True Detective Season 2 Episode 2: RIP Ray Velcoro?

Am I dead or am I not? Answer the damn question.

Am I dead or am I not? Answer the damn question.

Spoiler Alert: If you are not up to speed on the second season of HBO’s True Detective you might want to avert your eyes.

On Saturday night at the tail end of a game of drunk UNO I witnessed grown men drop atomic shade on one another over a disagreement about the second season of HBO’s True Detective. One combatant remarked he saw no way this season wouldn’t suck given the action movie director who helmed the first two episodes – and a few other reasons that were lost in my mind’s surf. His opponent called bullshit on him for not seeing the first episode before desecrating the show. Pretty soon people were red in the face and yeah, our UNO game went to shit. Shame too because I was one card away from calling UNO.

True Detective’s second episode is just as bleak as its first, maybe more so in the way Vinci Police Det. Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) gets what he wants at show’s end – death. RIP Ray Velcoro? When the person wearing the bizarro raven’s head shoots him twice from close range inside the Vinci city manager creep’s Hollywood pad this appears the end of his character. HBO even went to pains to omit Velcoro from the third episode’s trailer. Then again, there’s no funeral scene in the trailer either.

BIG SPOILER ALERT …

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OR NOT ….

Velcoro survives. I watched the third episode hours after the UNO game wrapped (and before I watched the second episode because … alcohol). I am not going to say anything more about the third episode other than Farrell appears. Before you shout at me for ruining the show, Taylor Kitsch, who plays suicidal highway cop Paul Woodrugh, gave Velcoro’s fate away this week in an interview with The Daily Beast. “There’s a scene in Episode 4 where Paul just melts down in front of Farrell’s character … ” Kitsch told the site. For what it’s worth, IMDb also has Farrell appearing in eight episodes.

Well, I’ll be damned.

So, yeah. Velcoro lives, and why wouldn’t he? Colin Farrell is the best thing going this season. Don’t believe me? Re-watch the scene in which he tells his ex-wife his ginger “son” is the only thing he has in his “shitty” life. If show creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto had whacked him in the second episode he could have set the next six episodes on fire.

It is bizarre that A) this type of cliffhanger would be used so early in the season and B) that Kitsch would be dishing out spoilers. Both seem rather gimmicky. So too does the sudden news that Kitsch and co-star Rachel McAdams, who plays investigator Antigone Bezzerides, are dating in real life.

Nerves are raw surrounding True Detective’s second season – I mean, I almost witnessed a “battle to the death” over the show this past weekend – so I’m not about to call it trash compared to the first season. It does seem like people are focused a lot on peripheral items this season rather than just watching the screen. Something tells me Rust Cohle would not approve.

The MTA and the Odyssey

The cover of this week's Village Voice featuring a great and maddening story on the MTA.

The cover of this week’s Village Voice featuring a great and maddening story on the MTA.

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Post No. 58 titled “The MTA and the Odyssey” highlights my train ordeal this morning, in the wake of a Village Voice cover story about the subway system’s shortcomings.

In this morning’s wee hours, after attending a dud rap show featuring hacks, wacks and lame MCs, I boarded a train from Manhattan’s Lower East Side returning to Astoria, Queens, unaware I had set into motion my own epic henceforth known as “The MTA and the Odyssey.” My six-mile trip northeast lasted longer than most feature-length films, as garbage on the tracks, a Queens-bound subway line ending its route prematurely in Manhattan and a Times Square station clusterfuck conspired against my desire to pass out in my bed. At least my ride included a drunk white guy dispensing invaluable knowledge on why ordering chicken fried rice is a pro move. Gotta look at the bright side while waiting for the MTA to investigate why gigantic chunks of filth litter the train tracks.

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True Detective Season 2 Episode 1: 10 Thoughts

True Detective's real hero: Colin Farrell's 'stache.

True Detective’s real hero: Colin Farrell’s ‘stache.

Noted New Jersey nihilist, uh former journalist, Lloyd Nelson suggested I write about the second season of HBO’s True Detective for shits, giggles and page views. Told me, I would have to pay him for his next good idea. Alas, I am waiting for the hedge fund millions to roll in, not to mention Good Idea Numero Dos, before I fork over any bit coin.

In the weeks leading up to its premiere, the True Detective Season Two Kinda Sucks narrative became all the rage among critical types. Stories circled about creator Nic Pizzolato’s insufferable auteur act, this season’s lack of compelling characters and its predilection for flyover shots of L.A. instead of anything plot-related. This critical piling on served as a stark contrast to the critical love fest that showered Season One.

It’s too early to brand the show DOA. I mean, Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Cohle from the first season is not coming to save it with his unique brand of nihilism but Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro, he of the impressive ‘stache and bolo tie collection, will find me and break my face if I write this season off too soon. Ah, yes. Living in fear of crooked police. That’s not anything we’ve heard about in 2015.

Here’s 10 thoughts from True Detective Season 2 Episode 1 ranging from the inane to the profound (uh, maybe not). Here’s a good time to stop reading if you haven’t watched the episode because spoilers will rear their heads.

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Bobby Jindal is Stannis Baratheon of GOP Field

Where is Melisandre when I need her? Wait, she rode off too?!

Where is Melisandre when I need her? Wait, she rode off too?!

NOTE: Game of Thrones spoilers ahead.

