Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Rosebuds -- Blind Pig, 5/29/07

In an earlier post I took on Sasha Frere-Jones' hypothetical alter ego and commented on the state of indie rock. Last night I went to the Rosebuds' show at the Blind Pig, and was reminded anew why I care about the whole indie scene to begin with. You see, A2--like many college towns, I suppose--has been emptied of its sheepskin boots and Hollister t-shirts. It's just me, Sugarpockets, some other bar exam preppers, a few undergrad summer-schoolers, and the locals. (After four years, I've discovered there are some.) Given the depopulation of this place, the show, as expected, was maybe a quarter-full. 'Pockets and I pulled up stools right to the front of the stage and sat and watched. There wasn't much cigarette smoke. No elbows to the ribs. No obscured lines of sight. Just a band playing its heart out and a few appreciative souls. And that's why indie rock has flourished like it has: You can come to know intimately the band you love.

The Rosebuds--whose latest effort is a light disco-pop-tinged affair with melifluous lyrics, jangly guitars, and catchy keyboards--have been playing to packed houses throughout their current tour, but if they were disappointed with last night's showing, there was no telling. Ivan, the limping frontman, a guy whose principal interests are basketball and rocking out--they're mine too, but unlike him I engage with them from the comfort of my couch--strolled around the bar during the opening act, mingling with the little people. It was the strangest thing. He wasn't an aloof rock star. Eventually, he came our way, and I told him how 'Pockets wanted "Shake Our Tree" (below) to be our wedding song. He was clearly distressed by the undanceablity of the choice, but was flattered, talked to me about WXDU, and agreed that it's a drag getting old (and being at indie rock shows).

Then he and his wife/co-conspirator Kelly and the rest of the band played their set. At the end, Ivan grabbed a guitar, Kelly got her moraccas, and they moved all of us to the back hallway and opened up the doors. They closed the show with an acoustic version of "Shake Our Tree," which they dedicated to me and 'Pockets. Then they manned the t-shirt stands, and 'Pockets and I strolled home along an empty Main Street, thankful we're not the kind of people who think the pinnacle of live entertainment is 80-dollar nosebleeds at Madison Square Garden.

The Rosebuds -- Shake Our Tree.mp3

The Rosebuds -- Get up Get Out.mp3

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

day late and a dollar short

instead of buying a mattress or some sheets to celebrate the american military's formidable sacrifice, i hung out with commenter collin, who was visiting from ventura country. for whatever reason, we began listening to "feelin' on yo booty," one of r. kelly's greats (and let's face it: aren't they all). then collin reminded me of dave chappelle's "piss on you" and the "piss on you remix."

i was very late to the chappelle bandwagon. after every frat boy and middle american had laughed themselves silly to "the race draft," "i know black people" and countless other greats, i caught wind of his show. in fact, my first exposure to the chappelle show occurred when i was studying outside at some AA rooftop cafe with c4ts and this girl sitting by herself kept yelling to the street below, "whut??" then inevitably some drunken fool would holler back, "okay!" then c4ts had to explain, at length, the significance of this call-and-response.

anyway, this post isn't some lengthy discourse on the comedy/impact/psychological underpinnings of the chappelle show. that shit is seriously funny. and stands the test of time.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ready to Make Nice?

Ahmadinejad and Bush not quite BFF, but pass notes to each other in Study Hall.

Donald Trump Does Not Shop at Ikea

So, I just turned on the TV to look for the basketball game and came across A.C. Slater announcing to the world--or, at least, to Una Latina and her ilk--the Miss Universe finalists: ladies from India, Brazil, Angola, Japan, Tanzania, Korea, Nicaragua, Mexico, Venezuela, and--because, well, the judges know who marinates their steaks--USA were called to the fore.

