Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, Terrence Winter, and a whole bunch of other heavy hitters premiered Vinyl on HBO the other night; I haven’t seen it and don’t intend to (Sound-alike pastiche bands! Terrible fake band names! That Scientologist asshole with the curly hair from That 70’s Show!) but Richard Hell, who was actually in the New York music business in ’73 wrote a great review over at Stereogum about the show. If his paragraphs are too long for you (they are), here’s a sample:
You come to the series looking for music and what do you get? Bulky Italian-American peacocks so crazed by craving for coke that one of them tears the rear-view mirror off his luxury car for a surface to snort from; or two of them excitedly bashing in the head of a vulgar ally before wrapping his corpse in a table cloth and driving it in a car trunk to a dump spot; a prolonged extreme close-up of a fizzingly dynamic cigarette lighter flame against darkness; nonstop soundtrack of rock and roll, soul, funk, blues, punk, and disco pop music. It’s all routine Scorsese shtick, but cheaper. In fact nine tenths of the songs aren’t even the original tracks, but studio imitations. And what’s with the cocaine behavior? I get that coke gives these men the feeling of supremacy they also get from using baseball bats on upstarts and getting blowjobs from showgirls, but it’s just wrong to over and over again show them (usually from above) violently throwing their sweaty heads back grimacing in cross-eyed transport the moment they inhale a flake. Cocaine is not like getting a cattle prod up your butt. Everybody knows that. Cocaine is sweet. A warm smile would suffice.
The ratings weren’t great, either, and I don’t know what this means for the Dead show in development over at Amazon. The new content-delivery services (I didn’t like writing that phrase any more than you liked reading it) such as Netflix or Amazon don’t do ratings–they say–and care more for prestige. They want to have the cool restaurant that people write about, rather than the joint that sells more burgers and clown toys than anyone else.
Who can tell the future? Everything changes, and nothing lasts, but I hope they do a good job: it comes down to the writing. I hope they don’t hire someone who wants a job. They should get an obsessive. Someone who is prepared to start and win arguments about shirts that look fake, and that Actor Garcia isn’t holding his guitar the right way.
I’m not talking about trivia. Or knowing the words to the songs. Or how to spell “Kreutzmann” without looking it up. They need someone who Gets It.
Where would you find him or her, though?