The Vegas Sessions 2017


A proper weekend trip to Vegas deserves a proper playlist.

I'll be heading to Sin City in about 24 hours, and I've thrown together a few tunes to provide a soundtrack for the hedonistic activities that will inevitably unfold over three nights.

Netflix Doesn't Want Us to Leave Our Couches


Netflix, the streaming giant that's on the verge of owning all of our souls, has apparently remade Norman Lear's seminal 70s sitcom One Day at a Time -- this time with a Cuban-American, Los Angeles twist. And the trailer (along with the fantastic new theme song by Gloria Estefan) is promising a good time to be had by all. (Vulture and The Los Angeles Times are already giving it rave reviews.)


Then there's Santa Clarita Diet, the Drew Barrymore-Timothy Olyphant dark comedy that MAY be about cannibalism. Luckily for me, I had the pleasure of watching the pilot and working on the fun promotional campaign (below) -- so I know what's up. So...start binging on February 3.


@TheFirstEcho

#TBT: Why 1997 Was My Favorite Year


WARNING: Major nostalgia ahead.

As unfathomable as it is to think that 1997 is now twenty (20!!) years ago, I can't help but travel back to a time when I didn't have to worry about rent checks, hereditary health issues, or contributing to a 401k.

1997, as I remember it, was a great year. Here's why...

The debut of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on The WB - Who knew the TV adaptation of a campy little film from 1992 starring Kristy Swanson (and Paul Reubens) would go on to become "one of the best television shows of all time"? (Rolling Stone, TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, Time...) What had attracted me to the show was its teen horror premise. To me, it was as if someone had adapted R.L. Stine's Fear Street book series into a weekly drama that I could enjoy. Little did I know how rich of a narrative Joss Whedon's saga would turn out to be.


The music video for Spice Girls's "Say You'll Be There" - It was a perfectly cheeky attempt to let the ladies play scantily-clad Barberella extras in the California desert.


The Lost World: Jurassic Park - After seeing Jurassic Park on the big screen for the first time at an impressionable age in 1993, it became my Star Wars. So when the sequel came along four years later, it became the first highly anticipated film of my adolescence.


I came in 2nd Place in the state of New York... in the Forensics category of Oral Interpretation at the annual speech-and-debate tournament in the capital city of Albany. My poetry and prose readings of Shel Silverstein and Stephen King killed. And my teammates at Iona Prep ruled back in the day.

Backstreet Boys arrived in the U.S. with their self-titled debut album - If you're like me, you remember where you were when you first heard "Quit Playing Games With My Heart." I'm pretty sure I was driving my dad's white Toyota Camry somewhere in Westchester County, New York when it came on the radio, and I asked myself, "Who are these Boyz II Men wannabes?"


And finally...

Why 1997 Sucked: Producers killed off my favorite TV character at the time, Sydney Andrews, on Melrose Place. At the end of the fifth season, she was mercilessly plowed down by a car -- in her wedding dress -- outside the church where she just tied the knot to Baywatch alum David Charvet. R.I.P.


@TheFirstEcho

Song of the Month: January 2017


If you’re looking for an anthemic track to get you pumped for the new year, open your ears to the lead single from new artist/producer Zayde Wolf (a.k.a. Dustin Burnett), “Golden Age.” The song is loaded with plenty of motivational lyrics (and epic electro-pop drumbeats) to get you going.

Listen here:

@TheFirstEcho

Obsession of the Week: 'Search Party' & 'Party of One'


So, to kick off the new year, I binged the entire first season of Search Party, TBS's mystery-comedy starring Alia Shawkat and the scene-stealing John Early -- in 2 days. That's a total of ten suck-you-in-quickly episodes filled with insufferable characters you'll grow to like, weird side plots, and a refreshing quirk I can't find anywhere else on television.

I had the opportunity to attend the show's premiere party in New York, but considering it was just shy one month of my annual holiday visit, I now wish I had jumped on that wagon sooner. This show is meant to be binged. Each 22-minute episode flies by, and I can't get enough of the ominous-cool theme song and score. Not to mention the retro-awesome Nancy Drew-esque key art for the show.


