The U.S.-Mexico border isn’t open, but a migrant surge and a mishmash of messages and policies have created another crisis
Culture Notable CDs
Style: A jukebox's worth of The Killer's trademark piano-pounding rock 'n' roll, as buttressed by an all-star supporting cast.
Cautions: A crudity at the end of "Trouble in Mind" ("Probably shouldn't have said that, but it accidentally come out").
Worldview: "Don't mind the gray in your hair. / Just think about all the fun you had puttin' it there."
Overall quality: Endearingly lively, but less focused than 1973's similar The Session.
Style: Rapid-fire rap.
Cautions: Rampant n-words, f-words, s-words, b-words.
Worldview: "Listen, [. . .] you got to have vision. / If you see it, you can be it. / Jesus died for the vision. / The vision is to walk with swag, hold your head, and walk, and brag. / Never let 'em make you mad, representin', keep the cash" ("Our Streetz").
Overall quality: If expletives were quills, these musically engaging hip-hoppers would be porcupines.
The Last Kiss (soundtrack)
Style: Introspective, alternative rock.
Cautions: Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" (casual cursing), Turin Brakes' "Pain Killer" (sexual references).
Worldview: "Our greatest aspiration for The Last Kiss was that it be emotionally honest. The same held true for the music that would underscore the themes . . . : The romantic ideal we set . . . the reality we discover . . ." (the notes).
Overall quality: As consistently enjoyable as the similarly configured Garden State soundtrack.
Style: Stand-up, demographically targeted comedy; fast-food (and fast-sex) division.
Cautions: Rampant profanity and occasional sexually explicit routines.
Worldview: Implicitly, that a good way to survive the accumulated frustrations of which life seems to consist is by relishing their inherently comic nature.
Overall quality: Cook's raunch is so imbedded in his often hilarious and occasionally insightful jokes that it's all but impossible not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
El Mas Chingon
Style: Stand-up ethnic comedy, Latino division.
Cautions: Rampant profanity.
Worldview: That ethnic groups (Latinos, whites, blacks, "Chinos") have inherent, and inherently funny, traits, traits that appear even funnier to other ethnic groups, and that illegal Latino immigration is as desirable as demographic Latino domination is inevitable.
Overall quality: Too bad that for every positive reaction provoked by a punch line there's an equal and opposite reaction provoked by an expletive.
In comedy as in other forms of fiction, crude language serves as an intensifier-as spice, as it were, in a tasty stew. Used by the bucketful, however, it renders the stew unpalatable to anyone whose taste buds haven't already been seared. El Mas Chingon (Oglio) and Retaliation (Comedy Central), the latest albums by George Lopez and Dane Cook, respectively, are cases in point.
Both men are genuinely funny, as quick if not quicker to mock themselves and their own milieus as they are to mock anyone else. (Especially sharp: Lopez's savoring of the irony that, with illegals doing so much labor nowadays, the U.S. government might need them to build the 700-mile wall.) Their abrasiveness, however, scrubs their routines so raw that Lopez and Cook ultimately come off insecure (otherwise why the profanity-as-crutch?) and insulting (otherwise why assume that everyone is so indiscriminating as to love swallowing garbage along with the main course?).