charm appear, ultimately taking us to the place where the life of the party is revealed as the party’s biggest narcissist. Brooke dramatic sensibility demands an audience and Tracy and her young college friends appear to fill the void as well as anybody.

Gerwig plays the same sort of adorable flake on which she’s built her comic persona and the film is filled with so many joke lines you may not immediately notice that unlike her title character in Frances Ha, Brooke is pretty much friendless. Her out-of-town boyfriend (“He’s one of those people that I hate, except that I’m in love with him”) never shows up and when we do finally meet Brooke’s old friends (in a scenario that seems a little forced, much like Baumbach’s entire last film, the Ben Stiller vehicle, While We’re Young) they are leery of being sucked back into her vortex. Brooke is the most beautiful and lively character in the film, but as she begins to goofily clarify her hazy business schemes, Baumbach pushes her to the point where the viewer also begins to wonder if we are on Brooke’s side.

Not quite as effortless as his best work, Baumbach again sails quite far on the talents of his co-writer and star. Gerwig remains one of the most gifted comic actors of her generation, a big-boned over-sharing force of nature, forever incapable of delivering on her good intentions. By the end of Mistress America (are they really reaching for an national analogy?), we learn that beneath her stream of endless chatter lies an ocean of desperate sadness. Coming in at a fleet and breezy 87 minutes and stuffed silly with jokes and gags, some people probably won’t even notice the tragedy that seems ready to roust just after the movie ends.

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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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