Monday, December 03, 2007

Babies are assholes

I don’t really know why but I’ve been very anti-kids lately. My current running joke is to loudly proclaim that babies serve absolutely no purpose to society. (My other proclamation is the title of this post which is, to me, the greatest sentiment to come out of Sex and the City.)

Maybe it’s from living in “Stroller Slope” but it can’t be the sole reason since I don’t actually spend a whole lot of time in my neighborhood.

I think I’ve just grown tired of getting steamrolled by strollers when parents are coming out of store entrances. Or having to deal with getting constantly bumped by the implausibly large bags that parents absent-mindedly swing around while trying to corral their screaming kids.

It’s not that I even hate all kids. My twin cousins are a riot and I love them to death. They are the smartest, cutest, most delightful beings I’ve ever met. And it’s not a family bias because I can’t even keep track of the number of bratty, annoying cousins that I’d love to inflict some serious character-developing pain onto.

I admit that other kids can be great too. I sat on the F train this weekend and observed a man with a 3 year old boy who was charming the pants off of everyone around him. He was reciting funny stories or songs and offering up his dad’s iPod earbuds to fellow passengers causing every woman to coo at him.

But then directly across from him were parents with two out of control terrors. The parents looked like wrecks; the father had resigned to clutching the son’s jacket by the hood while the boy flailed around, effectively choking him at times. The mom just sat and stared at the daughter who had developed an awesome talent of kicking other riders’ possessions.

And that’s what it comes down to. Most of the kids that I want to strangle are the ones that are out of control, with the parents too oblivious, exhausted or inconsiderate enough to reel them in. So I know the blame really goes to the parents but it’s hard not to hate the uncoordinated, spit-stained scream-factories buried in Gap Kids wear.

I’m also aware that I’m being supremely critical without any first-hand knowledge of the hell that parents go through. I’ll probably be guilty of all the things I’m ranting about.

But screw all that. For now, I’m single and childless and I just want to get where I’m going without having to dodge out-of-control strollers or get tripped up by tots running wildly on the sidewalks. So parents: Stay out of my way and get your shit together!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Autumn, I hardly knew ye

It is currently 37 degrees with the sun out. I’ve grudgingly accepted the fact that the fall season in New York lasted about 36 hours this year.

I’ve definitely noticed that my mood has been affected by the weather more so than ever before. The short days and biting wind have kept me depressed and sour for the past few weeks.

I used to hear about people in Seattle being chronically depressed due to the constant rain, and I would scoff. I guess I never truly believed that climate could affect one's mood.

Of course I used to live in Texas where we were never without climate controlled environments for more than a few minutes. It was always a balmy 76 degrees in our cars and in our central-air houses.

Now having a few Northeast winters under my belt, I can say that I've learned a little more each time. I’ve been a little more prepared for onset of each winter. Last year was a respectable coat and warm socks. This year continues that trend with my splurging on $60 earmuffs.

Yes. $60. For earmuffs.

Cashmere earmuffs, and they’re grrrreat. I’ve used them twice and my ears are toasty and warm.

I struggled with the decision to buy them for a while. I walked past them a few times, even got to the front entrance of the store. But then memories of last winter, fighting the wind while trying to walk up the street, trying to burrow myself into my coat, and the vivid sensation of stinging cold on my ears kept me coming back to the earmuffs.

I can’t even imagine my parents dishing out $60 for a whole sweater, yet I had to have the earmuffs. I don’t think I will even be able to tell them the price because I can already picture the astonished looks on their faces.

I’m tempted to flaunt my new arsenal of warm clothes at winter and say "Bring it on, bitch!" but I know that I’m still a wuss when it comes to the cold and will just meekly hope that winter will just take this year off and leave us New Yorkers alone.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Review: Radiohead’s In Rainbows

Even though it’s been over 4 years since their last release, Radiohead somehow manage to stay in the forefront of modern alternative’s elite. So naturally, it’s quite a big deal when they finally release an album.

I’m sure reviews of In Rainbows will litter the internets quickly; but as for my first listen impressions, this is a great Radiohead album. I don’t quite consider it their best ever as greenplastic does... yet. It would take quite a lot to wrestle my affections away from OK Computer.

In this record, Radiohead gets about as close to sounds they created in The Bends since... well, The Bends. I doubt this was an accident. Thom’s first lyrics are “How come I end up where I started?”

Focusing less on electronic elements and bringing in more orchestration and (gasp) guitars, they retain the mantle of greatness we’ve all thrust upon them. But something’s different. The band sounds almost upbeat and happy. Or about as happy as Radiohead can sound. There’s still an aura of melancholy, but In Rainbows is a noticeable departure from their ominous landscapes of pending (or post) apocalypse and the general downfall of mankind.

