Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I don’t know what it is, but I just haven’t been able to find much these days that really catches my... um, ear. I’ve been resorting to a lot of stuff in my established collection such as Asteroids Galaxy Tour, Buena Vista Social Club, the Clash, David Bowie, and Hercules and Love Affair.

The ambient, chill-out feel of Seventh Tree is beautiful and hypnotic but I still love the up-tempo Supernature. Favorites have to be Ride on a White Horse and Ooh La La, but I love every song on that album.

Grizzly Bear
I’ve only heard their latest album, Veckatimist, but I like what I hear. They seem more of a traditional setup for a band, not employing so much electronica, which is sometimes refreshing in today’s scene. Two Weeks is my favorite which, of course, has a great harmony hook.

Juana Molina
An Argentenian singer/song-writer that has surprising elements in her songs. Vivé Solo starts off as serene and pastoral, then becomes an interesting beat of scatting, shouting and clapping. Dar is another excellent example of the somewhat sparse sound, layered with her voice and a driving yet subtle beat.

TV on the Radio
I wasn’t too impressed with this band until their recent release, Dear Science. I was able to see them live at Central Park Summer Stage, which is a terrible venue... especially in a down pour. Their latest album is an array of different sounds that really grabbed my attention. Golden Age and Shout Me Out are stand out tracks.

The Phenomenal Handclap Band
I’m still very new to this band, but think that they will be a group that you’ll hear a lot about once their debut album is released. They’ve been getting rave reviews for their energetic live shows and I can easily imagine them from the album. The songs are bursting with enthusiasm. The sound recalls 60’s prog rock and some disco. I want to list sound influences but honestly, each song on the album seems to be rooted in a different band. Sometimes they sound like The Doors, and one song I swear is a long-lost Foghat tune. You have to hear the album for yourself, particularly 15 to 20 (which Ting Tings fans will love).

David Byrne
I was lucky enough to see David Byrne play a free show in Prospect Park and I was reawakened to his genius. The guy puts on a seriously good show; very entertaining and vibrant. Since then I’ve been combing through his collection and needless to say, I’m a fan. I hope I age as well as this guy has.

There’s a place in my heart for these guys, but I can’t deny the decline of their music over the years. Their first two, maybe three albums were incredibly fresh and diverse. But since then, they’ve catered more and more to safe, radio music. Their latest release, A New Tide, is such a disappointment for me that I didn’t even bother importing it into my iTunes. A sad day indeed.

Fiery Furnaces
Another band that I gave a lot of goodwill towards for the sheer genius of prior releases. Blueberry Boat and Gallowsbird’s Bark were works of art. But practically everything since has been an exercise in tolerance. It doesn’t help that they pump out so much music that you lose any excitement over hearing their name. I usually pine for as much music I can get from a band I like, but in this case, there can be too much of a good(?) thing.


An area where I’m probably not ashamed of saying that I haven’t had too much exposure in lately...

I just want this series to be over, and with some sense of satisfaction. My roommate sat in on one episode and said “Oh! This is THE episode about the plane crash. Cool.” And I had to explain “Um... No, this is ANOTHER plane that all the main characters get on, that is going to crash. On the same island. And there’s time travel. And unexplained ghosts/appearances of characters.” It’s a show that’s managed to pile on the crazy just slow enough to not make it noticeable until you sit up and recount everything that’s happened. Sigh, only one season left, I can make it.

Mad Men
The most highly praised show in recent history among my friends. I have to say that the accolades probably sullied my opinion of the show. The bar was just set too high. Being a part of the advertising world is a double-edged sword for me. In some ways, I like that a show is giving exposure to things that I do, and yet, I felt somewhat insulted by the lack of effort at their jobs. In the pilot episode, the main character at the last second comes up with the entire ad campaign, pulling ideas out of his ass. Okay, so sometimes inspiration hits you like a lightning bolt, but I would’ve rather the world see how much thought and effort goes into coming up with solutions for clients. I guess the argument is that that doesn’t exactly make for exciting television. And the blatant sexism and racism in the show is somewhat off-putting. I know it’s a reflection of the era, but it’s such a heavy element of the show that it seems glorified. I gotta say though, that I love the ties and suits. We lost something in the times of polo shirts and khakis.

Strangers with Candy
A friend let me borrow her DVD collection and I have to say that this show is brilliant. I admit that I didn’t pay attention to the show when it aired, I’d like to say mainly because TV just wasn’t my focus at the time. But I probably wouldn’t have fully appreciated what the show was about. A dark satire way before it became the accepted norm, this show is still surprisingly cutting and off-beat. Genius is never understood in it’s day.

The Office
What can I say, I still love this show. No, it doesn’t seem as fresh as it did a few years ago and probably gets overshadowed by the brilliant 30 Rock, but I have such a soft spot for The Office and can’t fully explain why. I recently viewed the BBC version again and noticed how the NBC show has migrated so far from it over the years. Most noticeable is how more vibrant the color palate has become and the characters more joyous. The stories have gotten more sitcom-y and outrageous, which is disappointing, and the monotony of work that pervaded through the BBC version is lost. You don’t get cutaways to fax machines and people simply working anymore and I miss that. But the writing and humor are still top-notch, if not in an altered way. I’m a fan of the Jim and Pam characters, even though they’re more tailored to the safe, wholesome ideals of American television heroes. I’m impressed that the writers have managed to maintain the interest of the relationship long after the “will they, wont they” tension that most shows live and die by. Equally admirable is the show’s history of never being afraid to shake things up. Placing Jim out of the office in Season 3 was a bold, risky move and it’s hard to imagine many other shows with the guts to make it happen. The show generally pulls back into the status quo, but I’m interested in seeing where they put Pam in the next season. Plus, Jenna Fischer is just so hot.


