Staff Picks: George Carlin, Alex Cameron, and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale’


Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Scroll through for our picks below.

I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die by George Carlin

The great Mr. Carlin had an HBO special bearing the very dark but decidedly #onbrand title I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die scheduled for November 2001. Then 9/11 happened, and even Carlin knew that title wasn’t gonna fly. So he rebranded it Complaints and Grievances, reworked much of the material, and that was that. But after his death in 2008, recordings of his Las Vegas shows on 9/9 and 9/10 were unearthed, and those comprise the bulk of this release – along with a much earlier version of the title track, from June of that year. Also included are a very early home recording and interviews with collaborators, which feel like the padding that they are (why should posthumous comedy recordings be any different than those of pop stars?). In fact, an a la carte mp3 purchase will probably do the trick; I’d recommend tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 10, and even those basically amount to a comedian’s notebook, less for casual admirers than for hardcore comedy and Carlin fans. But the best of those tracks (2 and 7) are a forceful reminder of the power of Carlin’s voice, and the specific kind of truth to power that he spoke (which is too often twisted by lesser imitators into a free pass to say any stupid fuckin’ thing onstage). — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Sandy Pussy — Sandy Pussy

A friend recently put out a call on Facebook for “weird dark psychedelic surf rock,” and the ensuing conversation reminded me of a band who were pretty much the embodiment of that description. Step forward LA’s sadly defunct Sandy Pussy, a band whose name is nobody’s idea of a good time but whose music is another thing entirely — it’s… well, it’s weird dark psychedelic surf rock, basically. Their debut album is like Dick Dale joining Kyuss, which is pretty much exactly as awesome as it sounds — the music has the breezy, reverb-laden melodies that make surf rock instantly recognizable, but they’re married to a whole lot of sludgy distortion and a bottom end that’s more “approaching tsunami” than it is “perfect tube, dude!” Sadly, Sandy Pussy are no longer a functioning band — they’ve evolved into another project called Jellyy, which is still weird psychedelic surf rock, but lacks the dark element that made Sandy Pussy so compelling. — Tom Hawking, Editor-in-Chief

Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale

I’ve been flipping through Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale from Harper, available on October 18. The book’s design is worthy of Del Toro’s fantastical film, with flip-up inserts that feature notes, storyboards, artwork, and other curious things. And, hello lovely embossed cover. You also get behind-the-scenes interviews with major cast and crew. It’s a nice supplement to the Del Toro exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is on my list of things to see next week (and runs through November 27). — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

Alex Cameron

I wasn’t at all surprised by my enjoyment of the Angel Olsen concert last Sunday at Warsaw — the Polish National Home turned rock venue in Greenpoint; My Woman is exquisite, and the concert largely followed suit. The bigger surprise was the rare presence of an indelible — yeah, that’s perhaps the best word for him — opening act, Alex Cameron. Cameron, whose work I’d never heard and morphing face I’d never seen (you can see on the album cover for Jumping the Shark that the young Australian musician sports latex wrinkles, or sometimes pock-marks, or sometimes scars — though since the release of the album, he’s retired the prosthetics that you can also see in his music videos) appeared onstage in the gilded/dilapidated ballroom looking himself pretty gilded and dilapidated. (The Guardian called him a Lynchian cabaret act, and he couldn’t have a better venue for it.) He sported a silver suit and a persona’s life’s worth of failures.

With emphatically weird dance moves rife with creepy eroticism, he began singing over his thin ’80s drum machine instrumentation, accompanied only by a saxophonist named Roy Molloy who refers to himself as “Alex Cameron’s business partner.” Following the concert, I began to get into Jumping the Shark, and its treasure trove of characters trying to sing out their hardships with nothing but Cameron’s echoing baritone and a limited, simplistic vocabulary of pre-fab beats and synths. The track featured above — “The Comeback” — says it all, seeing Cameron voicing the complaints of a washed up variety show host whose show’s been cancelled. Its cartoon archetypes coupled with the deadpan with which those archetypes deliver lyrics lead to hilarious verses like: “Ahmed, my lawyer, he said you can’t do this/Ahmed wears a suit and tie/Come on, Ahmed’s legit/He’s comin’ at you like a paralegal nightmare/I got him stayin’ up at the Ritz/We’re gonna get my show back.” I hope this shtick sticks. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

Recent Investigative Reporting on Trump

My staff pick is the investigative reporting on Trump that has been overshadowed by Brangelina’s breakup and Weinergate, part one million. Like this piece in the Washington Post by David A. Fahrenthold, about the Trump Foundation’s horrible misuse of funds:

Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.

Or this one, by Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, about the super-shady Trump Organization:

A close examination by Newsweek of the Trump Organization, including confidential interviews with business executives and some of its international partners, reveals an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals… If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires.

It’s all juicy, must-read stuff, yet it seems not to make a dent in the conversation. The frustration many people are feeling that nothing that’s uncovered about Trump can harm his image is reflected in the series of rick-roll type tweets that purported to be about Brangelina but actually linked back to this story. — Sarah Seltzer, Deputy Editor