Street Spirit, with it’s lyrics “Immerse yourself in love” could fit right in on this album, and I think a lot of people are going to be happy about that. Me, I’ve grown to love Hail to the Thief as much as any of their records and am just glad to have some more Radiohead material.

Stand outs for me so far are Reckoner, House of Cards and All I Need.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Arthur & Yu at Soundfix Records, 10/1/07

I recently discovered the debut album, In Camera, by the Seattle indie/folk group Arthur & Yu. I’m a sucker for harmonies, especially guy and girl duos, so this was right up my alley.

Last night, I was lucky enough to catch them playing a set at Soundfix Records in Williamsburg, on apparently their first national tour. After my last concert (at Madison Square Garden), it was refreshing to go watch a show in a small intimate venue. I was actually sitting next to the lead singer, Grant Olsen watching him write out the setlist at the bar. That doesn’t exactly happen at MSG.

The café at Soundfix was charming and friendly. It made me want to hang out in Williamsburg more often; if only it weren’t such a pain in the ass to get to.

The band drew a decent crowd into the café, and definitely grew more relaxed as the show went on. The live renditions of their songs were done well, a bit louder and more vibrant than the mellowness of the album.

The band members are definitely low-key personas. No Karen O’s in this group. At one point the female singer, Sonya Wescott, actually apologized for being “the shyest band you’ll probably ever see”. How can you not love these guys after a statement like that?

It’s rare that I find an album that I enjoy thoroughly, but this was one of them. It was nice to hear just about every song live, including my favorites Lion’s Mouth and There Are Too Many Birds, but definitely wished to hear them do The Ghost of Old Bull Lee. Alas, maybe next time.

Monday, October 01, 2007


In spectacular fashion, Radiohead announces the release of their next album in less than 2 weeks!

As only Radiohead could and would do, they’re doing so by eschewing the involvement of any evil corporate record labels.

Great for the little guy, right? Um, the answer’s a big fat "NO".

The album is priced at over $80!!! WTF?!?! Way to turn a sure-fire purchase into a financial dilemma for me, guys.

I could just get the digital download version for a cheap price, but I guess I’m just old fashioned in wanting a physical artifact.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Car sick

I just finished watching a documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car, which chronicles the creation and ultimate end of General Motor’s EV1: a completely gas-free, road-tested, already-manufactured, zero-emissions electric car.

I was surprised to find out that someone (a major car manufacturer, in fact) had solved the issue of oil dependency and put a huge dent in our source of carbon emissions.... several years ago.

That sense of surprise quickly gave way to frustration as I watched the story unfold of how oil companies, government (state and federal), and car companies (including GM itself) put all their might into crushing the propagation of this miracle technology.

It was sobering to see a small group of inventors, advocates and loyal consumers with a genuine desire to do some good in the world get swallowed up by selfish, short-sighted money moguls.

I’m sure this film was created by people who are quiet partial to the EV1 side, so take the info with a grain of salt. But after a lifetime of being force-fed the views of Big Oil and those fellas in Detroit, it’s worth hearing a bit of the other side’s perspective for once.

And g.w. bush somehow managed to make me loathe him even more; quite a feat.

Netflix it and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interpol at Madison Square Garden, 9/14/07

For my first Interpol show, Madison Square Garden was an interesting venue. It made me realize that I’d much rather see bands in a smaller setting, like say Bowery or Webster Hall.

This feeling might have been brought on by the fact that my friends and I were about as far away from the stage as possible in the massive arena. It’s the last time I try to get a hook up from a client.

The band for the most part sounded solid. I was impressed by the strength of Paul Banks’ voice. It carried easily throughout the space. The songs came off as straightforward renditions, which is fine since the band performed them well. But late in the concert there was a taste of the band riffing an intro into a song and it make me wish that I could’ve heard the band deviate a bit more from the albums.

The show started off with a huge, white screen obscuring the band from the audience for the first two songs. After the opener, I began to wonder if they were going to do that for the entire show. While I’m sure it would’ve been a memorable gimmick, I doubt most of the audience would’ve been content to see a band without actually seeing the band. Of course Pink Floyd pulled it off on their touring for The Wall. But for Interpol, two songs was long enough for the screen, thankfully.

The setlist contained most of the songs I wanted to hear. I was glad to hear “Hands Away” although I missed “Leif Erikson” and “Length of Love”.

