GEEK HOP: "The MC Paul Barman full-length is finally Out!", trumpets MC Paul Barman himself at the outset of his new lexical masterstroke, Paullelujah! "I only had to wait six years, but itís here man, itís here!" It hasnít been quite that long since Barmanís earth-trembling debut EP of Ivy League rhymes was dropped on the unsuspecting masses ó that was back in 2000. But for many, itís been long enough. Fortunately Paulís gleefully prurient new single, "Cock Mobster" ("I like shorn-quim lasses in horn-rimmed glasses"), proves his time away was not ill spent. And the wait to see the New Jersey Nebbish in the circumcised flesh wonít be too long now either: heíll be schlepping his "bad sex and slapstick" over to the Middle East on December 8. Tickets are $10; call (617) 864-EAST.
PAINTING: The next blockbuster show at the Museum of Fine Arts, "Impressions of Light: The French Landscape from Corot to Monet," promises to be a corker. Drinking in the multifarious beauty of the Gallic countryside, it seeks to dispel the notion that the evolution of French landscape painting was a linear progression from the Barbizon School through Impressionism and beyond. Instead, it uncovers a fructiferous stew of competing and complementing ideas and techniques, as it bobs and weaves though 150 works by Degas and Gauguin and Pissarro and Van Gogh ó artists with a near-religious devotion to natureís exultant beauty. The show will run from December 15 through April 13. Tickets, which are $20, go on sale this Friday, November 1; call (617) 542-4MFA or visit www.mfa.org.
COMEDY: Not only is Jon Stewart funny, heís smart, too. And he keeps up with the news. As anchor for that paragon of the fourth estate, Comedy Centralís The Daily Show, he has to. Topics that might be discussed when Stewart gets out from behind the news desk, puts on some pants, and stands on stage at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday December 14: the War in Iraq (which may or may not have gotten under way by then); the vagaries of the American political process; hemorrhoids. Tickets are $35.50 to $49.50; call (617) 931-2000.
MUSICAL: Theyíre baa-ack. Historyís most successful karate-robe-clad Swedish pop craftsmen, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (formerly the hirsute half of world singing sensations Abba), will see their Broadway and West End hit musical Mamma Mia!, with its cheeky saga of matrimony by mythical Greek seas and a libretto of 22 Abba smashes, return once again to our humble Theater District. Last year Mamma Mia! enjoyed a box-office-obliterating 12-week run at the Colonial Theatre. Can it repeat? Do your part to help when it returns to the Colonial January 25 through March 16. Tickets are $27 to $87; call (617) 931-2787
Tony Hawk reinvents skateboarding . . . again
Professional skateboarding is unlike most other professional sports. It has no World Series, no Super Bowl. With a few exceptions at the very top, its participants rely on the subsidies of product makers, but there is less corporate money available than in, say, NASCAR. What pro skateboarding has in the assets column is Tony Hawk. A skateboarding legend before skateboarding was lucrative, heís profiled alongside rock stars and soap-opera studs on MTV Cribs and in parenting magazines; heís a marketable brand name in everything from ball bearings to video games. He retired from competition in 1999, at the age of 31, after 17 years as a pro; but age is not as big a problem in skateboarding as it might be in, say, pro basketball. "I donít like to make ultimatums," he says when asked how much longer he believes he can skate productively. "But my skating has been improving recently, and I really like this idea."
This idea heís talking about is Tony Hawkís Boom Boom Huck Jam, an extreme-sports spectacle featuring the top five athletes in skateboarding, BMX, and motocross performing on a specially built million-dollar ramp system; the inaugural version of the tour hits the FleetCenter next Friday. Like the Warped Tour and the X-Games, the Boom Boom Huck Jam has a music component; guest bands range from the Offspring and CKY out West to, in Boston, Social Distortion. But unlike the Warped Tour, the Boom Boom Huck Jam puts the focus on the athletes, and unlike the X-Games, itís not a competition. Itís closer in character to a monster-truck rally or "Champions on Ice": no winners are crowned; about half of the routines presented each night are choreographed; and Hawk has employed the pyrotechnics and lighting and video teams responsible for arena tours by íN Sync and U2. "This is a showcase for these guys to express themselves more," he says over the phone from California. "In competition youíre more conservative, but with this event youíre riding without time constraints. A lot of these guys enjoy the format and are willing to miss competitions just to do this."
The question seems to be whether the future of skateboarding is, as it was in the drought-emptied pools of Southern California in the í70s, a matter of a man against himself and his environment or, as it has become in the post-X-Games universe, a man-against-other-men dynamic of the type demanded by networks, advertisers, and team sponsors, all of whom have a vested interest in certifiable champions and their endorsements. "I think thereíll always be a competitive aspect to skateboarding," says Hawk. "Itís inevitable that in anything subjective, thereís gonna be organized competition and judges and some sort of public measure for whoís the best. But at the same time, our sport is just as creative and artistic as any other, and itís based on individual accomplishment, and I think it can be just as viable as a big arena show as it can be as a competition."
Right now, thereís no question who the best of all time is: Tony Hawk is in his sportís driverís seat the way few other athletes have ever been. "Thereís no show that really highlights what we do," he says, and it is difficult to imagine another top athlete saying this ó it would be like Lance Armstrong complaining that the Tour de France was a bit beside the point. Skateboarding, Hawk would like to think, is a lot more like rock and roll than it is like baseball. When he talks about the Boom Boom Huck Jam, he invariably brings up Cirque du Soleil, one of his inspirations for the tour: "Itís a circus, but it also has these elements youíve never seen before. We want to show our fans that thereís another aspect to our sport, that we can put on a show that has choreography, that has lighting, thatís not just a goofy version of what we do."
The Tony Hawk Boom Boom Huck Jam, with performances by Tony Hawk, Mat Hoffman, Dave Mirra, and Carey Hart and musical guests Social Distortion, hits the FleetCenter at 7:30 p.m. next Friday, November 8. Tickets are $25 to $75. Call (617) 931-2000.
BY CARLY CARIOLI