Another area of neglect. I used to take part in the Gallery Openings in Chelsea which salved my cultured side but haven’t been able to make it to any exhibitions in a while.

Aernout Mik at the MoMA
Impressive video installations of various stagings, shown in multiple angles. At times overwhelming, it was nonetheless interesting to view a scene in an almost omniscient perspective. In media, we’re so used to being shown the focus of an event or scene that when presented with an un-narrated view it feels foreign. The viewer is left to decide where to focus attention and which story and character to follow. Multiple things are unfolding in each environment and each subject has his or her own trajectory. Reflective of our world, where we each play the lead role in our tale but take part in an interwoven, larger mesh of stories.

Into the Sunset at the MoMA
An expansive exhibit highlight photography in the Western U.S. Although impressive, this show just felt unfocused to me, probably due to the sheer magnitude of the artists, subjects and styles. The goal seemed to be more about grandiose scale. Still, it was worth a look.

Tangled Alphabets at the MoMA
I wanted to be more impressed with this show than I actually was. As a designer, I have a special reverence for typography and it’s symbolic power, but left the exhibit feeling unfulfilled.

I have yet to view the Pictures Generation exhibit at the Met, which I am highly anticipating. A photography collection centered around New York artists.


I shamefully admit to have not been reading much lately...

The highly praised final work of Roberto Bolaño. It’s an engrossing, slow burn of a read, that I was drawn into, but somehow got sidetracked. Divided into four parts, I only reached the middle of the third section which chronicles the grisly deaths of young girls. I think that’s what did me in. I was reading the book in the evenings before bed and this section really fucked with my head to the point where I couldn’t sleep and had to stop reading. I need and want to finish the book, which I’ll try to undertake next week.

I’ve been in dire need of catching up on the genius of David Sedaris so started with this one. How can he so masterfully portray his life of quirky, dysfunctional behavior in such an entertaining, humorous way? I feel that if I undertook this, I’d just come off as sad and disturbing.

The Fountainhead
Another in the long line of books that I just inexplicably missed out on in my past. This book was actually the perfect thing for me to read when recently laid off. The exploits of an artistic genius who unflinchingly faces obstacles and adversaries, and comes out triumphant with his soul and integrity intact definitely inspires a person like me. I’ve fought several artistic battles in previous jobs and have always suffered with the mediocre compromised “solutions” so can cheer on a character like Rourke, even though he’s an obviously idealized image of man. As romantic as the story is, I have to wonder how successful his approach would be in the real world. This book merits multiple readings, especially at times of waivering on my beliefs and goals.


Star Trek
Okay, I admit that I enjoyed this flick. My dad was really gung-ho about seeing it, in IMAX no less. It was a good, fun movie that treated the existing canon with some reverence while being unafraid of putting it’s own spin things. I’ve discovered that casual viewers liked it much more than the fans. There were definitely parts of the plot that made no sense to the point of insulting my intelligence. And maybe that’s the biggest crime against the fans, who were always drawn to the brainier aspects of the shows.

My cousin was really gung-ho about seeing it, and I wish I could go back in time to punch him in the face for it. Insanely stupid, and saddening to know that it was a blockbuster hit. Sigh.

Wow. I started it with a friend who basically apologized in advance, saying it was probably going to be slow and boring. Yet I found it to be a great, interesting story, with superb acting. I’ve always had a soft spot for History and really got into the story. It showed Nixon in a new light for me, and reaffirmed my belief that politicians, no matter how slimy they seem, are often very charismatic and charming people when seen up close.

Man on Wire
Like Frost/Nixon, what could’ve been a relatively straight-forward and dull account of an event, was expertly portrayed. There was tension and suspense (sorry no tight-rope walking puns intended) to the manner in which the film unfolded.

Even in a tight financial situation, I couldn’t pass up seeing a Pixar movie. As usual they not only deliver, but manage to amaze me with emotional storytelling. The actual plot and action portions didn’t exactly impress me but the sheer amount of emotion that Pixar managed to invoke within me caught me by surprise.

Manhattan/Annie Hall
I finally finally saw these Woody Allen movies and have to say that I missed out by not seeing them years ago. I enjoyed Annie Hall more, particularly Diane Keaton’s luminous performance. I feel primed to see Whatever Works now, but am worried that the criticism of Woody Allen’s filmmaking decline will be much more noticeable to me after seeing these two great films.

Blah Blah Blog

Whew. So much happens in a month, which is probably reflected in the neglect of this blog. Turning 30, getting laid off... These things tend to hog my time.

I contemplated 30 as a pivotal point, including deliberating over abandoning this blog that I’ve kept for several years. It’s seen me through a lot, but at the same time, I considered whether or not it would feel appropriate to help me “move onwards” by letting it go, like my 20’s.

The fact of it is that this was always intended to be a personal forum and not exactly something to broadcast to others. Yet something happened over time; the blog became much less anonymous and therefore less personal. In reviewing the past few posts, I had definitely steered away from personal issues and more towards just tidbits of news and entertainment. I still feel that it’s a valuable mode of expression for me, since I enjoy how it allows me to formulate more complete opinions about the music and whatnot I get exposed to. But I miss the journal aspect of it. I had forgotten much of the older content so was pleasantly surprised to rediscover what is probably my favorite post of the blog: Toy Story.

I haven’t figured out definitively the fate of this blog. I may let it fizzle out, or it may live on as the less personal review site.

For now, there seems to be a backlog of music, movies and such that I want to just unload out of my mind so that’s what the next few posts will feature.

Monday, June 01, 2009


The animation style on the new Beatles Rock Band trailer is beautiful. I love the stylized look of the guys, especially their elongated figures.