Good show overall, but here’s hoping Interpol hasn’t ditched the smaller venues around town.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Webster Hall, 8/7/07

I can admit to being a bit behind the game in acknowledging the fact that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are a great rock band. The New York indie scene was already enraptured with the trio long before I came around to find them. So while last night’s performance at Webster Hall was nothing new to the city, but I had been anxiously awaiting my first chance to see them live.

Of course the first thing any concert-goer will notice is Karen O’s outlandish attire and piercing howls. But I was also amazed at what solid performers the entire band were. I walked in half expecting to hear them loud and distorted yet able to make up for it with raw energy. Instead, their sound was tight without seeming stale or overly rehearsed.

That raw energy was definitely an integral piece of what makes the YYY’s so great. Throughout the concert I could feel Brian’s drumming rattling my chest. While Nick displayed ample chops with his guitar. I love the rail-thin skinny, slightly awkward looking guitar players. Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood fits a similar mold, and I love watching them slump over their guitars while also throwing their bodies around the stage in fits of sonic fury.

This is probably brought on by my own desires to have been in their place.

And of course there’s Karen O, whose onstage persona is well documented by now. I normally hate lead singer theatrics. Watching Coldplay’s Chris Martin reach his hand up into the sky during a dramatic moment in his song always makes me want to retch.

Yet there was something different about Karen’s jumping around, costume changing, water spewing and wild dancing that seems to draw the entire crowd to her. I credit it to the fact that while she looks completely at ease in her own quirky style, she also doesn’t seem to take herself to seriously. Seeing her in a flurry of leather and tinsel could easily be off-putting but often she would look out into the audience with a wide grin spread across her face as if to say to us all "It’s okay. Enjoy it, laugh at it, love it, whatever." She obviously has a good time performing and that’s what I love to see. It was also great to catch Nick look over at her between songs and smile at her antics.

Her voice is an awesome force that has to be heard in person. Her shrieks and snarls bring so much vibrancy to the music that can’t be caught on record. Her vocals were so powerful that near the beginning of the show, I felt myself cringe at a piercing howl and looked up to see that she was only holding her mic at her chest.

There’s an illustration of Karen on their official site that conveys her vocal intensity perfectly...

Not to say she isn’t an accomplished vocal talent. Not once during the night did she seem to struggle to find the right key, hit a high pitch or maintain a low, soft tone.

The band played across their entire repertiore and (of course) the older songs got the biggest reactions. Karen called out their last song by saying that they were "going to go all the way back to 2001", which made me feel a bit old.

I mean, shit, that doesn’t feel so long ago. I just recently realized that OK Computer is 10 years old this year. I was obsessed with Nirvana in high school and that was ‘93.

That’s when it hit me. I felt a lot of similarities between the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Nirvana. The YYY’s can definitely hit the soft/loud drastic shifts that Nirvana mastered, and they both had a vibrancy that blew me away when I discovered each of them. Listening to them made all the other music I was hearing prior to that sound muffled and lifeless.

I enjoyed watching Karen happily interacting with the crowd and seeing the band members come out to tune their own instruments before the show. I get a good sense of them being pretty down-to-earth despite launching into the status of Indie Gods.

I’m pretty sure that a lot of people look up to Karen O in a way not unlike how I idolized Kurt Cobain. I know that if the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were around when I was in high school, they definitely would’ve had a huge impact on my life and my views towards myself like Nirvana did.

Here are a couple of tastings, a bit older, but I love her drastic shift from raw fury to bouncy girlishness:

Art Star

Déjà Vu

Looks like Pitchfork staked out a good position in the front of the concert and obviously employs a much nicer camera than me. Linky.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

California Love

I just recently made a long overdue trip back to California to visit family.

During the time, I got to bask in the warmth of my grandmother’s love again. But I was also outraged that my family already had her name carved out in the space next to my grandfather’s tombstone. I couldn’t believe the nonchalant practicality exhibited by some family members.

And I had my heart broken at the sight of my great aunt, who recently had a major stroke. It was gut-wrenching to see a shell of a person with only slight signs of the loving human being that used to be there.

That said, I had been looking forward to the trip as it had been years since I last visited San Francisco.

It had been so long that it was the first time I would be able to go out drinking with my cousin, Jennifer, even though she’s now 25.

It’s scary to think that, since I only see my cousins in 2-3 year increments, I have only seen them about 5 to 10 times in our entire lives. Even on my flight westward, I had mental images of them as preteen brats despite the fact that most of them were in college now.

Jennifer was the one I was especially looking forward to see again. From random updates via my parents, I recently had an epiphany that she and I were very much alike. Looking back, I began to regret how whenever I saw my family, it was inevitable that I would desperately try to spend every minute with her older brother, Will.

