The church may have a massive public relations nightmare on its hands as of late, but God's house is still cranking out some of the world's top cultural treasures. For whatever reason, whatever is associated with church is even cooler when used outside of the church.
Catholic school-girl uniforms-How many boys made themselves men to the pig-tailed gals of Aerosmith's early videos?
Virgin Mary candles-A necessary accoutrement for every hipster.
Holy water-What B-rate vampire flick would've surpassed a C-grade if it hadn't boasted violent scenes where Guerillas of Good massacre vampires using Super Soakers filled with Jesus juice?
Dry, saltless bread that's supposed to evoke the flesh of a dead man-Well, that may never be cool.
Gospel choirs-Eateries sell a bucket-load of flapjacks and potatoes (the mark-up on taters is huge) by throwing "Gospel brunches."
Robert Randolph-The sacred steel guitarist is hot enough to play the Grammies with Outkast.
"When you're growin' up in an inner city neighborhood, you got street gangs and drugs and killing is a part of the lifestyle," says Randolph, who had "four or five" friends die while growing up in Irvington, N.J. "And that's what I was a part of. Through music I was able to come out of that."
I'd say. In 2001, Randolph was pulled into a jazz offshoot called The Word with John Medeski and the North Mississippi AllStars. His playing on the sacred steel-so-called because Randolph's church, the House of God, has used the traditional Hawaiian and country-music guitar to wail out gospel jams for Jesus since the 1930s-was exceptional.
Now, he's signed to Warner Brothers Records. He'll tour with Eric Clapton this summer. He knows the Chargers cheerleaders, who he occasionally drives down from L.A. to visit, going out downtown or at the beach (presumably Pacific Beach, although Randolph can't recall).
"They're great people," he says of his Charger Girl pals. "They're supposed to get me some tickets."
"To see LaDanian Tomlinson?" I ask.
"Yeah. I'm also going to check out this other quarterback, because I'm a Giants fan."
I tell him the Chargers never wanted Eli Manning, anyway.
"Uh-huh. Yeah," he chuckles, in a way that says our home team got screwed.
Robert Randolph and The Family Band plays with Shane Dwight at 4th & B, 8 p.m. on Aug. 1. $22.50. 619-231-4343.