What's interesting is that every single one of the ten is a woman of color. Knowing nothing about beauty pageants, and refusing to learn--as I've now switched to the Deron Williams show--I ask this: Obviously, the competition is sexist and antiquated--I'm talking to you swimsuit portion--but do these results reflect some sort of strange societal progress? Is the world--or at least Tony Romo and his compadres --finally coming to realize that the combination of white, blonde, and Scandinavian is for many of us the least interesting component in the spectrum of women's beauty? Is the majority embracing my ideas about the female aesthetic ideal? Or is this gender, race and sexuality intersecting in troubling and typical ways? Is Miss Universe mainstreaming the historical fetishization of female bodies with black, brown and other hues? Is that why the swimsuits are jungle-themed? Wtfuck?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

don't i know you from somewhere?

i sometimes like to watch law & order at the gym in my office building. i know, i leave my desk so i can learn more about law? i just can't get enough. sam waterston, that is. (jerry orbach, RIP. i loved you as lumiere in beauty and the beast. and thanks for donating your eyes to NYC).

a guest star on this episode reminded me of an old worry of mine: whatever happened to that other guy on bosom buddies? is he haunted by his former co-star's 2 oscars? do these thoughts drive him to drink? what about tubbs? does he think about crockett? how about ruben studdard?

anyway, remember in the company of men, starring dreamboat (despite chin dimple and his being a woman-hatin' mormon) aaron eckhart and that guy who looked like a bald version of mark linn-baker? turns out that guy played some sort of forensics expert on a few eps of L&O the original. okay, so it preceded his co-starring turn as a misogynistic salesman, but i'm just sayin': whatever happened to him?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Here's the trailer for Michael Moore's Sicko, which just debuted in Cannes, and comes States-side on June 29th, and below is Moore's interview with Bill Maher.

Estelle Getty Dance Party

Sometimes, I stop and wonder: I mean, am I just a little too into the The Golden Girls? Then I come to my senses and ask my marble bust of Stan Zbornak's head for forgiveness. The video below was posted on Defamer, and with Alberto Gonzales still in office, sucking at the teet of a helium tank, I need this kind of affirmation in mankind just to get out of bed in the morning:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Price Is Wrong, Bitch (Again, I couldn't help myself)

Not content to let Jessie Spano and Screech hold firm to their shared title of strangest post-Saved by the Bell career move, A.C. Slater is apparently vying for Bob Barker's job on The Price is Right. Am I the only one who misses the days when child stars faced cancellation and cultural irrelevance with some measure of dignity?

Music Video of the Day: Cold War Kids

Oh, I know I shouldn't. MTV has this video--"Hang Me Out to Dry" by the Cold War Kids--on heavy rotation, or at least it did. Still, it's phat with a ph:

c4ts, there is hope

if hot chicks with douchebags can score a book deal, can an interweb detritus anthology be that far behind? c4ts, our exit strategy awaits. i know you've got that certain exam coming up, but let's remember your priorities here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

rushed post

just wanted to draw your attention to an [un?]intentionally most hilarious times wedding announcement. ever. i cut & paste for your convenience. no time for links or nuthin' (except those from the times). res ipsa loquitur, my friends.

Sophia Ruth Chaknis and Joseph Daniel Levy were married yesterday in the Old State House in Boston. The Rev. Mark D. W. Edington, an Episcopal priest, officiated at the nondenominational ceremony.

The couple both work at Harvard, she as the administrator of Adams House, an undergraduate residence, and he as a senior human resources consultant for the arts and sciences faculty. The bridegroom, a graduate of Harvard, is also a sophomore adviser at Adams House.

The bride, 32, will continue to use her name professionally. She graduated from the University of Florida and received a master’s degree in classical archaeology from Florida State University.

The bride is a daughter of Suella M. Chaknis and Manuel Chaknis of Hampton, Va. Her father is a clinical psychologist in private practice there.

The bridegroom, 31, is the son of Kathleen E. Levy and William D. Levy of Wauwatosa, Wis. His mother, who is retired, taught students who were struggling academically at Wauwatosa East High School. His father is a financial analyst in Milwaukee with the United States Postal Service.

The couple met through an online dating site in April 2005.

