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Friday I swung by the Plaza on the way home and got advance tickets for Benjamin Smoke, just in case it sold out. I figured with articles in the AJC, the Loaf, and Electric Degeneration it might sell out. So when we showed up 10 minutes before showtime and the place was half empty I was a little dissappointed. But financial success is no indication of greatness. (Some might argue they are, in practice, opposites and I probably wouldn't disagree.) I picked up the one Smoke CD I didn't have from Coleman, lurking in the lobby with a suitcase full of the rereleased collections, and got a seat. I'll have to get through some sentiment here before I can actually get to the review - it was great to see Benjamin in action again. It's almost two years since he died, and longer since I'd seen him perform. The film itself is fun, quirky, moody and often dark, purposefully matching the subject. Go see it while you can, even if you never saw Benjamin perform. It's an insightful look into life in the New South, the gentrification of small town/neighborhood/community life, and what it's like to be different in a region bent on conformity for all, and segregation for anyone else. The filmmakers, Peter Sillen and Jem Cohen, came in afterward to answer questions but I agree with Benjamin's attitude - a work of art is different for every person so there's no point in hearing the author talk about it. So we sat through a brief behind the scenes Q/A session and headed out the door, looking across to the last place Benjamin lived, passing the typical Ponce nomad asking for change, and headed back to our small neighborhood where 7 new houses have gone up on our street in as many months, shiny new cars parked in front of each one. See for more info.

Just before we did the whirlwind tour of the Gulf states, The Stimulants sent us their newest CD Sunspot Lollypop. It's well produced, with all the grungy sounds coming through crisp and clean. But you'll swear it's a long lost Breeders unreleased compilation album. That's not necessarily a *bad* thing. There's plenty of good stuff on this record. The lead voice is super strong and the fuzzy guitars mix well against it. But I was left yearning for a little something to distinguish it from the flood of this stuff we got 5 years ago. Rumor has it their live show is good so I hope to catch 'em soon. For more info check out and

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