War Is Hell

Does that sound familiar?

SAT 2/26

What? Rumsfeld wants my parachute back?
Mike Gorman
What? Rumsfeld wants my parachute back?
There's a show at the Factory -- if you can make it past the Starting Line.
There's a show at the Factory -- if you can make it past the Starting Line.
No, it's not an extra from The Matrix; it's comedian Alonzo Bodden.
No, it's not an extra from The Matrix; it's comedian Alonzo Bodden.
Dingy rooms are, like, so rock n' roll.
Dingy rooms are, like, so rock n' roll.

The thing about war is that it's always been hell. That was clear to Aristophanes way back in the B.C., when old-school soldiers wore togas and sandals. But we must not hear so well, because playwright David Rabe has to tell us again in Streamers, his 1976 barracks-as-crucible play about nine American soldiers on the eve of shipping out for Vietnam. There's nothing like war for throwing contrasting people together and making them confront all that's divisive in the world. And Streamers, which opens Saturday at the Public Theatre of South Florida (6501 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation), is chock full of division -- division by race, by class, by sexual orientation.

The title Streamers refers to paratroopers whose chutes don't open, an apt term for confused draftees heading into certain peril. In the play, Rabe orders up a Happy Meal of straight, white, male fear -- fear of dying, fear of men of different races, fear of gays -- and then he supersizes it. Anxiety about an unpopular war ordered by a president from Texas? Rich white guys sitting home while minorities die in battle? Wow, it sounds like 2005 is the 1960s all over again. "Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a global situation where Streamers has become incredibly timely again," director David Jay Bernstein says. "It's a play that will make you think. It has a lot to say about the nature of war -- when war is necessary and when it's not."

Rabe is well-versed in war's nature. He spent two years in the Army during the '60s -- enough man-hours to inspire a lifetime of war dramas. Streamers is the third installment of his Vietnam trilogy (preceded by Sticks and Bones in 1969 and The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel in 1971). If you're not familiar with any of these, then think of Rabe as the guy who wrote the 1989 movie Casualties of War, another tough Vietnam War pressure cooker that throws men into small groups and makes them work with -- and against -- one another. Of course, if you like your fictional war stories more sugar-coated, stay tuned for Dubya's next press conference on Iraq. It's sure to smell like roses. Streamers runs through March 20. Tickets cost $22. Call 954-537-3648, or visit www.publictheatre.com. -- Dave Amber

As You Like it

Friendsters Rock!

FRI 2/25

You gotta feel sorry for teenaged girls today. Will somebody please tell us why their male counterparts like to dye their hair, wear bracelets, and start friendships by reading each other's Internet profiles? We're not even talking about the gay boys! Even the straight kids want nothing more from life than to look effeminate and become MTV's newest "pop-punk" band. Are the girls going to grow up without any hot, rough car mechanics, scientists, or boat captains to bang?

It's stuff like this that disturbs us: Matt Watts, guitarist for the Starting Line, introduced himself to singer-bassist Ken Vasoli with an e-mail that said, "My name is Matt. I live about 20 minutes from you. I checked out your AOL profile. You like a lot of cool bands. I was wondering if you knew anyone who would be interested in singing for my band."

To Vasoli's credit, he was like, "What the fuck is this?" But he replied! Ah, well, good for them -- before they were even done with school, the kiddies learned to play their instruments and got signed to Drive-Thru records. And that turns teenaged girls on. Friday, TSL plays the Factory (2674 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) with Further Seems Forever. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $15. Call 954-564-ROCK. -- Deirdra Funcheon

Silly Idols

No sacred cows in comedy

FRI 2/25

Thanks to the cultural dictators of network TV, the word idol is now more misused than a William Hung recording. There's a high enough humor quotient on the Comedy Idols Tour -- featuring former Last Comic Standing contestants Alonzo Bodden, Kathleen Madigan, and John Heffron -- but it's not like anyone will be building statues of them anytime soon. If any of the three can be called an idol, it's Bodden, whose earnest style and natural delivery helped propel him past the dozens of other neurotic, eager-to-please contestants. Bodden's narrative-driven humor deals with the usual topics (relationships, sports, race) but with a more personal slant, whether he's talking about being the only black guy in Greenland or how having female friends without benefits is like having $19 in your ATM account. Hey, at least he's honest! The idolatry takes place at 8 p.m. Friday at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts (2855 Coral Springs Dr., Coral Springs). Tickets cost $29.68 to $44.52. Call 954-344-5990. -- Jason Budjinski

Sounds Like Teen Spirit

FRI 2/25

It's hard to imagine that there's a '90s revival already under way. But sure enough, there it is. Go ahead and Google it for yourself; you might even stumble upon the Exies, an alt-rock band that fell into a '90s time capsule sometime around Y2K. Formed in 1997, the Los Angeles foursome made its self-titled debut in 2000. Five years and two albums later, the Exies haven't changed much, save for a little more Nirvana in their sound. On 2004's Head for the Door, vocalist Scott Stevens sounds uncannily like Kurt Cobain ("Splinter" borrows generously from Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box"). The main difference is a few more effects pedals. And, unfortunately, a touch of Hoobastank. The Exies drop by Ovation (3637 S. Federal Hwy., Boynton Beach) Friday. Tickets cost $6 to $8. Call 561-740-7076. -- Jason Budjinski

 
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