“My account was set to expire in May, and I was going to take the summer off from dating,” said Ms. Chaknis, who was living in Boston and had been on the site sporadically since January.

She decided to try the dating site one last time, she said, and was drawn to Mr. Levy’s profile: He was tall (6-foot-4) and worked in human resources, which she said she found “exotic.”

They exchanged daily getting-to-know you e-mail messages for two weeks or so, then arranged for a first date on May 1, at a neighborhood bar-restaurant in Boston that Mr. Levy had suggested.

After chatting a bit, Ms. Chaknis asked him to pick an appetizer. He ordered calamari.

“I had never been on a date with a guy who had eaten, much less voluntarily eaten, calamari,” she recalled thinking. So she said to him: “ ‘I love calamari. I’m going to have to marry you.’ ”

“I was only kidding,” she added, but by ordering the dish, “It showed that he was willing to try something a little different.”

Conventional Wisdom

Because earlier I commented on the casting of Edward Norton as the Incredible Hunk, I feel it's my duty to report also this bizarre bit of news: young Frodo Baggins will play Iggy Pop in an upcoming biopic. Now it's exciting that Iggy--like Andrew W.K., Bob Seger and Ken Burns--a native Ann Arborite should be memorialized in film, but Baggins strikes me as a little too fresh-faced and self-consciously hip, no? I'm curious to see how he keeps the nerd-charm of his characters in the The Faculty and Eternal Sunshine at bay in order to channel Pioneer High's finest, a former vagrant who once trolled the basement of the UGLi looking for inspiration (as Iggy told Terry Gross), a man who made it cool to stab yourself with broken bottles. Very curious indeed.

In other news, the CW--a network that I'm pretty sure is run by 14-year-old girls--has announced its fall line-up will include a series called Aliens in America: a comedy about a Pakistani foreign exchange student hosted by a tripped-out family in Wisconsin. (Is Wisco really some sort of hotbed for foreign exchange students?) Maybe it's the Pakistani-in-the-midwest in me, but I'm really excited to try to figure out what channel the CW is and watch this show when it airs. The preview scenes on the website are not at all promising and on the heels of Canada's supremely unfunny Little Mosque on the Prairie I hold little hope for this show, but the network went and cast an actual Pakistani (so far as I can tell) and that's like Rosa Parks kind of progress for my people. We used to just play terrorists--now we get to play characters who the other characters in the show think are terrorists. If that's not the American dream, I don't know what it is.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

May Polls

I'm not putting forth my best effort this Sweeps season, it would appear. School ended and I found myself separated from my computer, and a curious thing happened: I realized all the blogging, anonymous tipstering to gossip sites, watching of 30 Rock I was doing between JSTOR and Lexis research was sustainable so long as there was some sort of other task to avoid. If I sat at my computer for seven hours, working on a paper, I could steal away to the blog or to my favorite bit-terrorist site now and again, and all would be right with the world. Now, as I wait for bar prep classes to start on Wednesday--with no reason even to turn on my laptop--I find myself going whole days without checking email. I've been reading and riding my bike around a newly resplendent A2. I went to the Arboretum and got lost. I ate at Zingerman's twice this week. I guess the old Powerbook and I just needed some time apart, and I needed to remember what people did with themselves pre-mid-1990's...Now onto the post:

Everyone has noticed how the presidential election season seems to have started earlier this time around than in years past. It's like your local mall festooning the rafters with faux snow and over-sized, plastic candy canes in October. In the last few weeks in fact, there've been three debates--one Democratic, two Republican (torturepalooza?)--and we're still, what, almost seven months from the Iowa Caucuses. There is an obvious point to be made here: in that span of time McCain's face might disintegrate or American politics' George Foreman, Al Gore, might jump in the ring--that is, anything can happen--so why all the attention being lavished on the front-runners? At this time in 2004 (in fact, even deeper into the season) Howard Dean was the Democratic front-runner and Wesley Clark was getting a whole lot of buzz; In 1992 Paul Tsongas was steam-rolling his way to the nomination. In 2004, Kerry pulled out a miraculous victory in Iowa and Dean found himself in a very special Brady Bunch episode; in '92, Iowa was irrelevant (because native son Tom Harkin won it with 76% of the vote) and Tsongas pulled out New Hampshire, but Bill Clinton schooled him down the road.

