i also forgot to mention that on thursday the l.a. times published my interview with julien temple about his new film on joe strummer, the future is unwritten. (also dig carina chocano's review of the movie.) i never saw the clash. i knew about them earlier than i knew about most punk bands, due to the hit "rock the casbah," from combat rock, an album i actually owned. (i always loved "sean flynn"; i'd read dispatches around that same time and was fascinated by this mysterious peripheral character.) but i did see joe strummer & the mescaleros at the anaheim house of blues, in october 2001, about a year before he died. it was a job for the times, and a haul to drive all the way down there, but it was worth it. the show was wonderful, just electrifying. the place was packed and sweaty and full of righteous joy. he didn't play any actual clash tunes -- wait, i think they did do "bankrobber," and maybe "rudie can't fail"? -- but did clash-associated covers like "i fought the law" and "police and thieves." mostly it was mescaleros, though, but still political and social, radical and musically multicultural.
anyway, the movie is really good and left a lump in my throat for a lot of it, b/c we know how the story ends, and it's very sad. joe strummer died before his time, but the film reminds us that his message matters now more than ever. also, he was human to a fault, but still a hero, just b/c he tried to do the right thing. and he tried to stand for what is right. and he learned from his mistakes, sometimes. and he wasn't afraid to admit it.
he reminded us, too, of the power of music. his own, and the music he loved.
it's easy to be cynical in this world where too many critics are preoccupied with what britney's new album is trying to tell us. (who cares?) but i have a friend whose 11-year-old daughter is learning guitar, and she has lately been into the clash. one of her favorite songs is "know your rights." i cannot help thinking that joe strummer would find that cool. i know i do.