Will had always been the kind of guy I wanted to be. Athletic, good-looking, outgoing, self-sufficient and a natural leader. His being the oldest of all the cousins sort of gave him de facto position as the leader of us all, but it was also in his genes. And I was always the loyal follower. He was the brother I never had. He was a cool guy, older than me and willing to hang out with me.

Will also had an incredible talent for mischief which resulted in many of my cousins risking bodily harm and basically doing stupid shit that got us (Will in particular) in trouble with our parents.

The last few trips to San Fran, I noticed that he wasn’t around as much anymore. He had discovered a knack and desire to coach girls volleyball. At the time, I dramatized him as abandoning his role model position in our clan of cousins in order to guide strangers. But I also began to see how our cousins never really saw each other anyway, except for whenever I came into town.

While Will’s absence saddened me, it also gave me the chance to spend more time with Jennifer. It dawned on me that most of my trips, Will was working or out of town anyway, and that I probably spent as much time (or more) with her than with Will. During those days, she and I would watch TV, order pizza, play video games, and go to the mall, all the while I was counting the seconds until Will came home. I never really gave Jenn the time of day. And throughout those times she would be pining desperately to hang out with Will and I, even though we were constantly trying to chase her away.

This particular trip was a turning point in that it was the first time that I was looking forward to spending time with Jenn more than with Will.

Will was unexpectedly around the first night so the three of us plus Will’s girlfriend hit the bars. It was one of the best times I’d had in a long time. We took shots and drank ourselves stupid, and it was very satisfying.

I discovered the joy in partying with my own flesh and blood. Sure I have very close friends who I view as brothers, but this was something that they could never achieve. It felt like a primal connection that, as an only child, I never had before.

And while Will went off to shoot darts with his girlfriend, I sat next to Jenn and had a blast, laughing and talking. Although I was too drunk to remember any of our conversation.

By the end of the night, Jenn had passed out while we were at the drive-thru only stirring enough to plop onto Will’s couch. I managed to joke with Will’s girlfriend, somehow mow down a burger, notice that Will was snoring in his bedroom and finally collapse onto the floor in front of Jenn on the couch.

I woke up to my cell phone at 8 am. It was my mom. She angrily asked where I was. Then worriedly asked if Jenn was with me. Then demanded that I get back because my dad was waiting for me so we could go wine-tasting in Napa. It was 8 am.

I eventually got to spend some time with each of my cousins, even taking out my 15 and 18 year old cousins out bowling, demanding that they stay in their tiaras and dresses. (Not worth getting into the tiaras at this point.)

After all these years, it was nice to really formulate each one of them as an individual. Some were just starting to come out of their shells, and others were still in the awkward, shy teen years. I wish I hadn’t missed out on all the years before.

It turns out that Jenn has a slight interest towards living in New York. Once I found that out, I tried my best to sell her on the greatness of this city. I was excited at the prospect of having her close by. I saw it as an opportunity to get to know someone that I basically consider as my sister.

Alas, it probably won’t happen. She loves California and being close to her parents too much. And her parents would probably hunt me down for convincing her to move away. I almost fell out of their good graces already by getting her to call in sick to work so that we could party more.

I just hope I can keep in touch with her and my other cousins, and that it won’t be another five years until I see them again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Boston Pig Party

I was fortunate enough to have the chance to attend the 2nd Pig Roast Party held by friends in Boston and it definitely lived up to the hype.

Take a 125 lb pig on a spit, 100+ people, 3 live bands, 8 trays of mac and cheese, a pyramid of cornbread, free ice cream from the ice cream truck camped out in the front drive, a hot tub, and an obscene amount of alcohol, and you’ve got a recipe for a crazy good time.

The pig required over 12 hours of roasting over a spit, which meant that it had to be started at 3:30 am and be rotated every fifteen minutes.

I was a newcomer to this group, but was welcomed with open arms. A testament to everyone’s laid-back friendliness was that the neighbor's kids (4 and 5 yr olds) wandered over early in the day and were not only welcomed into the party but taken care of throughout the day. At no point did I witness anyone react in a manner that was less than great with the kids.

Best/Strange Moments:

- Wii Tournament, watching the spastic flailing of limbs instead of watching the screen. I’m also secure enough with myself to admit that I lost to two girls in Wii Boxing. (But I rocked the house in Wii Bowling.)

- Two girls screaming at 3 am, wondering "Oh my God, where are Jenna and Jenna?! They wouldn’t just leave us, would they? They’re sooo lame!"

- Parallel parking in front of the Thirsty Scholar in a giant white van with blue racing stripes with all the smokers gawking as we hop out of the monstrosity.

- Having a bit of a Little Miss Sunshine moment with said van while it died on every hill and inched forward with people jumping out to push it along the two lane highway.

