My Christmas Wish List
Tis the season for giving again and with that in mind here is my second annual Christmas wish list. If I can't have peace on earth, then I'll just have to live with these.
Ignored by the Golden Globes but loved by the critics and held in high regard on the streets, HBO's The Wire is easily the best show on TV. One "City Beat" reader advises: "Season four was so good it was uncomfortable to watch at times; the acting and writing was too real."
Seasons one through three are available everywhere on DVD. The series follows the inside story of Baltimore's drug trade from the perspectives of dealers, junkies and the police. Though shot in "B-More," the police stories, the politics and the thug culture could just as well be Atlantic City. I passed on The Wire for years because I felt there was no need to paint black people as drug dealers -- yet again -- in the media. The Wire, however, is crammed with talent from the direction to the scripts to the acting. The DVD collections also include audio commentary by cast members and screenwriters. Now the trick is to get a show on TV written this well about black doctors or newspaper columnists.
To call SNL a groundbreaking show is still underrating its value. As a child of the 1970s and '80s (and with due respect to Eddie Murphy and New Jersey's Joe Piscopo) I will always regard the original cast as the best. I almost fell to my knees and thanked God for hearing my prayers as I saw this collection on the shelves. This box set comes with all 22 episodes of the great sketch comedy of Chevy Chase, the late Gilda Radner, the late John Belushi and House of Blues founder Dan Aykroyd. Despite my best efforts I know I'm going to go right to the episode that was hosted by Richard Pryor with musical guest Gil Scott-Heron. These episodes contain some of television's most creative comedy ideas -- from a shark that attacks disguised as a pizza man to the "Weekend Update" news reports. "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead," but Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season is definitely "a top story tonight."
The Borgata just seems dedicated to good comedy. In 2006 I saw Charlie Murphy and friends and I still have flashbacks and laugh hysterically. I also saw Chris Tucker in a very rare show and he was great, too. I missed Dave Chappelle, but I am already hoping to get tickets to see Oscar winner Jaime Foxx and Robin Williams who will both be headlining at the Borgata in January.
Jazz music is a living, breathing art form and Armstrong may be jazz's most enduring ambassador. This CD/DVD set celebrates the legend's music as he makes the American songbook all his own with his signature voice and his soulful horn. The DVD includes some of his "swinging-est" concerts. For anyone who really enjoys American music, treat yourself (or your favorite AC Weekly columnist) to this collection that covers everything Louis Armstrong.
This is a wish that actually is coming true even as I write this. Dayton Brown and the other current ACPD recruits scheduled to graduate from the academy in January are already getting to know the neighborhood where I grew up. On Saturday, Dec. 16, 19 recruits in uniform provided over 60 toys for Atlantic City children. These ladies and gentlemen in uniform shopped on their time and spent their own money to "help make the season bright." With more people like them, "peace on earth" may not seem so far fetched.
Two essential hip-hop films are now available in one great collection. These videos take me back to when hip-hop was fun -- a whole lot of fun. Scratch highlights the origins of the hip-hop DJ and also captures rare moments with some of the best. The second film, Freestyle, gives hip-hop MCs the star treatment. The set is worth the price just for the rare clips of Notorious B.I.G and Tupac together.
Also currently out on DVD are The Odd Couple: The Complete First Season (that Tony Randall cracks me up), Start Trek: The Animated Series, and The Muppet Show. All of which take me back to a time before quality TV was: Find some low life people and stick a camera in their face for the promise of a bag of money." Each of these series represented new frontiers, great writing, creative thinking and one-of-a-kind performances. Most importantly, both children and adults can enjoy them together.
Raymond Tyler is a freelance writer who has written about varied subjects for several of the country's leading urban magazines.
Motion pictures can share the same title but offer completely different stories. A case in point is Atlantic City — two films with little in common beyond their names. The more recent Atlantic City, which came out in 1981 and was directed by Louis Malle, depicts the resort in the early years of legalized gambling. Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon lead a strong cast in this gritty drama filmed on location.
Songs in the Key of My Life
‘The Music Beat’ Moves In
Verse For Verse, Part Three
Verse for Verse, Part One.
Atlantic City Shout Outs
Tribute to Playwright August Wilson
Back To School