Surprising absolutely no one, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced today on social media his intent to run for the Republican presidential nomination. Did anyone actually think Jindal, after years furthering his own White House ambitions with hundreds of campaign trips designed to grow his national brand, refusing anything that resembled a tax even if it plunged his state into a billion-dollar deficit and making controversial speeches about gays and Muslims, would inform the media and the electorate he had decided NOT to run?

Bobby Jindal is Stannis Baratheon, or at least finds himself in a similar predicament as the would-be king found himself on Season 5 of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Jindal faces extremely long odds of achieving his White House goal but at this point is in too deep to retreat. He’s spent years telling anyone who would listen he possesses the gravitas to run the nation. He must ride forward even if it means his campaign will be routed and serve as a future cautionary tale. C’est la vie.

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Against Me! and Our Post-Sellout World

I am a Mountain Dew-sponsored hand model. Yes, I am.

I am a Mountain Dew-sponsored hand model. Yes, I am.

Two Saturdays ago, I found myself standing under a high, unrelenting afternoon sun in a glorified parking lot in Williamsburg, some lab-invented concoction called a Mountain Dew Kickstart Limeade in my hand, waiting for Florida punks Against Me! and Our Post-Sellout World to start. I mention Mountain Dew because its Green Label put on the free show at Northside Fest in Brooklyn, offering complimentary energy drinks, soft drinks and water to fans. Meanwhile, boozehounds had to pay for alcohol because this is America.

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Dear South Carolina: Remove the Confederate Flag ASAP

Photo credit: Charleston Post and Courier.

Photo credit: Charleston Post and Courier.

As pieces of cloth go the Confederate flag is a reprehensible piece of seditious shit, a treasonous, blood-soaked embodiment of fear, ignorance and hate and an example of man’s most brutish tendencies winning over his shared humanity. Those who argue for the flag’s tradition, heritage and rebel spirit 150 years after the South lost the Civil War are, in essence, vouching for the enslavement, murder and torture that occurred in the flag’s name. This includes the cowards who call themselves leaders in the state of South Carolina.

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Favorite Albums 2015 Halftime Edition

On Carrie and Lowell, Sufjan's search for meaning in the wake of his estranged mom's death is arguably his finest work in a superlative career.

On Carrie and Lowell, Sufjan’s search for meaning in the wake of his estranged mom’s death is arguably his finest work in a superlative career.

Today marks the third and final installment of Listicles Week – my Favorite Albums 2015 Halftime Edition. Be sure to check out my Favorite Concerts and Favorite Songs lists too.

2015 will be remembered in music critic circles as the Twenty-Teens best year, I predict. Yeah, only half the year is in the books but what a half-year. Sufjan Stevens and Kendrick Lamar dropped classics, Sleater-Kinney and Bjork returned with a vengeance and Alabama Shakes, Florence + The Machine and Drake cemented their commercial standing with critically adored records. Plus Courtney Barnett and Leon Bridges performed like seasoned vets not album rooks.

And the year’s second half looks filthy. The promise of scheduled releases from personal faves Disclosure, Frank Ocean, Jason Isbell, Miguel, Tame Impala and Titus Andronicus (to name a few) in the next few months are making my ears salivate – yes, that’s a thing.

That’s one way of saying I might have to rip up my Favorite Albums 2015 Halftime Edition list in short order. For the time being these are my favorite albums released thus far.

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Favorite Songs 2015 Halftime Edition

Where does Kendrick Lamar rank on the list? Photo Credit: Henning Heide

Where does Kendrick Lamar rank on the list? Photo Credit: Henning Heide

Today is Part Two of Listicles Week featuring my Favorite Songs 2015 Halftime Edition. Tomorrow I will name my favorite albums of 2015 (so far).

Below are my 40 favorite songs of 2015 (so far). At the bottom you’ll find a Spotify playlist featuring most of the songs. Also, be sure to check out my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition too. Enjoy!

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Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition

His skills with the mic, both singing into it and upheaving it, earned soul goodwill ambassador Charles Bradley a spot on my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition. Photo: CajunTomato

His skills with the mic, both singing into it and upheaving it, earned soul goodwill ambassador Charles Bradley a spot on my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition. Photo: CajunTomato

Listicles Week starts today with my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition – a list comprised solely of NYC shows I’ve attended for free (the only kind of shows I’ve seen this year). I will drop my Favorite Songs and Albums of 2015 later this week.

In the meantime here are my 10 favorite concert performances of the year listed in alphabetical order according to the artist’s first name. Click the performer’s name to read my original review. Enjoy!

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Photos: Charles Bradley at World’s Fair Anniversary Festival

Flap your wings, Screamin' Eagle of Soul.

Flap your wings, Screamin’ Eagle of Soul.

NYC-based soul dynamo and noted “Victim of Love” Charles Bradley performed Sunday during the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. The 66-year-old “Screamin’ Eagle of Soul” played from his two records, No Time for Dreaming and Victim of Love, surrounded by guitars, horns, keys and percussion players, shimmied, shook and crawled on the stage and shared insight into his transformation from being homeless and on death’s door less than a decade ago to a celebrated musician traveling the world with his band, The Extraordinaires. As in the other times I’ve witnessed Bradley, I came away from his Queens performance convinced the love and joy he manifests on-stage is a rare, beautiful and important force in music today. His spirit touched me.

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From the bayou to NYC and beyond, cher.

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