Friday, September 30, 2005

The OC Season 3 Episode 4: How Marissa got her groove back

Previously: Season 3 Episode 3: Hate To Say I Told You So

Full disclosure time here. I have never been to public school. Well, that's not true. I went to public elementary schools in Japan and the UK but I have never had the John Hughes Americana experience in my formative years.

So when my public school friends would regal me with tales of their adventures - guns, smoking in the bathroom, cars that cost less than $25,000, spontaneous choreographed dance numbers - I would lean on every word, wide eyed like a little boy listening to his grandfather's war stories, and wonder if I could survive even first period in the Sarajevo that is the American public high school. On the flip side, not being the token Asian would have been awfully nice. Thanks, dad.

Lucky Marissabot. Unlike your fearless leader, she gets to experience taxpayer-funded education firsthand. Except we don't see her in the classroom. Just getting dropped off by Ryan, getting harassed in the hallway, getting saved from harassment in the hallway, not getting picked up by Ryan. That's what school is, really. It is but mere respite between the drama, romance and comic misunderstandings.

So yeah, comic misunderstandings. It appears that Nora Ephron took over for Josh Schwartz and turned the Ryan-Marissabot relationship into a chick flick. Poor Ryan, he's getting stood up for breakfast! But don't blame Marissa, she and her mom are getting evicted and she forgot all about the breakfast date. Oh look, Ryan looks through the wire fence (oooh, public school decor is edgy!) and thinks Marissabot's getting harassed - oh, it's just a nice guy trying to console her. Is Marissa ditching homework to go to the (gasp! non-themed!) school dance with public school ruffians? Well, yes.

Back in civilization, the Seth/Summer vs Taylor/Dean Hess tag team match continues. Seth, to his credit, still refuses to out Summer, earning him more shit from the Dean of Discipline (for full effect, play something from a Richard Wagner opera in your mind every time I write "Dean of Discipline". Also, I find it's oddly entertaining to insert the Law & Order bassline and "da dum" in random TV shows. But I digress).

Taylor, on the other hand, extends an olive branch to Summer, revealing that her bitchiness is actually a defense mechanism to cope with her crippling loneliness. It makes sense. I've been there too. But wait! This revelation comes way too early in the episode, before anything climactic has gone down between Summer and Taylor. Shit, it's not even 8:20 ET yet. But Summer is oblivious to the timing of the plot development and takes Taylor at her word. She doesn't even see Taylor ominously stepping over the "End of Summer Dance" banner. And I thought I was bad at catching signals.

Nothing much over at Chez Cohen. Kirsten is cooking some fancy ass grub (which hopefully don't require any cooking wine or sherry). Oh, by the way Kiki, I know you're excited about actually using those shiny kitchen appliances, but you might want to start off with the easy stuff. Whatever you're cooking up sounds way too challenging for a proven non-cook. Tivo some Food Network programs so you can watch how the pros do it. That cute Giada DiLaurentiis chick is pretty good and Alton Brown knows his shit. But don't do any of that Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade shit. That stuff looks awful and it's all a rather blatant product placement.

Aaaaanyway, Kirsten and Sandy are cool like that, which means Jeri Ryan has to come in and try to ruin the coolness of it all. Except she's not all that good at ruining things. Turns out, she's not so much a psycho stalker as she is half of an incompetent con artist duo. She tries to trick Kirsten into investing, oh I don't know, $2, 3 million on this halfway house for women winos but Kirsten ain't go no money in her name and she's shutting down the Newport Group because no one knows exactly what the Newport Group does other than lose money. Jeri Ryan tries to give this whole "Getting over your past is important but it's also for pussies" speech, to which simultaneously confuses and coaxes the best creeped-out look from Kirsten. Jeri Ryan reports back to her scam partner with the bad news, but promises to strike again. Off camera, the two share a "Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha" belly laugh, I'm sure.

Ryan isn't doing much of anything other than getting stood up by Marissabot, pining for Marissabot and getting ditched by Marissabot. That, and he's waiting for his home-school tutor, who will presumably teach him the legend of Jebediah Springfield and that Whacking Day is a sham byproduct of xenophobia. Howeve, this storyline does yield the best Cohenism of this season, "You home schooled kids are pathetic."

Back to Marissabot. Man, her introduction to the school is so straight out of Brandon's first day at school in 90210. They should've just completed the homage by having a 45-year-old sophomore newspaper editor be her love interest. But alas, we have a surfer dude, his girlfriend and their Screech-esque comic relief, who save her from the one mean girl who keeps harassing her in the hallway and making "bang bang" finger gestures. Why does that girl hate Marissa? Well, Casey the self processed not-that-nice, but actually nice girl explains, it might be her fancy ass outfit and her Chanel necklace. That, and the sense of entitlement and self-pity that surrounds her boyish body like a force field.

But at the non-themed dance, the "bang bang" girl's still mean to Marissa. Which is kinda appropriate because the song that's playing is MIA's "Fire Fire". Screech Jr comes up with an alternate theory - it's because the uncivilized public school hooligans are like dogs and they can smell fear. Nah, I'm still going with sense of entitlement and self-pity. But thanks to the only three nice kids in public school, Marissa goes from inconsolable to relatively okay. Ryan, who's getting his insecurities tested like a motherfucker goes to crash the non-themed dance, but decides not to when she sees Marissa chatting happily and Seth shows up from his own themed-dance sensing he'd be there.

Again, back to the civilized world of Harbor Academy. So I told you Taylor was playing the "Me Kim Jong Il. Me so ronery." act on Summer, right? Well, Taylor tricks Summer into admitting her part in the theft of the "South Pacific" set to (cue Wagner) the Dean of Discipline, forcing her to resign as social chair. Oh dear! There goes her one resume padder! Consequently, Summer gets to feel what Taylor felt throughout Seasons 2, all the work and no credit. At the dance, Taylor is not at all graceful in her usurping of Summer, as she makes a speech thanking the Dean of Discipline and really emphasizing that this is the End of Summer dance.