All I'm saying is this race isn't Hillary v. Obama/Bobblehead v. McMeltyface. After his robust showing there in 2004, John Edwards is winning nearly every single poll conducted in Iowa over the last few months, and has South Carolina locked down. He knows how the primaries work. Who cares about the national polls that put him in third? Romney's got a machine in place in New Hampshire, and New England pride being what it is, is winning nearly every recent poll in the granite state. Who cares if nationally he's polling behind Jowly McDistrictattorney? In the absence of any incumbents, there's no such thing as a front-runner eighteen months before the election, and if you think this election's going to be Hilary vs. some cross-dressing abortionist cousin-defiler, you may be right, but you're flying in the face of the last twenty years of American presidential electioneering-- speaking of which, check out Bill Richardson:

Monday, May 14, 2007

"you're going to love this neighborhood, E. it's really gentrified"

the above is what a real estate broker told me when i was looking for an apartment in the BK. ouch. was it my american apparel attire that tipped him off?

yes, i get that the BK is not the rough and tumble borough of yesteryear. it is now a veritable smörgåsbord of babies, bugaboo strollers, doggies, yoga mats and white people. how is every tousle-haired lad and lass able to afford a $600+ stroller? what's up with the f train anyway? i once saw one dude on my commute to work reading edward said's orientalism. c'mon now. why not just wear your m.phil. instead?

i usually enjoy "the hunt," a schadenfreude-tastic column in the times' real estate section. it usually features some hapless high-income individual who decides to leave behind the frenzied world of his/her midtown high-rise to the serene confines of his/her UES high-rise. this week's was priceless. i thought for sure gawker would tear it apart, but since they left this void, i will fill it.

long story short, some guy named beau frank was paying over $3K/month for his soho apartment and decided it was time to buy, buy, buy. here are some pointers for you sad sacks who have yet to become landed gentry. [ed note: what is wrong with you?]

1) he decided to take a risk: “From what I’d heard, Brooklyn was an O.K. place. I knew nothing about it, so I went off word of mouth.”

2) he knew what he wanted and was unwilling to compromise his high standards: Last year, he began the hunt at the Court Street Lofts in Carroll Gardens. He loved the enormous space, but the neighborhood seemed drab. He much preferred Williamsburg, which felt to him suitably like Manhattan.

3) seriously dudes, don't fuck with this one; he's onto you: “I am spending three-quarters of a million dollars and there is no elevator?”

4) enlist help from people who really get you: “He is a hip guy; he needs to be in prime Williamsburg,” [his broker] said.

5) and hey, you can't have everything, so be willing to bend a little: He decided he could live without a fireplace and could tolerate the industrial edge to the neighborhood.

and in case you didn't read the article but wanted to see just what satisfied mr. frank, go right ahead. seriously, you should click on the link. here is a sneak peek: Williamsburg. It's very name evokes all that is happening, all that is hip.

things i learn from my elevator

my friends are useless. this is a true cultural shift, people!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

two americas -- part two

I was just going to respond in the comments section to Blogger E's post below, but I found myself being needlessly and typically maximalist, so I thought it best to unleash my feelings here, dear, dear, indifferent reader.

Regarding the New Yorker fretting E draws our attention to, I wonder how much stock we should put into the opinions of Sasha Frere-Jones--a man whose taste in music tends toward major label releases, but who gets to lay claim to indie cred by introducing MIA, Dizzy Rascal, Feist, and others to the literati. Not a bad gig. As E points out, Frere-Jones laments the state of indie rock--to his credit, actually he hedges his bets a little, saying merely that he harbors some "unease"-- because the movement has come to embrace a diversity of musical stylings. But let's interrogate this unease.

