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December 22, 2005



i saw this episode last thursday-i think tonight's episode is with robert redford and paul newman.


I will preface this by saying that I am an enormous REM dork, and that I pretty much worship Mario as a chef, but my lord was their episode painful to watch. So awkward.

Sadly, you really get a feeling for why REM's last two records (and Around the Sun in particular) were at best so-so. Stipe is clearly completely isolated in celebrity land. The scene of he and Mario taking a private jet from NYC to Toronto to watch U2 play in an enormo dome then watch from backstage, hugging Bono as he walks offstage in a wool-hooded robe like some kind of two-bit boxer, makes it very clear why both of these bands seem to lack the passion they once held in spades. (Though Mario dorkily dancing and taking photos with his cell phone as Michael tried to ignore him and listen to the music was pretty much priceless.)

Worst of all is when Michael's "day off" is spent taking photos with Helena Christensen, followed by he and Mario having a small dinner party with, among others, Rain Phoenix, who talks about her new record, which Michael actually seems to take seriously. This is a very, very long way from the remarkably aritistic community that Stipe, REM and, no doubt, U2 once inhabited. Yes, I recognize that it's difficult to understand the level of fame these people have achieved, but it's very clear they now live isolated in a world of celebrity, which might explain why half of Stipe's songs these days seem to be about someone trying and failing to achieve fame. The celebrity community might resemble and aspire to be an artisitc community, but it ain't the same thing. Not even close.

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