Oh, the whole suit-and-shorts thing ain't working. It didn't work when Boyz II Men rocked it in 1992, and Motownphilly certainly is not back again.

Summer has, well, will have the last laugh though, as she catches Taylor Townsend sneaking out of the gym, and discovers her making out with (cue porn music) the Dean of Discipline. I would have pulled out my camera phone, but that's easy for me to say sitting on my couch 3,000 miles away. But Summer now has ammo in hand she can unleash at the most opportune time.

How did I get this far without mentioning Julie Cooper? Granted, she wasn't her usual self but what do you expect when your sugar daddy's mansion gets repo'd and she has to move to either that motel she used for hooking up with Luke or Trey and Alex's old apartment (it's hard to tell - OC set designers seem to have a singular idea of what plebeian Orange County living looks like). And trying to tell Marissa that they weren't being evicted was a little pathetic. That's like telling your daughter that you sent her hamster to Hamster Camp when the girl can clearly see the toilet plunger in your hand. Still, she had the second best line of the night, "We will get back on our feet and when we do, we'll be wearing expensive footwear when we do." Ah, that's me Julie. Booyakasha.

As the episode draws to a close, Marissa has sneaked into Ryan's poolhouse (don't people lock their doors in Newport?), and Ryan comes back from his snooping mission, though Marissa doesn't have to know. The awkward couple decides that Youth Group's cover of "Forever Young" (which I'm actually preferring over the original) is "their" song. Meanwhile, Julie sobs alone, Kirsten deals with her horrible dead father and Summer smiles smugly.

So I'm trying to post this morning and...

I'm not good with math or anything [please, stop with the false modesty - Ed.] and I know it's getting confusing since we're about to go back an hour, but I'm pretty damn sure it's not 5 pm out on the West Coast when it's 9 am here. And I know web sites have to do maintenance every few weeks like I have to take a shower every now and then, but would it kill them to give us (admittedly non-paying) users a heads up? I'm just saying.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

You know I have to comment on this, right?

As the self appointed voice of reason on the matter of the Lower East Side Starbucks, I couldn't help but giggle like a schoolgirl upon reading an LES blogger declare her love for the Delancey/Allen Starbucks (via Eater).

But really, I don't judge. Some people like their coffee like that and Delancey Street was always a strip mall anyway. And the only reason I won't set foot in that Starbucks isn't because I'm boycotting it or anything.

88 Orchard is simply closer to spinachdip HQ and they don't charge me gazillion dollars a minute to use the internet. That, and I'd have to pass it on the way to Starbucks and I'd be weighed down by guilt. When I pass by their window, the nice girl at the counter knows. She just does.

Hermitude (happy birthday, yo) lists a couple of alternative coffee shops on the Lower East Side, and I can assure Nichelle that the bathroom at 88 is regularly cleaned and generally free of needles left behind by homeless guys.

In which I continue my Bush obsession: I prefer trimmed, not shaved

When you're going through a massive writer's block, the easiest way to get out is to write a big Bush-bashing post. There are so many angles to hit, the shit practically writes itself.

But I've already commented on Dubs prior to his prime time speechery 2 weeks ago and nothing much has changed since.

And guest blogger Crunk Raconteur at Cole Slaw looks at how accountability is no longer Bush's BFF, and how his appointees share his distaste for taking responsibility.

Meanwhile, Time becomes the latest mainstream media outlet to try testicles on for size (again, where were you when the country was going to war?) and asks How Many More Mike Browns Are Out There?.

At this point, I have to ask my readers who voted for Bush (assuming I have any Bush supporting readers) - if you could go back to 2000 or last November, would you vote for him again? If so, why?

He has failed to deliver on almost everything he promised (see: accountability, compassionate conservatism, laissez-faire foreign policy, small government). Well, except maybe his folksy charm. He still sounds dumb as shit and I guess liberals still tend to misunderestimate him for his perceived stupidity. That's about it, right?

And this, in a nutshell, is precisely what is wrong with American political discourse. Both sides are more interested in "winning" and their ideology trumping the other than carrying out policy that makes sense.

The result is a President in office who can win elections but can't carry out policy for shit, appoints sycophants and campaign contributors to posts and remains loyal to incompetent underlings beyond their sell-by date.

If winning's your thing, great, keep voting for whoever Karl Rove is pushing in 2008. If seeing liberals (or Clintonian centrists) lose to a bait-and-switch faux-conservative gets your schadenfreude going, I understand. Just remember that your winning turns this country to shit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Linkatharsis: I choo choo choose you!

For whatever reason, this is turning into a light posting week. As always, I don't know when it's going to pick up. It could be later today or next Tuesday. Well, The OC recap should still be coming on Friday as long as I don't miss it. For the time being, all the action is on the sidebar.

  • Boston here we come, right baaack where we staaaarted from

  • A picture is worth a thousand words. But when Cobrasnake finds a guy trying to take all 10 spots in next week's Blue States Lose, then, well...

  • An actual IMversation, more or less:
    giantschlong_nyc: I have a major writer's block. i can't think of shit to write about.
    fauxy: haha
    giantschlong_nyc: i'd do a linkatharsis but there isn't anything linkworthy
    fauxy: link to my post about cheese, bitch
    giantschlong_nyc: ok
    Or something like that. Lesson of the day: if you want me to do something, insult me.

  • I'll link to any post that includes that Gravediggaz picture. Seriously. One of the great memories in childhood was when some people in hip hop were seriously suggesting that "horror core" was going to be a viable subgenre.

    Then again, who would have believed before 1994 that a bunch of kung fu loving kids from Staten Island, essentially nine black Quentin Tarantinos, would become one of the most influential acts in hip hop? And I guess MF Doom and the rest of the Stone's Throw Records stuff are offshoots of what Gravediggaz started.

