What's red, white, and sued all over? It's the White Stripes! Hot off the new-release bonanza of Elephant, Jack and Meg have been busted for lifting most of the lyrics and the title from White Blood Cells' "The Union Forever" from the movie Citizen Kane. Nobody's sure why it took Warner Bros. two years to get around to it, but one copyright attorney says the band could owe "in excess of 3 or 4 million dollars" in back royalties if they lose the case. Another attorney, however, points out that Jack has always been open about the inspiration, and that they may be able to use the defense that the track is (in legal-speak) "transformative" to get off. We wish them luck, but heed the tragic tale of the Verve, who ended up giving buttloads of money to the poor, impoverished Rolling Stones for the unauthorized sample in "Bittersweet Symphony," thus greatly reducing their rock 'n' roll dreams of early retirement, second homes in St. Croix, and really hot third wives. . . . Less scandal-plagued but also a lot less exciting were the Black Keys, who played to a good-sized crowd at Graceland Friday night, but were, as our wise friend H. described, "like a Blues Traveler for the new millennium." Indeed, we do believe the hype machine steered us wrong on that one, and the Austin sun just may have baked the critical faculties right out of us when we saw them last month. More impressive was the Bright Eyes/Arab Strap bill at the Showbox, in which Connor Oberst actually incorporated affecting, relevant war lyrics into a tight, career-spanning set that only lost us a little during the seemingly endless encore. And props to talented multi-instrumentalist and Faint/Bright Eyes producer Mike Moogis, whose pedal steel and vibes bumped the whole thing up one gorgeous notch. . . . The jams are being kicked out, yes, but by really weird people: Recently we've seen Jennifer Aniston on Friends and Justin Timberlake (on the cover of freakin'
Vibe, no less) sporting spanky-new MC5 T-shirts on their flawlessly lit, expensively exfoliated, and Pilates-toned bodies. Why has the logo of a gnarly agit-punk band that broke up 26 years ago suddenly become more popular with silly celebrities than those Urban Outfitters "Jesus is My Homeboy" shirts? It turns out, Levi's has licensed the logo to manufacture "high-end" tees that will only be available in Europe (and, apparently, to famous, good-looking Americans in the $10 millionplus tax bracket). According to MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, the whole thing is kind of an accident—"Gary Grimshaw, the artist who designed the MC5 logo, licensed it to Levi's for a pittance, when it actually wasn't his to license. I objected, but Levi's got back to me and said, 'Wayne, if you don't sign off on this, we're gonna make the artist give the money back.' I wasn't gonna do that to Gary, so I said OK." All's swell that ends well, though, because now the band and the brand have agreed to go in on "future projects," which so far has meant a March reunion show in London, featuring the three surviving members. . . . What to buy your dad for Father's Day: Fonky jazz cat Dr. Lonnie Smith has put together a whole album of covers called Boogaloo to Beck (Scufflin' Records) rearranging Mr. Odelay's work in a "classic organ trio context" with the help of producer/jazz guitarist Doug Munro, who's also recently completed string tributes to R.E.M., Weezer, U2, and the Dixie Chicks, and is currently at work on a Metallica string project, which his Web site promises "will be EPIC!" . . . If you thought the soundtrack to Hedwig and the Angry Inch was way better than half the shit trying to pass itself off as nuevo glam-rock, then you'll be happy to know it's being reworked by Sleater-Kinney, the Breeders, Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright, Yo La Tengo with Yoko Ono, and Bens Lee, Kweller, and Folds for Wig in a Box: Songs from Hedwig, which will
benefit gay, lesbian, and transgender students. . . . Also getting a tribute: beloved '90s punkers Jawbreaker, who'll be covered by the likes of Sparta, Kill Your Idols, and Face to Face on a Dying Wish Records compilation. . . .Nikki Sixx (who talks a lot about his delinquent teenage years in Seattle, if you read un-put-downable Motley Cre bio The Dirt) is now writing a book called The Heroin Diaries, a chronicle of his smack-addled journey through the '80s and '90s as a rock 'n' roll superstar and all-around sexy mofo. Sixx has also been taking meetings with Jackass' Johnny Knoxville to play him in the film version of Dirt, which will be released next year, probably in conjunction with a Cre reunion tour (yesss). . . . Apparently even writing a really, really silly anti-war song (last time we checked, "camera" and "Zoolander" didn't rhyme) can't keep the Beastie Boys down: They sold out an April 25 one-off gig at Las Vegas' House of Blues in 24 seconds. The show will benefit the family and estate of the late Jam Master Jay. . . . Speaking of Run DMC, DMC is in the studio working on a solo record, and a New York friend tells us the tracks he played for her, including a remix of "Cat's in the Cradle" featuring Pink (!) on vocals, plus collaborations with 50 Cent and Doug E. Fresh, were "awesome." . . . Does anyone else have that Liam Lynch song "United States of Whatever" wedged in their head? We are almost ready to see a doctor for surgical removal, but seriously, we haven't enjoyed joke rock this much since Tenacious D stopped being funny.
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