THE FOURTH of JULY WEEKEND STARTS HERE:
...with THE BEACH BOYS! It's Pate Reunion Weekend and time to "Do It Again." Because folks my age will always remember their mammoth July 4th concerts at the Washington Monument -- as with this 1980 take on "Good Vibrations." Their "Lost Concert" from 1964 includes "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Long, Tall Texan," "Little Deuce Coupe," "Surfer Girl," "Surfin' USA," "Shut Down," "In My Room," "Papa Ooh Mow Mow," and "Hawaii." Their take on "Dance, Dance, Dance" from Shindig! later that year is like a slice of Christmas in July. There's also a nifty twofer of "I Get Around" and "'When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)" from their first UK TV appearance on Ready Steady Go! The Andy Williams Show serves up "Help Me, Rhonda," while The Jack Benny Hour produced these quick takes on "Barbara Ann" and "California Girls." There's a primitive video for "Wouldn't It Be Nice" that starts with a cameo from Brian Wilson's dogs (Banana and Louie), who appear at the end of the Pet Sounds LP. And I'll finish with a live version of "God Only Knows" from the 1967 European tour -- one of the last Brian would do for a decade or so.
RAY CHARLES performs "America The Beautiful" like no one else.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: Bruce Springsteen, circa 1978, before it came out on The River.
AMERICAN MUSIC: The Violent Femmes, circa 1992.
DAVE ALVIN: Hey, baby, it's the "4th of July."
JAMES LILEKS: Truth.
THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER: As performed by Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, Smokey Robinson, members of the Grateful Dead, and Umphrey’s McGee.
THE UNITED STATES prepares to celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 4, 1776. As the Wikipedia notes, this is a little arbitrary: New Englanders had been fighting Britain since April 1775; the first motion in the Continental Congress for independence was made on June 8th; and the Congress voted 12-0 for independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 2, 1776. Even so, the publication of the Declaration was momentous . If you're not in DC, the best way to see and learn about the Declaration may be through the Charters of Freedom website. Or you can watch Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, Renee Zelleweger, Kevin Spacey, Wynona Ryder and other Hollywood folk read the Declaration.
Of course, the holiday more broadly celebrates the American Revolutionary War, and the Founders' unlikely victory. People with the highest standard of living and the lowest taxes in the Western World fought a sometimes unpopular war for our freedom. Early on, the Revolutionaries (also known as "Americans" or "Patriots") had the active support of about 40 to 45 percent of the colonial population. By 1779, there were more Americans fighting with the British than with Washington, which is why Washington needed help from the French, the Spanish and freed Blacks. You can separate fact from fiction regarding the sacrifices and fates of the Founders at Snopes. You can hear two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough read from the first chapter of his 1776 via NPR. Or watch a nifty clip on the passage and public reading of the Declaration from the John Adams miniseries.
NOW SHOWING: This long weekend's wide releases are Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is currently scoring 93 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; and Midsommar, which is scoring 82 percent.
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME has most of what made its predecessor, Homecoming, a blast, which is to say it still has the trappings of a teen comedy (including the 80s music) wrapped up in superhero action -- and its backed up by most of the cast returning and adjusting to life after the events of Averngers: Endgame. The movie's biggest flaw is that the tricky part of the plot recalls another movie and made a bit more sense in that movie. Nevertheless, the performances are winning (including Jake Gyllenhaal as Quentin Beck), the European setting is charming and the action is well-staged. The film also uses today's controversies about "fake news" as grist for its mill without getting political about it. There is a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene; both are good, but you definitely do not want to miss that mid-credits scene.
MYSTERIO: Big Spidey Spoilers in this interesting take.
ELVIS PRESLEY: Baz Luhrmann is testing a top group of young actors for his film about the legendary singer and his manager Colonel Tom Parker.
TAYLOR SWIFT: Scott Borchetta tells his side of the story of their label's sale; there are many issues.
DAISY RIDLEY talks revisionist Shakespeare, Star Wars: Episode IX and why she understands the intense online backlash to 2017's The Last Jedi.
THE FLASH: Andy Muschietti, the filmmaker behind the hit Stephen King adaptation It and the upcoming It: Chapter Two, is in talks to direct the film. Ezra Miller remains attached to star, but they're not using his script.
RUSSELL CROWE went a little Russell Crowe in defense of the late Roger Ailes.
COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE has a trailer online for the next season, which includes eddie Murphy and Seth Rogen.
TWIGGY: Another Fourth of July tradition, the water-skiing squirrel. She retired last summer, but it remains a great story. Compelling and rich.
MAN BITES POLICE DOG in Manchester.
COCKROACHES are becoming even harder to kill.
A RETICULATED PYTHON is on the loose in Cambridge.