  • At least I'm more prolific than Zach Braff. He checks in after a 2-month absence to report that he still loves us all. Then again, if I were sharing communicable diseases with Mandy Moore on the regular, I probably wouldn't be posting as much either.

  • Bill Simmons is growing more and more eh for me - the last time I enjoyed his material was the email exchange he had with Ralph Wiley shortly before Wiley passed away - and Curious Guy, his new email interview series doesn't reverse the trend. Last week's interview with Josh Schwartz was super self indulgent and this week with Chuck Klosterman is much of the same. Still, it's Chuck Klosterman.

  • Flickr's marriage with Yahoo hasn't left everyone satisfied. Earlier, there was a threat of mass suicides over the required merging of Yahoo and existing Flickr accounts, and now over Yahoo text ads next to pictures.

    I haven't noticed this actually - does this only happen to non-Pro users? And are text ads anything to get worked up over? Does anyone even notice the Google text ads that pop up next to search results and on some blogs? Do people confuse advertising with endorsement when it is clearly labeled "Ads from Yahoo"? Blah.

    Look, I'm as bothered by branding of everything and anything, and the current mentality of turning everything in our lives into advertising media. But really, it's a frickin' text ad. For a free photo hosting/sharing service (and fucking wonderful one at that).

  • So, like, no one's going nuts over Pitchfork's Wolf Parade review, which falls short of Late Registration but beats out Clap Yeah, right?. Especially if you're like Sexy Results! Ian and have the formula down.

  • Fat Asian Baby finds love on Myspace.

  • Turns out, I was years, nay, a whole decade ahead of the latest trend.

  • Tomorrow is the first anniversary of podcasting. Who knew? How did we ever live without podcasting? The mind boggles.
  • Monday, September 26, 2005

    The New Yorker Festival wrapup: Never too warm for a tweed blazer

    One of the great joys of early Autumn in New York is the The New Yorker Festival, where even barely functionally literate fart joke enthusiasts like myself can play culture snob and drop names like a carriage horse in Central Park. Also, potential for free booze.

    Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Nicole Krauss, one half of the NY literary power couple, and former Ayatolla mancrush Salman Rushdie read from their then yet-unpublished novels, despite not understanding what the fuck was going on in "Shalimar the Clown" or having heard of Krauss before [Good lord, that's a run-on sentence if I ever saw one - Ed].

    For Friday Fiction Night this year, I picked A.M. Homes and Jeffrey Eugenides. Though there were sexier pairings - Chabon/King, Smith/Franzen and Krauss/McEwan - I didn't love "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" or "The Corrections" the way I did "Middlesex" (and don't get me started on "The Twenty-Seventh City").

    I went in unfamiliar with A.M. Homes and I gotta say, left unimpressed. Well crafted, smart and funny, sure. But I don't know, maybe she's a little too smart for my taste? Some authors can get away with the smarty pants (Palahniuk and Eggers, though not always, come to mind). It didn't help that just as she started reading, the two men sitting on the next table waved rather unsubtly to their friends across the room, kicking my ADD into overdrive. I only recovered about 5 minutes into her 20 minute reading. So yeah, missing the setup and exposition and shit can kill your enjoyment of a passage a bit.

    Eugenides read from his third novel that will come out sometime next year and I believe the chapter he read will appear on next week's New Yorker. But don't take my word for it. It's well crafted, smart, funny and, well, promising.

    I found the subsequent Q&A almost as enlightening as the reading. As a frustrated writer, I always appreciate insight into how other real authors find their voice. Two things I learned Friday night:
    1. The writing of "Middlesex" began with the love scene between Callie and The Obscue Object. Everything else developed from there.
    2. For the car factory scenes, Eugenides essentially translated Diego Rivera's murals into words.

    These points might seem inconsequential but at least for me, it tells me that (a) Just because you start writing based on one theme, that theme will not necessarily be the focus of the novel. I have to just write and let everything figure itself out, and (b) inspiration is where you look - too often, I fixate too much on my own experiences and other writers for reference points. What I forget is that writing has to be more than mere words on a page - the writer's responsibility is to make the reader see and hear things in their minds.

    Saturday, I actually had tickets for "Anarchy and Animation" with Brad Bird, Matt Stone, Trey Parker et al but decided to unload the tickets earlier in the week because, as much as I enjoy celebrity gawking, I realized I wasn't all that interested in the subject. Turned out to be the right move, as the taking the afternoon off gave me the chance to deal with personal life issues, eat some damn good Vietnamese, take a much needed nap and rock out to "Behind These Hazel Eyes".

    Saturday night was the main event for me, as I decided on The Roots and Malcolm Gladwell over Ricky Gervais. I initially had the case of the buyer's remorse since The Roots have only disappointed my recently and you don't often get a chance to hear Gervais talk live. By the end of the night, I was over my apprehension.

    Aside - my lovely companion and I had this crazy idea to walk from the Lower East Side to 10th Ave/21st St. We managed to make it in time, but we missed out on the complimentary Grey Goose. Probably a good thing since we were on empty stomachs, though we could've used some liquid refreshment.

    The event started with Gladwell interviewing ?uestlove, Black Thought and band manager Richard Nichols about the current state of hip hop and the band's career trajectory. Nothing too unexpected - the themes throughout the conversation were hip hop's post-2Pac/Biggie commercial explosion and nihilism, the Reaganomics-inspired winner-take-all mentality and minstrelsy as an unavoidable part of black entertainment.

    Gladwell's questions either answered themselves or were superficial, though really, we were there for the music. Less talk, more music would've been nice but cultural beggars can't be choosy. For the record, the Roots are not big fans of Li'l Jon. And if you're wondering who had the bigger afro on stage, Questo's was bigger than Gladwell's, but not by much.

