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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Curtains for Colin

The first episode of the Portlandia TV show is now out on the intertubes, and many folks in these parts will no doubt be embedding it on their websites. Willy Week's got it here, and Brandon's got it here.

We've gotten about halfway through it so far, and find it both amusing and depressingly real.

Comments (17)

I love Carrie. Who knew she could act that well? There's such a gentle, expressive glow to her. Here's my old Trib column about her and Sleater-Kinney:

I think I invented a new medical term last week, with the ominous-sounding acronym of CBJL.

That’s short for Crystal Ballroom Jet Lag, a syndrome in which an old rocker who should know better parties like it’s 1899, then spends the next day feeling as if he’s flown across America and back. Was it some new disease? West Linn virus? No, it was a sound thrashing from three women known as Sleater-Kinney.

Lately, the Washington-state-to-Portland transplants have been generating a bigger buzz than Nick Nolte, so I went to see what all the praise was about. One thing was immediately clear: Sleater-Kinney rocks. They were not manufactured out of Mickey Mouse Club members. They were not choreographed bellybuttons who first appeared as kids on “Star Search.” They rocked.

The instrumental lineup is two guitars and drums, with some occasional sonic support from offstage. It took around three seconds to realize that having no bass player is not a problem.

The key element for me was the guitar work of Carrie Brownstein. While most guitarists establish a hand position and then overplay the surrounding notes, she moves her entire hand to a new fret maybe six times in a single phrase, doing so with a lightning precision that I’ve seen from only one other guitar player: Prince.

It’s almost instant - the way a squirrel changes poses. The resulting music is automatically different. If I tried it just on air guitar, there would be a pile of stretched ligaments on the floor with some additional tendons dangling from the ceiling.

The day of the show began when I got up at 5:30 a.m. to write 48 topical jokes for a grateful nation. Even counting my standard two-hour nap in the afternoon, there was no way any band should have been able to keep me revved up way past midnight. Yet there I was after the encore, experiencing another medical condition, known as TFA - Temporarily Fifteen Again.

I had met drummer Janet Weiss before the show, so I waited by the stairs to the dressing room to shake hands with the other two. Corin Tucker, the power vocalist, also is strong on the guitar, but the biggest impression of the night was made by Brownstein. I told her, “That guitar playing was remarkable. Remarkable.” All three were very polite and gracious.

The contrast between the gigantic force I had just witnessed and the diminutive charmers I got to talk with afterward was startling. Who could have guessed the passion and fury residing in these tiny, gentle beasts?

Their music filled me with hope. It was clear that a generation of rock heroes had not died in vain. I stayed awake till 2:30 a.m. just thinking about it, and I was back up that morning at 7. Everywhere I went, I talked about the experience. For a few hours last weekend, this band duped me into thinking I was still young.

Reality returned Saturday afternoon. I began feeling woozy and realized that I no longer had the strength to work the remote. Shortly after that, I was out.

I awoke many hours later, still suffering from CBJL. I was beginning to understand why Sleater-Kinney named one of their albums “Call the Doctor.”

Um OK Bill whatever.

Unfortunately painfully true.
Willie Week and Brandon don't get it because they take themselves so seriously.
And thats what this is all about and makes it so funny.

I started to write about the brilliant restaurant ordering scene but I don't want to spoil it for anybody.
You know I'm struggling with these times if I go back to the Trib columns.

A must see and totally true!

The essence has been captured! LMAO

The show was sweet, if a little flat. I think it's very affectionate towards Portland. I thought they were going to be mean but they're not.

Egad. Stunningly mediocre, like a long, slow, SNL show. And based on--what? A cartoon view of an abstract view of a caricaturized slice of slice of pop culture?

And Sleater-Kinney? Good lord. A screeching exercise in pain. Brownstein is *not* some kind of amazing guitarist, by any stretch of the imagination. To wit:


No, that's not a late night PDX cable show, or open mic night, or hidden camera in a teenager's basement--that's Carrie Brownstein on lead guitar and vocals. It's a train wreck.

the other white meat,
Carrie's not singing in that clip - she's the one on the right.
The other guy who can move around with the fret hand really quickly is the guy from Green Day. As a guitarist, I find him remarkable too.

She's playing lead guitar. And here's another example of those "fast fingers" and voice:


the other white meat:
Thank you. Thank you for being you, for every "Egad" and "To wit". I apologize for saying Carrie had fast fingers and that Sleater-Kinney sings like the Beatles. That was wrong of me to say that and I'm so glad you corrected it. Good work.
And how did you know I've been avoiding a tedious project I should be working on? I'm going back to that now. You've been a big help.

I like Sleater-Kinney, Bill. Here's a couple of uptempo numbers showing what you found appealing in their music.

Jumpers (Live) - Letterman

Entertain (Live) - Henry Rollins Show

Yngwie Malmsteen has "fast fingers" too, but he's deadly dull for me to watch and listen to.

I'm with this guy:

Whoops, I accidentally posted a differing opinion again. Sorry, everybody.

Oh, the bookstore sequence did nothing but bring back flashbacks. The only thing it needed to make the experience truly Portlanderiffic was to have poor Steve waiting at the front counter for another ten minutes until the proprietors even acknowledged his presence. (Reprise this skit, with a third clerk played by Jennifer Saunders as Edina Monsoon, and you'd have In Other Words staffers whining "I didn't think that was funny AT ALL" for years.)

We watched this last night and had a few chuckles here and there, but at the same time it felt a little bit like an episode from The Monkees.

I liked it more than I expected. I've never been quite sure what someone who wasn't from Portland would think about it/give a crud about it.

Anyway, I found in funnier than expected.

"I can't wait for you to meet Aliki."

The Other White Meat: I'm quite a fan of "Modern Girl," that song you trashed. It's a slow ballad. What were you expecting to see? Ballads usually don't contain rockin' guitar solos.

Keep at it though, kiddo. You'll get this whole "troll" thing down if you keep working at it. A bit of advice: check your facts before you break out the bile. That was Mary Timon on lead vocals at the Doug Fir show. Also: that cover was a lousy moment in otherwise fantastic show filled with deft guitar playing.

Oh, I know, I know. Sleater Kinney is no George Thorogood or Kid Rock but, really, what is? It's ok. Turn on some KUFO. All the butt rock will drown out all those painful memories of the scary indie rock ladies you once spent 20 seconds listening to on YouTube.

Can't comment on Sleater Kinney, but Portlandia looks like weak satire based on outrageously generalized stereotypes...just not that funny...and probably funded somewhere along the line by right-wingers.

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