- Standing near a guy and a girl and overhearing this conversation:

Guy: "Did you see that they stuck the pig’s head on a spike?"

Girl: "Oh yeah? Kind of a Lord of the Flies tribute?"

Guy: "Uh, I don’t think I ever saw that movie."

Girl: "It’s a book."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Germ warfare

I don’t consider myself a hypochondriac or OCD cleanly. I can apathetically step over dog poop on the sidewalks, workout next to the guy who refuses to apply deodorant before going to the gym, and I can see someone vomiting on the street without it causing me to lose my lunch.

But one thing does really bother me: sneezing.

Okay, bear with me.

I remember years ago seeing some cold or flu commercial claiming that when someone sneezes, the force at which mucus and whatever propels out of the nose and mouth can equal 100 mph. They demonstrated this by showing a person sneezing in a crowded elevator, and having animated particles shooting out of the person’s oraface, bouncing around the walls and landing all over the other people standing in the elevator.

This animated 30-second commercial has haunted me for the last 10 years.

Fortunately, I haven’t been caught in that scenario yet (knock on wood). But I am 100% sure that when that fateful day comes, I’m going to lose my shit. I’m talking a Cold War duck-and-cover reaction, and I’m not discounting the possibility of hysterical screaming.

I live in freaking New York City, one of the most densely crowded, dirty cities in America. People here can drink their SmartWater, eat their all-natural Guy and Gallaird salads all they want. None of that curbs my amazement that there’s such a low frequency of people simply keeling over on the street and dying.

All I’m saying is we can all do little things like covering our freaking mouths when we sneeze. Try to deflect that 100 mph germy spray from other people.

Granted, the elevator deathtrap sneeze is a low risk occurrence. So here’s another, more pressing issue on my mind: people eating on the subway trains.

Can someone tell me who in their right mind wants to consume their food in the most rank, disgustingly dirty place in the city? The environment is composed of garbage, homeless people, rats and roaches, yet someone will still willingly bring on a bag of fast food and eat it like their dining in Bryant Park.

I can admit to occasionally being enticed by the smell of fries and forgo common nutritional sense to give in to a fast food craving. In the right context, they can smell great. But if I smell that same smell walking onto a train, it can be worse than feces.

But I know it’s not just the smell of fries. Just last week I sat across from a young, normal looking, professionally dressed woman who, as the train began to move, busted out her Whole Foods salad bar box and began munching on her salad. The sight of this began to make my stomach churn.

I’m sure some people are wondering what’s the big deal? I think that, like the sneezing thing, my mind is working on a microscopic level. Just because your food hasn’t touched the floor of the subway train, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been defiled by the environment.

I once stood in a station and had a cockroach the length of my middle finger fly and land on my neck. I’ve waited for a train and watch rats drink from a black puddle of grime with a half of a dead rat floating in it.

The subway is a dirty, dirty place.

Can we all just practice a little restraint and hold off on the consumption of food until we get topside?

If not then I propose that the MTA attendants should be instructed to expand their inspections beyond firearms and other weapons.

“Excuse me, sir. Are you carrying any firearms? How about explosives? Okay fine. Wait, what’s in the bag? Mickey-Dee’s? Okay sir, you’re going to have to come with me.”

I think the world would be a better place for it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


(The following rant contains spoiler info...)

So I just finished watching a rather disappointing Spiderman 3. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I honestly tried not to get too hyped about it.

I’m not going to go into a full review, but one thing particularly bothered me...

So Peter Parker gets full of himself goes to show off in front of his girlfriend while she’s at work, humiliates her, beats up some guys trying to come to her aid, and then actually hits her! Later on, he waltzes right back into the same bar, she hugs him and all is forgiven. (Cue end credits.)

That’s great for the movie, I guess, since we’re all on Spiderman’s side.

But try to think about if this scene happened in real life. If I was a coworker or friend and found out Mary Jane took the creep back, I’d be thinking, “The stupid bitch just took back that future wife-beater?! Has she no self-respect?”

I’m sure everyone knows some girl who dates “an asshole” who she constantly defends as a nice guy. Don’t we all end up dismissing her claims, thinking that she’s blinded by some mysterious need to cling on to the guy and that she’s better off ditching him ASAP?

Even if the guy acts like a cool person around other people, even if he never acts out of line again, even if he’s swinging around and pulling people out of flaming buildings, wouldn’t we all still have a hard time erasing the perception of him as “that dickhead who hits chicks”?