    After the conversation and Q&A, the rest of the Roots joined Black Thought and ?uestlove on stage for some jamming. Now, throughout the first half of the event, Black Thought said very little, answering only when directly addressed and letting Nichols and ?uesto answer most of the questions, odd for the voice of a band.

    But once the band took their places and he pulled his Yankees hat low, he was on. Surprising as it is, Saturday night's set, was the tightest I've heard them in a while, even with a decidedly non-hip hop audience and martini glasses smashing every few minutes.

    Maybe it was because they had no illusions about the crowd's willingness to wave their arms in the air and say "Ho". Or it was the abbreviated set that forced them to just play the songs and showboat less. The Roots hit their stride in the middle with "Concerto of the Desperado" and "Mellow My Man", and ended rather abruptly, but on a high note with "The Next Movement"

    The show also gave me a chance to be close enough to stage to watch ?uestlove, whose beats often sound like they could only come from a drum machine. That alone would have been worth the price of admission, and made the whole weekend.

    Posted on Flickr by Frost Bites

    I am a little disappointed I missed this:

    Posted on Flickr by Jordan Davis

    How often do you get to see Ani DiFranco and Rza sitting side by side?

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    Linkatharsis: When can we stop caring about black people?

  • File this under "Seriously Awesome": a high school music teacher in Minnesota created The Shadow Percussion Project, in which he rearranges DJ Shadow's "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt" and "Changeling", and directs his school band.

    Here's the video (right-click-save). Seriously. Watch it now. (via One Louder)

  • If your goal in life was to see Stewie from The Family Guy do the running man, then you can now die in peace.

  • Blake Bailey, who has been writing weekly dispatches to Slate on his exile from Katrina, lost his home but was reunited with his cat.

  • I'm so heatbroken that Jessica Coen is not an admirer of this blog. My work area has become a miniature 9th Ward, filled with my tears of torment and drool of discontent. Why won't Jess love me?

  • Chris Rock's middle teacher didn't care about black people. She does now after watching Everybody Hates Chris.

  • Today at Neighborhoodies: Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline)

  • 20 pay-per-shit toilets in NYC? About time and not nearly enough, I say. I actually have a history with these pay-per-poopers, having been trapped in one when I was 9. Quite traumatic, but I got over it.

  • One half of one of spinachdip's favorite blogs, Cole Slaw Blog, is in Scotland and has amusing anecdotes. Also, it appears the other half is headed to Hilton Head, SC but afraid to admit it. Perfectly understandable.

  • Moss's loss is Sienna's gain, maybe. Also, Many Faces of Sienna (via c-rags)

  • That's it for the week. Zip it up, zip it out!

    The OC Season 3 Episode 3: Hate To Say I Told You So

    Previously: Season 3 Episode 2: Ryan Being Ryan

    Watching The OC last night, I was trying to type this post in my mind found it impossible to find a hook, an angle to latch onto. Usually, Marissa does something ridiculous or Seth makes a wry comment that lets me ease into a review. But last night? Neey-ada.

    And I figured out the problem. It's Lost. While I don't quite have the testicles to proclaim Wednesday night's season premier Best Hour of TV Ever as TVGasm did, it was, well, the best hour of television I'd watched so far. There was genuine suspense. Each scene, though separated by time and space, melded into each other seemlessly. The begging, the middle and the end - they were all tied together with a single string.

    The OC comes off downright amateurish by comparison. And I guess that's the point. It is a sendup to 90210, and to an extent, Saved By The Bell. But I can't help but think how willing I am to suspend disbelief for a show set on a fictional island about people who could very well be ghosts of flight crash victims, yet the logical plot holes are so glaring on a supposedly realistic show set in a real life community.

    And the problem is, less than 24 hours after watching some gripping television, The OC gets a wee bit boring because it rarely offers any real surprises.

    So yeah, Jimmy's back in financial trouble, except this time, it's some shady loan shark, not the FBI. Oh, he's catching a beatdown. Jimmy thinks remarrying Julie and cashing in on Caleb's inheritance. I predicted last week that Caleb might have nothing to give.

    Now, I'd pat myself on the back for predicting the above, but who didn't? This was supposed to be the main thread in this episode, but it was just oh so utterly predictable.

    I held out hope that, maybe, because Tate Donovan's a "special guest star" and all, they might go ahead and kill him. And when I saw his limp body floating in the Pacific as Matt Pond sang gently and Ryan humped Marissa not too far away, my eyes brightened up a tiny bit. But no such luck. Next morning, we see Jimmy, who actually doesn't look bad for catching the Worst Beatdown Ever, back on his boat. Dude, just sail off to Hawaii. I don't even know you any more.

    Oh, about Ryan and Marissa. Well, about fucking time. I'm surprised they didn't just stress fuck over the summer. Maybe I should try the "I'm leaving town and this is our last chance to see each other nekkid" thing too. The whole dinner-and-flowers thing doesn't work, that's for sure.

    Wait, before I forget, Julie mentioned Marissa's little sister again! This happens, what, every 6 months? Marissa's obviously forgotten about her since all her talk about her family being back together always omits Kaitlin. Anyway, does Kaitlin even know that her mom remarried? And her stepfather died? And her parents threatened to get back together? And that her mom can't pay her tuition?

    Anyway, to Seth and Summer, who so far are having the most boring Best Year Ever. Kudos to Seth for not throwing Summer's perfectly tight ass under the bus, but he loses points for (a) congratulating himself and (b) well, if he did rat her out, he wouldn't get much Summer lovin' any more.

    As for Dean of Discipline and the female Karl Rove, meh. Guess I could say that for the rest of the episode. Hopefully, they'll do something with Jeri Ryan's character. Enough set up, give me the payoff.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Linkatharsis: If you can't be with the one you love, love the one in your pants

  • Ditty?

    Isn't exactly stealing iPod Nano's thunder, is it?

