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Video Digest: July 14, 2006

Depps and Dips: Johnny Depp; Russian winged dancers; OK Go dance contest; dogs doing the dance as well; Tom Waits's greatest clips

Two decades before Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest had the biggest opening weekend in history, Johnny Depp was just another rock-star wannabe roped into a shitty FOX contract. Back in those days, Depp complained an awful lot about playing Tom Hanson, the dreamy undercover cop on 21 Jump Street, and how miserable it was to be a heartthrob. Made me feel kinda weird about licking his pin-up pictures so much.

Anyway, these days, everyone loves Johnny Depp. Even illiterate serial killers sniffle during Edward Scissorhands, and bored teens everywhere sure enjoy turning the movie’s emotional scenes into overwrought music videos.

I thought it was time, however, to look back on the Tommy Hanson days. Were they really so bad? A handful of montages have been posted on YouTube by someone calling herself Maryline Depp—so, I guess, they’re married?—and I’m struck by what a chameleon Depp was, even in those days. Would there be a Jack Sparrow without a Tommy Hanson? I don’t think so, Mr. Depp. Respect.

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These days, you can’t turn on your television without stumbling over some blasted contest—dorks dancing or goth kids singing rock songs or giant gay Russians with angel wings balancing swords while doing the splits.

It’s like network TV has turned into my senior year talent show, although I have yet to see a bunch of frat dudes dancing to the Jackson 5 wearing fake afros. But maybe there’s hope? Last February, OK Go put out a fantastic little video for their song “A Million Ways”, featuring a hilarious but impressive backyard dance, which kids started performing at supper clubs and talent contests all over. Last week, Damian Kulash and Tim Norwind of OK Go announced a YouTube contest for the best imitation of the “Million Ways” dance. Am I wrong, or could fake afros really seal the deal?

And some of the entries:

This is not an easy dance, by the way. Mimed sword fights make drill team look pretty pedestrian. But you know what would make it harder? If you were a dog. Don’t worry, dogs: It can be done!

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The best concert I ever saw was Tom Waits at the Paramount Theater during SXSW 1999. It was his fourth live show in something like a decade, and people were selling their mothers on eBay for a ticket. Waits played the whole show like it was another smoky night tickling ivories at the Troubadour—instead of a largely industry show at an ornate opera house—and I remember him saying something like, “People ask me why I never tour. I didn’t know anyone wanted to see me.” Well, now he knows better. His recently announced tour skips New York—and a lot of other places, too—but has compiled a series of live Tom Waits clips for your viewing enjoyment. Add Lucky Strikes and bourbon for full effect.

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