Maybe I’m too unforgiving of a person. But I know plenty of people who have had the same reaction to friends’ boyfriends. I’m thinking, once a wife-beater, always a wife-beater. So if in Spiderman 4, Peter Parker goes back to his abusing ways, Mary Jane better not come crying to me.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Spring in New York makes the shitty winters worthwhile (...almost).

While sitting inside the perimeter of the fountain in Washington Square Park watching kids gingerly walk in knee high water, I noticed two girls throwing a beach ball to each other over the spraying water in the middle.

The two began to egg each other to not throw the ball over, but into shooting water to see the ball get propelled upward in what surely had to be a magnificent sight.

But the two shrieked in wide-eyed horror as the ball failed to jet up into the sky, instead sank immediately into the center of the gushing water.

I laughed at their expressions and noticed that others around me were also enjoying this moment.

I can’t imagine this shared experience in any other place that I’ve lived in. As much as I love Texas, there’s almost no incentive to be in such close proximity to strangers, except when you have to.

Don’t get me wrong, constantly being around annoying, dirty, loud people can be maddening. But days like today are the subtle joys that I don’t want to overlook.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Arcade Fire at United Palace Theatre, 5/7/07

Tonight, I was lucky enough to catch the Arcade Fire perform their first of three back to back shows in New York.

The United Palace Theatre was an interesting venue, with almost every inch of the walls and ceiling covered in ornate moldings and sculptures. But later, I figured that it seemed to mesh well with the ten piece band and their menagerie of instruments. I was initially wary of attending at a seated venue, but I further realized that the band fit this place like a glove. I can’t think of another band that I would’ve been content to go see at a seated venue.

The stage lighting was amazing, yet simple, utilizing neon lighting to match their latest cover album art. It was a great way to set the tone of the concert.

As for the band, they played with intense enthusiasm and energy throughout the set. Their exaggerated instrument playing, feet stomping and dancing could be easily viewed as cheesy and contrived, but seeing the entire band into the music seemed to fuel the audience. Besides, who doesn’t like seeing someone wail on a xylophone? I’d prefer watching musicians play with pure joy than to see a band who act as if they're too cool to play their own songs.

I usually enjoy hearing a band interact with the audience, but oddly preferred it if the members hadn’t spoken through the show. It’s as if I thought they were interrupting the performance somehow or breaking the fourth wall (to use film terminology).

The band created so much energy that it was hard to find any downfalls in their performance. I love listening to their albums, but now they’ll pale in comparison to the live act. Each song sounded ten times more vibrant and intense than the recorded version.

Rebellion, Power Out and Windowstill were the most inspired performances. Neon Bible, the title track to their latest release, was one that I personally enjoyed immensely, mostly because that song has been going through my head for the past few weeks.

Ironically, Tunnels, probably their most well known song was the loosest one of the night. But perhaps they’re like most band who tire of their signature songs (i.e. Smells Like Teen Spirit or Creep). Not to say that it wasn’t well done, but the audience’s enthusiasm for the tune definitely carried the band through the rendition more so than any other time during the night.

At the end of the night, everyone filed out of the theatre obviously still buzzing from the show. I have to say it was probably one of the most amazing, energetic concerts I’ve been to. Probably on par with Thievery Corporation and Gomez, my other favorite live acts.

It’s strange to discover that the Arcade Fire aren’t as popular as I initially believed. Virtually none of my friends have heard of them, and the few that do didn’t really care for their albums. Not too surprising I guess since no one seems to share my taste in music.

I will definitely try to get my hands on a live recording or two of the Arcade Fire, but for now...

Rebellion - by far their best live song IMHO.

Neon Bible - showing that they can do the soft stuff just as well.

NOTE: I was a little bummed to find out that I’d miss an impromptu Yeah Yeah Yeahs performance tonight, but since I wouldn’t have been able to get in (as it was a chicks only concert), I’m not shedding too many tears.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Greener Gotham?

Over the years, I’ve become much more sensitive to and interested in the progress of energy sources and energy consumption.

Maybe it’s from using, and loving, the city’s mass transit system. Except when I have to sit next to one of the "crazies".

Or maybe it’s because I lived in the East Village and saw the neverending mounds of garbage as a depiction of how wasteful the city is.

Or maybe I’ve been working in several Manhattan design studios that don’t recycle and have seen how we rip through reams of paper so casually and thoughtlessly.

Or maybe it’s seeing how our dependance on archaic energy sources is shaping our governmental policy in horrible ways.

However this interest developed, it’s always heartening to find out that some people are very commited to finding alternative energy sources (as noted in several past posts) or just diligently doing their part by recycling and conserving.

Last week’s New York Magazine caught my attention with an article about the possibilities of urban farming (or skyfarming) as a way to maintain a metropolitan society while also reversing the trend of environmental degradation.