    Surely Dell can do better than that. Seriously. Ditty? I'm not sure who thought this was a good idea. Aren't they concerned that it sounds an awful lot like Diddy? (Eh, it looks like it's designed for people who like Puff's music) Or that Ditty rhymes with "shitty"? Because you know, that would be an apt description for its design.

    I'm getting the sense that other companies aren't even trying to come up with "iPod Killers" but rather, settling for iPod Catcher-Uppers. Or something. And it seems Dell isn't that crazy about Ditty either, because they feel it's "the ideal product" for word of mouth advertising. Um. Okay.

  • A new set of Get Your War On has been out for a week and no one bothered to inform me?

  • Hey, remember that Orange Mobile commercial they were shooting on Broome Street way back when? I forgot about it too, but here's the finished product, though the video quality is so poor I couldn't make out any details without my super depixellating goggles: Orange - "Black Out".

    I'm pretty sure the last overhead shot is in front of 88 Orchard and Barrio Chino though. Central Village has a couple of pics from the shoot in his Flickr account.

    Oh, I previously mentioned that I liked the Honda commercial with the Grandaddy song. Not so sure about the one with "Galang". The oh-so-hip crowd the commercial's obviously target have heard M.I.A. over and over again, right? And they probably think the music is a transparent attempt to be down and whatnot. Maybe that's just me.

  • "It's just easier to market white artists. They're just more easily embraced... if you're the only black person on a hockey team and you're good then it's like 'Oh, shit!' People go for the oohs and ahs"

    Definitely. It's all about breaking through the clutter being white while associating yourself with an established "brand" like Pharrell or Kanye. Or like that one girl who hangs out with the guys. Or something.

    Now, what's the big deal with Miri Ben-Ari, other than that she's an Israeli girl who plays the violin on hip hop tracks? I mean, she was nice in "20 Minute Workout" but at the end of the day, she's not much more than a gimmick, is she?

  • "In case you care, and you probably don't, Lil' Kim's new album got 5 Mics in The Source, hopefully implying that there's an answer to what was once thought to be a rhetorical question: 'who do you gotta blow to get 5 Mics?'"

  • I've never felt so much empathy for those poor fiscal conservatives until now.

  • Nothing motivates German soccer fans like 10,000 liters of beer. German beer.

  • Let's give a little "Ole" to In Limbo for making Grant Wahl's starting XI of US soccer blogs. In addition to In Limbo, I occasionally visit We Call It Soccer and the other ones, less frequently. All quality though.

    On a persona note, doing a soccer blog with a more global perspective is something I've thought about off and on - it'll be a matter of finding a fresh angle and a writing partner or two and figuring out my schedule.

    BTW, Grant Wahl has a habit of watching soccer matches from random couches. Such is the soccer community in the US.

  • If you're like me, you're probably wondering what Ademola Okulaja and Dante Calabria are up to these days.

  • It ain't easy being Japanesey. A Chinese shopkeer puts up a sign banning "Japanese and dogs" while a weatherman (albeit a self-appointed "wacky" one) blames Japanese gangsters for Hurricane Katrina.

    Meanwhile, there's some Rita-induced chaos in Texas.

  • If you didn't catch Asobi Seksu at Crash Mansion last week, see them at Rothko this Friday, says One Louder. Me? I'll be doing my culture poseur thing at the New Yorker Festival and drooling over hotties like Jeffrey Eugenides, Malcolm Gladwell and ?uestlove.

  • Poor Kate Moss. I mean, it's not a big secret that models do drugs, right? At least it's just coke - she could be doing heroin, y'know?

    I do think H&M made a fairly shrewd move. They've milked more than could have ever hoped for out of their association with the waifish one, and then gets to look all responsible because they cut her off. Yeah, they'll have to reshuffle their fall promotion a bit but they'll manage.

    This might turn out well for Kate Moss as well though, if she can turn herself into a sympathetic figure. People are such whores for redemption. I sense a reality show coming up, featuring Kate and Jude Law living in a house together, trying to avoid cocaine and infidelity.
  • Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    My life without a camera: Day 5

    They say, if you love someone, let her go. If it's meant to be, she'll come back.

    Which is utter bullshit, of course and you should never let your love go. Ever. But I did send my little digital camera off to repair yesterday. Not that the camera has been functional since last Wednesday, I still feel a sense of emptiness. All I want to do is take a picture of something. Anything.

    So this must be the week when everything I own goes to shit. Since it was so fucking pleasant this evening. I decided to go for a bike ride, but not five blocks from my apartment, I hear a clunk and see a suspicious, skinny piece of metal. I look down and the front wheel is missing the quick release skewer. Sure enough, it's on the ground.

    I look for the cap but it's nowhere to be found. Damn it. How long has it been like this? Have I been riding this whole time without a cap on the quick release? When did this happen? Was someone trying to steal my bike? So many questions unanswered. Hopefully, I will only have to replace the cap and the spring.

    And for the past week, my iBook's making this sound that sounds distinctly like "kill me now". Understandable, since it's four years old and that's like 273 in computer years.

    Why is the universe conspiring against me. Oh well. At least there's absolutely nothing going wrong in my personal life. Wait...

    Okay, back to Lost. Hmm. They resolved one cliff hanger. Sort of. Let's see what they do with the other one.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    Linkatharsis: So we left Brooklyn and we made big tracks

    So if you kept your TV on Fox after Arrested Development last night... wait, you did watch it, right? Right? You didn't? Shame on you.

    Fantastic episode as always. Favorite scene? When Tobias points out the blue hand print on the back of Kitty's head. Then Kitty (played by the fantastic Judy Greer) does her usual "Girls With Low Self Esteem" thing and reveals more handprints. If you're not watching Arrested, you're missing the best comedy on television. Go rent the first two seasons and watch every episode before next Monday, I command you.

    My only complaint is that they seemed to have done away with the fake "In the next episode of..." gag.