I'm old enough to remember in the mid-1990's when the post-grunge, fledgling indie rock kids put all their eggs in the Sebadoh and Pavement baskets, while at the same time harboring some dismissive views about hip-hop: hardly a muscial genre worth our time, one of my old colleagues at WXDU told me. Of course, the post-Native Tongues movement and members of the Wu-Tang Clan put to rest that stupidity, and now Clipse, Devon the Dude, Mad Lib, et al. draw in the skinny-jeaned and dandruff-coiffed, and no one complains. Enter alt-country, singer-songwriters, and--gasp--chanteuses like Feist, and indie rock's become a true alternative to the collective wisdom of the A&R guys over at the Big Five.

But Frere-Jones' "unease" reminds me that there're still those pitiable, superficial indie rockers out there who can't see past punk rock. To them, and to Frere-Jones' conflicted mind I say this: It's okay for there to be more than three emaciated dudes in a band. It's okay for songs to be languid and moving, for them to be "black-sounding," as Patrick Bateman would say. It's okay for good and dignified muscians to mine disco and lite-rock and reinvent those tired forms. The astonishing thing about Feist is that she has done the impossible: She has reconstituted lite rock, repackaged it, and fed it to scores of scenesters, and in the process made us all forget her shady beginnings with Peaches and all that clash-rock cacophany. If indie rockers can't evolve past "Fuck the Pain Away," 0r shouldn't, as Frere-Jones' uneasy alter ego might suggest, then really the "movement" is what the main-streamers have accused it of being all along: more artifice than substance; snobbery for snobbery's sake.

I for one am not buying that. Nor is my pretend millworker dad.

two americas

no no, i'm not blogging about having grown up the son of a millworker. i'll leave it to c4ts to wax poetic about that.

in a simpsons episode a while back, bart ridicules homer for his love for grand funk railroad. long story short, to show bart he is still relevant, homer gets tickets to lollapalooza and ends up traveling with the festival as a cannonball catching freak. the important lesson of this show was at the end credits, which showed a bunch of disaffected, expressionless youths barely swaying to sonic youth's version of the simpsons theme.

that is what i'm used to when i attend concerts. the wan-complected, greasy-haired audience and the performers holding each other in thinly-veiled near-contempt, despite the fact that the audience cared enough to purchase tickets and show up.

so imagine my surprise at the beirut concert. first of all, the guy is like 10 years old. at one point he was holding a beer and someone screamed, "hey, is that legal?" and he proudly replied, "uh, no." [ed note: this was a pretty good audience retort, but none tops the one from circa-soft bulletin when someone screamed at the flaming lips, "hey! steve sanders loves you guys!"].

i mean, this entire concert was unnerving: the repartee between the audience and the musicians, all these healthy-looking youths sunnily clapping along to the band of thousands on stage...what is going on? a recent new yorker review of feist fretted over the migration of indie rock from its "punk roots" to something resembling lite rock. my worry is simply, when did everyone become so happy? when did everyone learn to play the ukelele?

anyway, thought i'd close this post with the following conversation i overheard between one rosy-cheeked young lass and her friend:

ingenue 1: oh my god, i was at the arcade fire show last night and the audience was SO lame.
ingenue 2: [inaudible]
ingenue 1: i mean, they totally weren't even into it. so many people were, like, sitting down.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Sarah Polley

Sorry for the lack of blogginess lately. I was working on my hateful thesis much of last week, then Sugarpockets had her graduation, and now I'm in DC, visiting the family and doing very little. The only remotely cool thing to happen to me lately is this: I arrived at Dulles on Sunday night and went to the baggage carousel. As I walked by the gathering of limo drivers, I saw a sign for "S. Polley," and said to my sister (and in jest), "Hey, I guess Sarah Polley's in town." We headed for the luggage belt, and who should sidle up next to us and ask, "Are the bags from Toronto coming here," but Ms. Polley herself. Now, having lived in New York, I know celebrity sightings are only cool when they are totally out of context: the princess of Canadian, indie cinema, thus, getting her bags at an airport in Northern Virginia is way cooler than the time I saw three out of four Baldwin brothers (and one Chyna Phillips) at Sheep Meadow (and, a little later in the afternoon, at Columbus Bakery).