Imagining greener and cleaner buildings that could produce farm crops, purify waste and generate energy sounds like a far off utopian dream, but it’s nice to hear some optimism for once.

There was speculation that this might be the next version of Biodomes that everyone of us heard about far too often in elementary school. That reference helped pierce the illustion of skyfarming a bit. So it could possibly amount to nothing more than a scientist’s wet dream. After all, the technology, time and resources it would take to make a building like this a reality seems too daunting for anyone to invest in.

But it all starts with an idea, right?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rice Krispy Feat

Once in a while I’ll give into an indulgence, whether it’s a new CD, clothes, or in last week’s case, a rice krispy treat during lunch.

It was a complete impulse purchase at the checkout counter. I don’t even like rice krispy treats. But my turkey breast wrap was already looking unappetizing so I knew I’d need something sweet to offset it.

Later, as I unwrapped my "treat", my initial reservations gave way to outright dread as I noticed that the thing was huge. It was seriously the size of a brick. I held it at a few angles to figure out how I was going to even bite the block seeing as how it was too big to fit into my mouth.

Normally, I’d appreciate the more-bang-for-my-buck aspect, especially since Guy and Gallard raped me at $2.95. But when I indulge in a guilty pleasure, I’d prefer to be a bit discreet about it. So as I held a clump of marshmallows and sugar the size of a small child’s head near my face, I began looking around to see if anyone was watching me with horrified expressions.

The fact that the rice krispy treat ended up tasting stale and processed didn’t appease me either. I tossed it after two bites.

Lesson learned: No more rice krispy treats, and that Guy and Gallard is over-priced AND over-rated.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Badly Drawn Boy at Webster Hall, 3/7/07

There are just some people whose talents are unmistakable. Whether it’s in sports, art or whatever, you watch that person and you immediately get that there's an innate ability that has to be utilitzed. I firmly believe that Badly Drawn Boy (aka Damon Gough) has a natural talent to create fucking great melodies.

As I watched him tonight at Webster Hall in the East Village, I rediscovered what drew me to his music in the first place. There’s nothing pretentious about him or his music. He does it because there’s something within him that comes out naturally.

The music may not be avant garde but it’s classic and melodic that will always make it accessible. (I’m picturing a scene in The Sopranos where a music engineer is berating an up-and-coming band, "Where are the fucking choruses?!")

It reminds me of listening to Murray Lightburn of the Dears, who sounds as if he’s singing just to hear how awesome his vibrato is. Gough seems so laid back about his performance, yet without coming across apathetic or lax. I hear the scraggly voice and see his everyday outfit and can easily picture him stumbling out of a bus station to perform on the sidewalk.

Gough also strikes me as the kind of guy who isn’t comfortable with the public exposure of a popular musician. Still, he appears to be able to take it in stride and not lashing out like Kurt Cobain or being paralyzed with terror like Nick Drake. Perhaps Gough’s had enough years to learn how to deal with it.

His ability to connect with the audience was evident throughout the night, being quite talkative at times. He would quip about how great it is to be able to perform in New York or make the audience laugh by introducing a song that he wrote "that turned into a b-side because it was absolute shit".

There were a few breakdowns in the concert wherein he would call off the other players saying "that was shit" and immediately moving on to another song. None of the incidents were particularly obstrusive, certainly not in the specatular fashion of Cat Power’s live meltdowns, but it was an insight into his perfectionist/artistic nature.

I have to admit that I’ve always given Badly Drawn Boy the short end of the stick. While always enjoying his music, I’ve never given it the proper adulation. I met each album release with less enthusiasm, only to discover its brilliance months to years later. I’ve doubted whether or not his Mercury prize winning effort was a fluke, and was skeptical that he could pull of an entire soundtrack to a film, only to be proven wrong every time.

Even this concert was attended on a whim rather than true excitement. Maybe that’s the curse of being consistently excellent: no one ever really notices because they learn to just expect it from you. But maybe that’s exactly how Gough likes it. He has been able to skim that fine line of not being mainstream, while being popular enough to allow him to go on doing what he wants.

And judging from tonight, Badly Drawn Boy can draw a sizeable enthusiastic crowd. It shows that great music will always find an audience, even if it’s overshadowed by the latest trend.

While you may not win any points with your snobby hipster friends, a night out with Badly Drawn Boy is pretty fucking enjoyable. And I’m fully back on the bandwagon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

HOT GIRL HOT GIRL HOT GIRL HOT GIRL (oh yeah and some movie about cops and mobsters)

One of the better flicks I’ve seen in a while is Infernal Affairs, a Chinese production that was the basis for Scorsese’s The Departed.