    Anyway, if you kept your TV on Fox after Arrested, you would've caught Kitchen Confidential - utterly disappointing, I must say. I actually meant to read the memoir first but never got around to it. I still have to finish "Charlie Wilson's War", "A Long Way Down" and 3 or 4 more books that may or may not include "Kafka On The Shore" before I get to Bourdain. But it looks like I don't have to rush to it since I won't be watching the show any more.

    To be fair, Kitchen isn't as bad as War At Home, which replaced Arrested's post-Simpsons slot.. As much as I love Rapaport, the show is painful.

  • Am I going crazy or did both Adrants and Adland post the same exact column by the same guest columnist?

    Yeah, it's nice and thorough but then again, is it that much of a challenge to critique those annoying Capital One commercials? That's like doing a move-by-move dressing down of a 9-year-old Scrabble player. Or personnel moves by Isiah Thomas. Too easy.

    Update: so it turns out the double guest column is a complete copy-and-paste of a post from a month ago. Lame.

  • Download Wolf Parade's "I'll Believe In Anything" from the wonderful folks at Neighborhoodies.

  • I enjoy reading low culture, but sometimes, the comments section ends up being funnier than the actual post.

  • Celebrity-Way calling (via Cityrag)

  • Meet the New Face of Wonderbra.

    Since when does Wonderbra need a face? Isn't the whole point to get dudes to stop looking at your face and start staring at your enhanced boobies? Girls are weird.

  • Mike Doughty learns about the wonderful world of Bob Jones University (via 16 Horsepower).

  • If you're wondering if it's safe to drink the New Orleans floodwater, Wired has the answer.

  • How often do you get Public Enemy, Death Cab and Drive-By Truckers on the same bill? Every 20 years.
  • It's never too early to start bashing Isiah Thomas

    Which NBA GM wants to sign an underachieving big man and a health problem so serious that he can't be insured? Isiah Thomas, of course.

    Meanwhile, NY Times charts the Knicks' glorious path since the departure of Patrick Ewing. Towards the end of the article, Isiah makes a distinction between the mistakes of his predecessors and his spending habits, and you know what? He has a point. Almost.

    Check the list of NBA contracts, scroll down to the Knicks and you'll see that the majority of the salaries have '06 and '07 next to them. It helps that the team is considerably younger and balanced than it was two seasons ago.

    Now, let's accept that they had to get Stephon Marbury to fill the seats in the Garden. You still have to be bothered that the bulk of the money due goes beyond '07, including the player option that Malik Rose will surely take to '09. And how does Q-Rich fit into this scheme, bad back and all? They'll probably have to overpay to keep Trevor Ariza, about the only Knick who earned his pay and I haven't even mentioned Jerome James and his $30 million yet.

    BTW, what's with Portland's fascination with 6-3ish guards? Sebastian Telfair is clearly their point guard of the future but they draft Jarret Jack, signed Juan Dixon and now they have Steve Blake signed to an offer sheet.

    Crow Pie: It's what's for breakfast

    Okay, so I was wrong about Curbed linking to this post.

    I still think my picture's better than the one here.

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    Linkatharsis: I specifically asked not to be woken up until September ended

    If you follow English soccer at all, do yourself a favor and subscribe to The Fiver newsletter. Since it comes out at 5 pm London time, you'll get it just in time for lunchtime. Really. Subscribe now and thank me later.

    One of the hardest moments in anyone's life is when they realise fairytales are bull. That in the real world, Cinderella would have been sussed as an impostor, battered by steroid-crazed bouncers and left to trudge home in the rain. She'd have fought away tears, then been splashed by passing cars and jeered by idle urchins. She'd have been an Everton fan.

  • Gawker has about as appropriate a response as you can give to the New York mag piece asking why two pretty girls with so much to live for speedballed to death.

    Well, Juan Carlos Pesantez, the father of one of the, um, victims knows what really happened.
    "No, we need to clear up what the truth is. From here forward, we are going to clean up my daughter’s name.” He believes the facts will eventually show that Mellie Carballo was working as a roper for Martinez, luring in new girls in exchange for drugs.

    “I know that Maria would, if Mellie asked her to, to ‘please come with me quickly to drop off this bag at my friend’s house,’ she would go up,” he says. “I think that Mellie does the drugs first and she passes out. So these guys decide that they can’t have a live witness and so they make Maria do the same. Then they can wash their hands of it, put it all on them, saying that they brought the drugs, or they wanted to do the drugs, or they set it up. They killed Maria so she wouldn’t be able to talk! I say to you, Maria has to have had some kind of pressure, maybe a fist, or a gun, because we’re not sure that Maria would have gone into that apartment with those men voluntarily.”

    Mr. Pesantez, I'd like you to meet someone. Occam, this is Juan Carlos Pesantez. Mr. Pesantez, the gentleman here with a rather large razor in his hand is Occam. Why don't I leave you two alone?

  • "Oatmeal makes you rock more efficiently", says Jeff Tweedy's 9-year-old kid.

  • Hey, have you noticed that Honda Civic commercial with "Nature Anthem" by Grandaddy? I'm digging it right now, mostly because I only see it every now and then.

  • Can we squeeze a few more tortured storm analogies in there?
    "After the deluge, the Gulf Coast is being overwhelmed again. But this time it's with waves of contractors, prospectors and speculators looking to cash in on what President Bush calls 'one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen.' The tsunami of spending, already budgeted at $62 billion, could top $200 billion - what the U.S. has spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then as now, those mopping up first are the politically well connected: Fluor, Bechtel and the Shaw Group, which each scored $100 million no-bid contracts before the flood waters began to recede. (Halliburton is benefiting from an existing $500 million contract to repair naval bases.)

    Oh, and watch out for Rita, seriously.

    Meanwhile, the Saints can't wait to get out. They're just trying to let New Orleans down easy and pretend they haven't been winking in the general direction of San Antonio.