Anyway, Polley was very smiley and normal-looking--cute and pale--and has the same New Balances I do. My sister confirmed it was her when she saw her crooked, fake teeth. Anyway, I guess she's in town promoting her new movie, for which WaPo interviewed her. Also, it should be noted that because she's younger than me and has directed a critically acclaimed film, my erstwhile fanship has given way to professional jealousy--Uzodinma Iweala-style. Jealousy, despite the fact that she was the only interesting part of the over-hyped film version of The Sweet Hereafter (Make no mistake: I love Russell Banks, but I hate Atom Egoyan), was in Go, eXistenZ, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and pulled an Edward Norton by quitting on Almost Famous so that Goldie Hawn's daughter could get nominated for an Oscar and marry a pretend rock star. Okay, I'm not really jealous. Anyone who takes time away from acting to become a crazy activist, gets her teeth smashed in by Five-0, and then returns to write and direct a geriatric love story is alright by me.

Saturday, May 5, 2007


sugarpockets and c4ts: congrats on being done!! i'm eating spicy dried mangoes from sahadi's and thinking of you.

Friday, May 4, 2007

canadian hall of fame

i briefly sojourned in the dirty dirty, away from the internets and legalese, where i managed to score some tix to see a great canadian band.

the crowd was an interesting mix of alienated goth kids, their parents who were giving them rides (hello streetcars!), fratties in bass pro fishing hats and disoriented indie rockers. to my surprise, when wim wenders sang the line "don't want to live in america no more," from "windowsill," the crowd roared. did exeter help foment such anti-establishment sentiments?

the evening began with "black mirror," the first song off their newest album. there were 10 musicians on stage, as if it were the WPA or something. is it the socialized medicine that enables the band to employ not one, but two accordionists?

oh wait, the evening really began when i pulled into the parking lot and the attendant asked me, "hey, are you from china?" but then again, a couple of kids sitting on a stoop in my neighborhood in the BK recently called me "gook," [ed note: to their credit, it was a pretty nuanced ethnic slur for a bunch of 12 year olds] so i guess you can't really fault the south on this one.

short story short, believe the hype. the concert was pretty awesome. they played virtually every song off their newest and a handful from their first. each song was met with thunderous hoots and applause (and high-fives from the fratties). the lead singer, despite his amish-esque suspender-short pants combo, was surprisingly charismatic. and i lucked out, as the wall of muscle in front of me remained seated through the entire concert.

these guys, to state the obvs, are blowing up. i'm sure they'll be playing basketball/hockey-size arenas the next time they tour. they undoubtedly will reach REM/radiohead/U2 status within no time, thereby comfortably placing them within the hallowed list of "wildly successful bands indie rockers can love unironically."

oh wow, she has an NYT editorial?! goodness. i haven't been this confused since the matthew fox editorial of early 2007.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Department of Tortured Baseball Metaphors

Check out Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) on the Occupation of Iraq. Video here, transcript below:

Imagine my beloved St. Louis Cardinals are playing the much despised Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals are are up by five, finishing the top of the ninth. Is this a cause for celebration? Is this a cause for victory? No. Unbelievable as it may seem, the Cubbies score five runs in the bottom of the ninth to throw the game into extra innings. There the score remains until 1:00 AM, five innings later. However, at the top of the 15th, the Cardinals fail to field a batter. The entire team has left the stadium. It seems that they are more worried about next day’s 1:00 PM game at home than finishing the game at hand. Who wins? We know it’s the team that stays on the field. Arbitrary deadlines and a date certain accept defeat before the conclusion of the contest. It is our national security interest to continue to take the field and support a moderate Arab state. Leaving prior assures a loss for us and victory for our opponents which will lead to another extremist Islamic state.