The movie was well crafted, had big name Chinese actors, and a great tense moments, but apparently that wasn’t good enough for the film’s promoters.

Check out the cover of the DVD packaging, which features a gun-toting girl in a tight outfit... that doesn’t appear in the movie at all. Oh and the guys in the background? Those are the two “stars” of the film.

Sadly, this cover coupled with the cheesy name was destined to cause this movie to be passed over on the shelves of Blockbusters as some low grade B-movie. But luckily, given the new attention due to The Departed, there’s been a rerelease with a much more respectable cover image.

I’m interested to see how Scorsese has adapted the story. But judging from the reviews, he likely did a damn fine job.

Although I will say that I lost a lot of respect for Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky after seeing how much was directly lifted from the original, Abre Los Ojos.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Review: Beatles Love

I know, I know, another Beatles compilation. But what caught my attention this time around was that George Martin and his son were asked to remix a score for a Cirque de Soleil show. The producers were given freedom to basically mash up any track from the entire collection of released music. The result was a bit surprising, and a bit disappointing.

When hearing the premise, I thought what probably everyone else thought, "This can only be a spectacular disaster."

But upon hearing a clip, I was amazed to hear how effortlessly songs meshed together. Come Together, Dear Prudence and Cry Baby Cry are blended together as if they were always meant to be.

I purchased the album and began listening with a sense of unfamiliarity and anticipation that I hadn’t experienced with a Beatles album since skipping a class in high school and listening to Rubber Soul for the first time. (I’m a rebel, I know.)

The liner notes claimed that they restricted themselves to only the material that can be found on the final releases (except one), but I’m pretty sure that the Strawberry Fields version was from the Anthology collection, so I’m not sure how truthful their claim is.

There are some impressive technical achievements in this collection, but for the most part, I was disappointed. Most of the remixing was confined to creating smooth transitions between tracks. When the songs that were more heavily tinkered with came up, I found myself uneasy, as if mentally trying to reconstruct the songs back into their original arrangements.

In the end, this release is an interesting twist that shows how versatile and enduring the Fab Four’s music can be, but will probably fail to impact anyone other than the already die-hard fans.

Here’s what I believe is the most interesting and successful track, so judge for yourself...

Beatles - Drive My Car

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In the iPod

Today’s Mix:

1. Cha Cha Cha - The Little Ones
2. Pretend It’s a Race and I’m on Your Side - James Figurine
3. Culture Vulture - The Librarians
4. Baby I’m Yours - Arctic Monkeys
5. A Modern Girl - Sing-Sing
6. I Turn My Camera On - Spoon
7. I Can Hear Music - The Beach Boys
8. Whoo! Alright-Yeah... Uh Huh - The Rapture
9. Warrior - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Gaming isn’t a game anymore

Video games have become such a huge market that companies are pumping billions of dollars into the production and marketing of their products. Gears of War uses cutting edge CGI in its commercials, Marlon Brando reprises his role in the Godfather video game and companies such as Toyota and Coca-cola are creating virtual products in Second Life which you actually pay for with real money.

Shrewd corporate strategies weren’t always the norm though. has a hilarious set of feature articles reminiscing about the early years of the gaming industry when no one knew what the hell they were doing, especially in advertising.

I remember seeing some of these ads when they first appeared and now wonder how I wasn’t frightened away from playing video games because of them.

Of course I wasn’t the design savvy, cerebral giant that I am today. [insert sarcasm smiley]

Check out this classic ad from 1991:

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Have-Nots

Every New Yorker wants to persuade you that the capital of consumer lifestyle can offer you anything to your heart’s desire, but I just have to scoff at that idea.

The notion of bouncing from one bodega to another on New Year’s Eve searching for bags of ice wasn’t the ideal New York experience, but that’s exactly what happened. I’d duck my head just inside the door and ask “Do you sell any ice?” only to get blank stares from the guys behind the counter.

Yeah I know that at one point in time if you wanted ice you had to carry a block five miles from the next town over, but come on guys! Aren’t we supposed to have advanced since then? Weren’t we supposed to have Mr. Fusion cars and weather control by now?

If I wanted chess pieces shaped like Lord of the Rings characters, there’s an entire street in Greenwich dedicated to that. But oh my God, ice?!

The misconception in Manhattan is that there are so many stores jammed into the streets that you can find absolutely anything. The problem is that every store carries the same damn thing.

I’m sure that everyone’s had that wild goose chase around town to find a weird, obscure item. It’s just that in New York it’s much more impossible to hunt down your 5/17” drill bit or Japan-based soy sauce.

Booze and smokes I have no problem finding.