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Friday Buzzkills: Extra-Patriotic Edition

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the social bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws Of Not Tolerating Assholes entitle them, a grudging respect to the opinions of said assholes requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation, so they can't go and blame the loss on something stupid, like rising gas prices or "the Internet."

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That the entertainment industry officially ran out of original concepts right around the time the "straight to DVD sequel" was introduced; that innovators die while toadies and jackals thrive; that mankind is more disposed to suffer than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and crap remakes and sickening behavior evinces a design to reduce them under absolute mediocrity and absence of existential meaning, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such tolerance for crap and write a bitchy blog about it. Either that, or spend a three-day weekend getting so hammered it becomes all, like, whatever. From sea to shining sea, here are your Friday Buzzkills a day early–because this is America, motherfucker!

- Ever since the Boston Tea Party, we've stolen enough things from Britain and appropriated them as our own to feel a certain sense of propriety over Joy Division's Ian Curtis (after all, without him who would our Brooklyn bands shamelessly name-drop?). That's why the news that some goth-y ghouls have made off with the singer's headstone is especially gut-punching, providing more evidence that we as a society have taken a huge wrong turn morally, probably somewhere around the advent of eBay. The memorial stone–inscribed with the words "Love Will Tear Us Apart"–was pried out of the Macclesfield Cemetery where Curtis is buried early Wednesday morning, and while police are "confident that someone locally will have knowledge about who is responsible or where the memorial stone is at present," the area has no CCTV and there are no leads. Speculating on motivation, The Guardian chimed in with, "It remains to be seen whether the gravestone thief sought a movie memento, a poor-taste Cheshire souvenir, or just a morbid piece of living-room furniture." Here's another option: They're yet another "super fan" whose sense of entitlement when it comes to their icons is so far out of whack they don't even recognize how fucking disrespectful they are.

- Also filed under "Is nothing sacred?": As a studio, the famed Capitol Records building may have become as technically obsolete as the stack of unsold records it resembles, but hundreds of artists still flock to the building every year to take advantage of its storied subterranean echo chambers. The trapezoidal rooms, co-designed by electric guitar innovator Les Paul, played host to artists like The Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra back in the day, who came seeking its legendary "pure" reverb sound that simply can't be replicated digitally; today it's mostly used for pumping out awful medley MP3s for American Idol and adding an extra sheen of bombast to cover up the fact that Dido's just not that interesting of a singer. But all that aside, it's an important piece of musical history and a still-useful one, which is why the news that its delicate acoustics are under threat from a new development project–an adjacent condominium and office building with underground garage that promise lots of not-so-delicate vibrations–is particularly distressing. Producer Jon Brion put it rather eloquently when he said, "This is a rarified world, but we already lose too many things culturally. Should we listen to the people who have never recorded music, who say, 'What's the big deal about putting up a parking lot?,' versus the engineers who are the canaries in the coal mine?" Oh, poor paranoid Jon Brion…When has a city ever paved over its history in favor of kowtowing to real estate developers? Such a move would be greedy and shortsighted--and that's not the America we know!

- Speaking of preserving history, the tricky loophole requiring "active use" in U.S. trademark laws has forced English blues bottom-feeders Bad Company to reunite for a one-off show at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel And Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Taking time off from being a poor substitute for Freddie Mercury, lead singer Paul Rodgers explained to Billboard that the motivation for taking the group out of retirement was less about giving the fans one more perfunctory retread of "Feel Like Makin' Love" than making sure nobody else gets to collect their rightfully earned state fair money: "I'm protecting the legacy that we have built…cementing the rights to the trademark Bad Company name for touring," a move that Rodgers felt was necessary after learning that at least one fake Bad Company was planning on bilking your Dad this summer. The illustration of this particular facet of trademark law–under which a band who fails to use their trademark within a five-year period is considered to have abandoned it–brings up an interesting idea: Could somebody maybe form a band called The Smiths and force those fuckers out of retirement? (Also, this might explain why we currently have a Journey fronted by Asian Steve Perry.)

- Although they don't have any claim to trademarks per se, there seems to be a similar motivation behind the stars of Beverly Hills 90210 flocking to the The CW's already-overhyped spin-off: Despite ditching the Beverly Hills from its name in order to "distance" itself from its progenitor, the "update" is becoming so overrun with original cast members clamoring to return to the last culturally relevant thing they did that it barely has room for its all-new batch of "smart bad boys with behavioral issues" and "wannabe socialites with their own YouTube series." We suppose adding Tori Spelling was a no-brainer–other than hawking handmade jewelry on HSN and getting pregnant to force a new season of her horrid reality show, she really doesn't have much to do…and besides, her Daddy made that show for her–and Jennie Garth pretty much sealed her fate after Dancing With The Stars, but for fuck's sake, has life outside the Peach Pit really been so bad that everybody's dying to go back to high school?

Reportedly Ian Ziering is "actively lobbying" for the return of steroid-popping stay-at-home father Steve Sanders and Jason Priestley has "expressed interest" in being an executive producer and director and bringing Brandon back–although fortunately, rekindling that interminable Brandon-Kelly-Dylan love triangle is impossible since Luke Perry is too busy battling mutant snakes and making shitty TV-movie westerns to lower himself to that level (at least until the show proves successful, anyway). However, this week came the biggest indicator that the initial "new spin on an old concept" idea has gone completely off the rails into AfterMASH territory: Shannen Doherty has been hired to reprise both her role as Brenda and her longstanding cold war with Garth, officially turning this "spin-off" into an icky Gossip Girl/Desperate Housewives hybrid that will satisfy neither the original's sentimental thirtysomething fanbase or tweenagers who don't give a shit why the blonde guidance counselor lady is acting so bitchy to the sad brunette with the wonky eye. No wonder Rob Thomas abandoned ship.