  • Playlist ponders how Motorola and Apple would do things differently if they could make Rokr all over again:
    Meeting Three would be postponed so that Apple and Sony Ericsson could get together yet again to try to settle their differences over the whole "You Guys Understand That Sony Connect Sucks, Right?" thing.

  • Tyco's Kozlowski gets 8 1/3 to 25 years. As satisfying it is to see a white collar criminal get his (and state prison won't be Camp Cupcake by any stretch of the imagination), why do I get the feeling that he's simply the exception that proves the rule, and that you only get caught if you screw other rich folks?

  • Brooklyn Vegan posts pics from last week's Seu Jorge show at the Bowery. I was feeling really crappy at that concert so it's nice to get a reminder that the music and the atmosphere were fantastic. Well, except for all the people who kept talking over the music.

  • Low Culture rounds up a few Bush items.

    Of note is Clinton's criticism of the Bush borrow-and-spend strategy. As I've said before, Bush only cares that he sells a product and take the commission. He doesn't care about what happens 3, 5, 10 years down the load when that product when the bills are due and he's out of office. It's quite alarming that throughout this presidency, Bush has never asked for sacrifice from the American people, even with big ticket items like Iraq, Social Security reform and now Katrina. Consumer spending can only cure so many ills.

  • You cool kids and your CMJ reviews.
  • My life without a camera: Day 3

    As I mentioned in the previous post, I am now a blogger without a digital camera, which I guess is like a trucker without his mesh hat or a stripper without his g-string.

    What makes it worse is that I've had the camera since last July, making it 2 months too old for a Kodak warranty repair. I have extended warranty on it but the estimated turnaround is 4-6 weeks (!). Crappy poo.

    So I have 3 choices:
    1. Send it in for the warranty repair and wait a month or more
    2. Send it to Kodak for repair, pay $120 and hope the turnaround is quicker
    3. Trade in for a refurbished version of the same camera for $150, get a 1-year warranty

    #2's stupid of course, while #3 is fine except I'm essentially paying to trade down and I lose my 3-year extended warranty.

    Obviously, #1 is the one that makes the most sense but 4-6 weeks is a long time in Blogger Years. Already, I'm noticing things that would make the most awesomest photograph yet I am left impotent without a functional camera.

    I can only imagine the photo opportunities that will pop up after I send the camera in for repair:
    • New York Sports Club opening on Orchard Street
    • Tara Reid passed out on my bed
    • Chinatown bus war between Today's Bus and New Century, the two companies ramming their buses against each other's at the intersection of Allen St and East Broadway
    • Starbucks in the middle of Williamsburg Bridge
    • Top-to-bottom Neck Face piece on the F-train
    • My roommate's dog laying on the floor
    • Impromput Arcade Fire concert on an East River barge with special guests Kele Okereke, Alec Ounsworth and Phil Collins

    Maybe this is God telling me to drop a couple of grands on a real man's camera. I would, God, but I'm getting a new laptop in the coming months and I can't make any other big purchases for the time being.

    Ugh. I feel powerless.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    I'm pretty sure Curbed will link to this post on Monday

    Hey, remember that Starbucks whose arrival at the corner of Allen and Delancey Streets, for all intents and purposes, signaled the end of the Lower East Side and led to a mass hipster exodus to Battery Park City? Well, it's open now.

    Unfortunately, my camera decided to stop working for the weekend so the drawing below will have to do for now.

    Meanwhile, Baylor University asked its on-campus Starbuckses to pull cups with a quote from a gay poet. A Baptist college in Waco, Texas has a problem with gay people? Who woulda thunk it?

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Linkatharsis: At least we're not Duke

  • extrawack! has Asobi Seksu and Gil Mantera's Party Dream pics from Wednesday night. I'm glad I caught Gil Mantera even though I was dead tired. I haven't seen a band that fun since the Hives in the Bowery Ballroom in 2002. I hope to never see Gil Mantera again.

  • The campus paper at my alma mater is run by a bunch of fucknuts. I actually talked about this in the comments section over here. Feel free to join the discussion.

  • One Louder encourages you to watch He-Man doing the 4 Non Blondes.

  • Oh snap! (Gawker)

  • Oh snappier! (YM)

  • Back in June, the Jets were all, "I'm so getting my own place! In the City! No more sharing bathrooms and concession revenue! No more dishes piling up in the sink!"

    Oh, how things change. Now the Jets are all, "Me and the Giants found this place. We're going to sign the lease soon. Yeah, it's in Jersey. I guess I'm okay with it."

  • Yahoo's a poo poo face for snitching on a Chinese journalist, which is fine if they were just email providers. But you gotta question their integrity as a news source, especially since they now have a, um, beefcake war journalist on staff.

    I guess this stuff is going to come up more often, given how reliant their economy is on high tech, yet they want to maintain control over communication and contents. Also, the Chinese dig webcams.

  • Have a good weekend, everyone.

    The OC Season 3 Episode 2: Ryan Being Ryan

    Previously: Season 3 Episode 1: Dear Summer

    So, this being a recap, there are spoilers in here. If you cool kids were busy doing your CMJ thing and plan to watch this episode at a later time, you might want to click away. There's lot of porn on the internet. Check it out.

    Anyhow, now that we've conveniently shipped Trey out of town, it's time for school. Yay! Senior year! But here's the thing - over a thousand parents have signed a petition to have Ryan and Marissa kicked out. Now, I could be wrong here but Harbor seems to be a pretty exclusive school - does it even have a thousand parents (500+ students)? Isn't the whole point of sending your kid to a private school so they learn in small classroom settings? What do I know? I keep forgetting "Orange County" is a figment of Josh Schwartz's imagination.

    Second - aren't juvenile criminal records and stuff sealed? I can imagine people talking, but how would they really know for sure?

    Oh, just for your information, Ryan/Ben McKenzie turned 27 this Monday. You know what that means? During the first season of the show, you had a 26-year-old guy making out with Marissa/Mischa Barton, who was 17 at the time. Fun.