And you can catch the first episode to start your own obsession...here:


Then, another "Party" I'm obsessed with is Dave Holmes's Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs. The former MTV VJ brilliantly breaks down his childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood across chapters named after popular songs that punctuated his formative years. I'm only halfway through and intend to savor every pop culture-referencing page.

It's like he and I had similar adolescences -- mine in the 90s, his in the 80s.

Get on them - NOW.

@TheFirstEcho


REVIEW: 'Hidden Figures'


The great Space Race of the 1960s, as history books will explain, was a time filled with hope, innovation, and bravery. Hope amongst the American population, excited at the prospect of sending a man into the stars. Innovation surrounding the technology used to accomplish such a Herculean task. And bravery required of the pilots who were lined up to be the first human to travel where no man has gone before.

But little does history tell of the individuals who were instrumental in making all of that happen. See, Hidden Figures refers to both the unsung heroines who helped NASA scientists execute the perfect launch and the missing factors of a very large mathematical equation only a rare, intelligent mind could solve...

Check out my review of this exciting true story starring Taraji P. Henson over at ScreenPicks.

@TheFirstEcho

An Open Letter from 2016 to the World


Hello people,

It has recently come to my attention that a lot of you have many bones to pick with yours truly, and I'd like to take this opportunity to address and respond to some of your concerns and problems.

First of all, I apologize if you think I've let you down. Like most Januarys before, the first month held lots of promise. It was a fresh start. But then, a lot of shit happened.

Like, a lot...

Check out my latest on The Huffington Post -- HERE.

@TheFirstEcho

'Twas the Night Before Christmas: L.A. Edition


Twas the night before Christmas, and all through L.A.
Not an actor was stirring, nor using valet.
Tinder was ablaze with Netflix and chills,
While the botox flowed freely in Beverly Hills.

The agents were stunned by stars who were deceased,
While their heads filled with visions of box office receipts.
And I in Marc Jacobs, my plus-one in Cavalli,
Were just winding down from Spielberg's big party.

When out on the boulevard there arose such a noise,
I put down my iPhone and saw several boys.
They were scantily clad, yelling "Ho, ho, HO!"
I thought to myself, "Must be from WeHo."

Then over to the left, nursing bottles of craft beer,
The next batch of revelers were soon drawing near.
The man-buns and flannel, I did not mistake,
These hipsters were now arriving from Silverlake.

Not too far behind was a group very catty,
Their offspring in strollers, quite loud and quite bratty,
A dominant species in this part of Cali,
I give you the housewives from OC and the Valley.

Then next came the vegans, the goths, and the tanned,
Who joined hands and smiled, taking a proud stand,
From Santa Monica to Inglewood, there was no delay.
There were even folks who came up from South Bay.

They were all singing merrily, as if brought here by fate,
For weed was now legal across California state.
They celebrated bigly, danced 'round a large tree,
But no cookies for Santa (he's now gluten-free).

Their hero soon arrived, so sudden and quick,
I knew right then that it must be St Nick.
More rapid than the Metro his entourage came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name!

"Now Gosling, now Lawrence, now Affleck and Streep!
Take La Brea, take Wilshire, take all surface streets!
To the top of the Hills! To the bistros downtown!
Let's get this this party started, right here and right now!"

And then, in a twinkling, bubbly champagne flowed,
People were everywhere, blanketing the whole road.
As I got out of my Uber and was turning around,
 St. Nicholas leapt towards me in one single bound.

He spoke not a word, but reached into his bag, 
And pulled out a vape, offering me a drag. 
Then laying his finger aside of his nose, 
He snorted some glitter, heading towards Melrose.

He sprang to his Benz, to his team gave a shout, 
As he hopped on the 10 with a quick "Peace out!" 
But I heard him exclaim into the night so clear, 
"Happy Holidays to all, and Happy New Year!"

@TheFirstEcho