- And no, we don't mean that Rob Thomas: The Matchbox 20 frontman may know a thing or two about strangling the imagination out of something until it's limp enough to appeal to a wide audience, but as of yet he hasn't tried his hand at TV writing. That's not to say he might take a whack at it someday; after all, he could probably use the money right about now considering he's being forced to battle the world's most dubious lawsuit. Tort tart Lisa Gelbard claims she suffered a "cervical herniated disc" at a 2005 concert by Thomas at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel And Casino (yes, the same place Bad Company is reuniting; more evidence that it's a place to be avoided at all costs) after a member of his band tossed a drumstick into the audience, which then hit "about her face"–apparently with such force and velocity that it ruptured her spine. Making matters all the more "shut the fuck up already," Gelbard's husband, the about-to-be-forever-disgraced neurosurgeon Dr. Steven Gelbard, is also suing the singer, claiming that as a result of her injury he suffered "the loss of his wife's services, support, consortium, and the care and comfort of her society." Of course, Gelbard obviously knows a thing or two about taking responsibility for one's actions: Not long ago he was convicted of failing to file income tax returns, receiving a hefty $31 thousand fine and three years' probation. But certainly he's not out to recoup his losses by trying to make a fast buck with a trumped-up injury suit. Such a move would be downright un-American!

- Unfortunately for Thomas, the rules are very clear when it comes to rock 'n' roll: The audience can shower you with heckles and even break your fucking face open with beer bottles all it wants, but the second you defend yourself, you can expect to greeted by the full wrath of law enforcement. Gym Class Heroes' singer Travis McCoy learned that lesson the hard way this week, when a St. Louis stop on the Warped Tour brought him face-to-face with a black audience member who called him a "fucking ignorant [working title of Nas' new album]" immediately after the first song. After a bit of verbal sparring, the man punched McCoy in his sprained knee, spurring McCoy to clock him over the head with his microphone, breaking it in the process. Although McCoy immediately apologized, and the band continued playing after the audience member was led away by security, local police arrested McCoy as soon as he finished his set, keeping him in jail overnight. (Perhaps he shouldn't have mitigated the sincerity of his apology by using it as a segue to talk to "all the sexy fucking ladies"?)

- Finally, speaking of people who probably shouldn't be calling other people "ignorant"–and whose head is practically screaming out for someone to bust a microphone over it–we'd be remiss if we didn't send you into your Fourth of July reverie with the news that proud blowhard Rush Limbaugh just inked a deal with Clear Channel to ensure your grandparents stay woefully misinformed until at least the year 2016, collecting close to $400 million in the process. (To put it in laymen's terms, that's approximately $1 for every forwarded email with Barack Obama's face Photoshopped onto Osama Bin Laden's body.) We have nothing to add other than to point out that sometimes freedom of the press sucks.

- What with people like Limbaugh helping to drive nails into the coffin of real journalism one wholly inaccurate "talking point" at a time, the loss of a man like Clay Felker cuts all the deeper. Felker, who died this week at the age of 82, was the innovator behind New York Magazine, a highly influential glossy that combined gossipy comments on society and politics with endless "best of" lists, echoes of which you can see in just about every modern magazine and website–including the very one you're reading. Felker also helped foster the "new journalism" movement by publishing contributors like Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Gloria Steinem, and Nik Cohn. In a telling presage of what was to come, New York was the victim of a hostile takeover in 1977 by Rupert Murdoch, who forced Gelker and co-founder Milton Glaser out–a move that resulted in the entire staff walking out with them in solidarity.

- A familiar face who appeared in hundreds of TV shows, films, and commercials, Canadian-born actor Henry Beckman was often called upon to play "heavies" or roles requiring accents, but most modern audiences will remember him as Detective Briggs on The X-Files. Beckman, who died this week at 86, got an early breakout as Cmdr. Paul Richards in the 1950s Flash Gordon series, launching a long career that included playing Colonel Harridan on McHale's Navy and George Anderson on Peyton Place, as well as roles in The Twilight Zone, My Favorite Martian, Marnie, Perry Mason, The Monkees, Here Come The Brides, Gunsmoke, and David Cronenberg's The Brood. He also played the world's most helpful (and best-dressed) landlord on Sandy Duncan's sitcom Funny Face.

- Mel Galley missed out on being a part of Whitesnake's biggest commercial success when complications from a broken arm forced him to leave the band in 1984, but he was used to being in projects just a tad too early: His 1970s band Trapeze was made up of future members of Judas Priest, Uriah Heep, and Deep Purple. In a statement paying tribute to Galley, who died of cancer this week at age 60, Deep Purple bassist and one-time Black Sabbath frontman Glenn Hughes said, "He alone is responsible for my career as a working musician/singer-songwriter." Despite not being a part of Whitesnake's Tawny Kitaen-driven glory years, Galley did contribute to 1984's Slide It In, which featured the minor hit "Slow & Easy."

- A Moscow-born keyboardist and producer well-known for her collaborations on Chris Cornell's Euphoria Morning and performing with Queens Of The Stone Age, Natasha Shneider had a fruitful career as an in-demand session player, but also found some solo success singing with her 1990s group Eleven, which featured original Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons. Shneider, who died of cancer this week at the age of 51, also dabbled in acting, appearing in small roles on shows like Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice, and playing cosmonaut Irina Yakunina in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. A memorial fund has been set up on her website by her Eleven bandmate and longtime partner Alain Johannes.

Have a super weekend!

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