5 Reasons to Live

New York State of Mind

Ken Tucker on the return of the New York Dolls. Plus: EW's editor-at-large shares his love for the poetry of A.R. Ammons and ''Laguna Beach''

BOWERY WOW The triumphant teaming of Johansen (center) and Sylvain (right) with their new crew of Dolls is one of Tucker's Reasons To Live this…
Image credit: New York Dolls: Kristina Sisti
BOWERY WOW The triumphant teaming of Johansen (center) and Sylvain (right) with their new crew of Dolls is one of Tucker's Reasons To Live this week

Ken Tucker on the return of the New York Dolls

1. New York Dolls, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This
(Roadrunner Records)
The first Dolls album since 1974 proves they're not the pussycat kind. Sole survivors David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain growl, strut, and philosophize about evolution as it pertains to mating rituals (''Dance Like a Monkey'''s immortal couplet: ''C'mon shake your hips/ My little creationist''). On the Phil Spector-ish, stomping ballad ''Plenty of Music,'' when Johansen sings, ''I see superfluous beauty everywhere/ Why should I care/ What does it matter to me?'' he's providing sustenance to those of us who know that, for example, the superfluous pleasures of Laguna Beach (see below) don't matter, as irresistible as they may be.

2. The Naked Spur
(Warner Bros. DVD)
James Stewart was never meaner than in director Anthony Mann's ferocious 1953 revenge Western, as a bounty hunter out to capture a murdering Robert Ryan for the reward that'll enable Stewart to regain the ranch stolen from him while he was in the army. Shot against the Colorado Rockies, the entire film — its look, its aura — is infused with the angry bitterness of Stewart's character. Consumer advice: Don't bother buying the new, mediocrity-padded James Stewart Signature Collection that includes Spur (The Cheyenne Social Club? No thanks) — just get the single DVD and witness a side of Stewart that few movies captured.

3. The poetry of A.R. Ammons
It's summertime — put aside those mind-melting beach reads and pick up some poetry. Archie Randolph Ammons (1926-2001), master observer of nature both wild and human, even made it simple for you by publishing The Really Short Poems of A.R. Ammons, which contains just what it says. It's easily read, and a nourishing challenge to fully appreciate. A sample from Ammons, called ''Release'':
After a long
muggy
hanging
day
the raindrops
started so
sparse
the bumblebee flew
between
them home

4. Golden Smog, ''Corvette''
From Another Fine Day (Lost Highway)
A reader of this column nominated this new album a couple of weeks ago, and he or she was right: This supergroup of musicians from Wilco, the Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, and other bands has come up with another fine collection, which peaks with this song written for, but never used in, a car commercial.

5. Laguna Beach
(MTV; season 3 premieres Wednesday, Aug. 16)
No, I haven't seen it in advance, but after the disappointment of The Hills (how could such a kee-ewwwl internship at Teen Vogue prove so dull?), I'm rooting for the third season of MTV's unscripted-yet-super-edited-and-directed experiment in the sociology of pampered dimwits to yield further revelations about the state of cell-phone use, slang, and the dismal failure of the American school system.

What are your 5 reasons to live this week?

Originally posted Aug 11, 2006