    As for the other actors, the late Caleb/Alan Dale is 58, Kirsten/Kelly Rowan is 38, Sandy/Peter Gallagher is 50, Seth/Adam Brody is 25 (which means Kirsten had Seth when she was 13), Summer/Rachel Bilson is 24, Julie/Melinda Clarke is 36 and Jimmy/Tate Donovan is 41.

    Speaking of Jimmy (this post is all about the segues, isn't it?) did you notice that he's listed in the opening credits as "special guest star"? Unless Schwartzy is doing an homage to Heather Locklear's lifetime "special guest star" status on Melrose Place, we have to believe Jimmy will leave this show sooner than later. And lemme tell ya, he's not looking good right now. Re-proposing to Julie so he can get his dirty little hands on Caleb's inheritance? Gotta give points for creativity but it won't be pretty when Julie finds out from the lawyers that (a) Caleb was broke, (b) Caleb left all the money to Kirsten and Haylie or (c) Julie is off the will if she remarries. Oh boy.

    Okay, back to the Cohens. Sandy tries to drag Kirsten out of rehab but she's acting all weird, possibly lesbian. Sandy tells her that the kids miss her, which is a total lie. They hardly ever talked to her - hell, Kirsten didn't even know Ryan was dating that cute girl from Spring Break Shark Attack, and they didn't know she almost had an affair with her magazine editor dude. Anyway, she ends up going to her Single White Female friend's cabin by the lake, which I'm pretty sure was used before for an 80's thriller flick or a Cinemax porn. Sandy doesn't like it but he's always been a wuss about his wife's self destructive behavior.

    Okay, back to Marissa and Ryan's expulsion. I always like it when Dr. Kim's on, not just because she singlehandedly fills The OC's minority quota, but Rosalind Chao has such a nice ring to it. If I have a daughter, I'm naming her Rosalind Chao Toyoda.

    So Dr. Kim tries to play Good Cop because she's all supportive like that, and if it were up to her, Marissa and Ryan will stay at Harbor. But the school hired a "Dean of Discipline", who reminds me of one of the jocks from Revenge of the Nerds. And "Hess"? Did they go through the 1941 Nazi Facebook and look for a last name that sounds sort-of scary Aryan? Anyhoo, Dean Hess don't take no shit and true to the ways of the Cobra Kai, he shows no mercy for Ryan and Marissa.

    The board decides to expel just one of the two though and surprise! It's Marissa. All that drinking and lesbianism and cutting classes were fine, but shooting the guy who tried to rape her and is now trying to kill her boyfriend? We can't have that shit at Harbor.

    Jimmy and Julie now have to scramble to get Marissa into another school because she up and stormed into the Dean of Discipline's office and told him off, basically burning all bridges to Harbor and finds herself banned from school property. What private school would possibly take her? Hey, what about that boarding school Kaitlin goes to? You know, Marissa's little sister? Did she even come home for the summer?

    Meanwhile, Summer decides it's her mission to save Marissa's legacy of... something something, and decides she will usurp Taylor Townsend, who's been doing all of Marissa's work in the events committee anyway. Summer ends up successfully usurping Taylor for the time being and throws the bestest fall carnival eva!

    Back in the Cooper-Nichol mansion, Marissa tells Ryan that he's done enough. And she's right. Every time he tries to "help", he fucks shit up for her. Oh, but no. Ryan convinces her that the best thing to get over her sadness is to go to the school carnival. Great idea, Ry. Ryan, Marissa, Seth and Summer and back together, but not for long. The evil Taylor Townsend goes and tells evil Dean Hess, who stops the Ferris Wheel, grabs Marissa by the arm and begins to drag her out of the carnival. Ryan doesn't take kindly to this and... wait for it... a little more... punches Hess in the face. The Dean gets up, gives his best Cobra Kai grin and informs Ryan that he too is expelled from Harbor.

    As Ryan and Marissa exit the carnival, arm on each other's shoulder like fallen soldiers, they give a final evil eye to the Harbor assholes across the fence (oh, the symbolism!) as the acoustic version of Phantom Planet's "California" plays gently. It's like the first season again! Except they're both outcasts!

    Next week, Ryan gets laid.

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Bush = 21st Century FDR?

    Well, not quite. But we were never going to get New Deal-type mega-programs from Bush.

    I actually don't have any complaints about the Big Dumb Speechery. It went pretty much by the script - show sympathy, praise heroes, insert anecdotes, inject hope, lay out plans. And the plans were pretty extensive, enough to make even a liberal like myself wonder about all the bureaucracy (although the success would seem to depend on private charities).

    Other than the constant smirk (which I suspect is a muscular problem, actually) and the entrance seemed to be inspired by Jeff Probst delivering the Tribal Council votes to the Survivor finale, I thought he took the right tone - somber but encouraging.

    Lighting up St. Louis Cathedral was a nice touch - provided a quiet but powerful backdrop, as well as a wink-wink-nudge-nudge for the religious crowd. The solo setup spoke to his taking responsibility, I guess. Plus, using first responders as props would have come off shameless and an audience of evacuees would have been too much of a liability on live TV.

    The speech itself was fine, though I wonder if I just have lower expectations since his recent live TV appearances have been so shoddy. Now, let's hope he can get shit done.

    John Dickerson calls this "Bush's Second Second Inaugural Address" and it's hard to argue. He wasn't so much laying out a plan for the Gulf Coast as he was trying to set a new tone for the Administration - going back to that "compassion" thing that they left behind in November, 2000, actually admitting a mistake and addressing weaknesses. It's hard to believe that less than a year ago, we were talking about "political capital". Now, he's building from ground up, literally and figuratively.

    Admirable, I guess. But given the fuckups in Iraq and his Homeland Security* being exposed as an immobile bureaucracy, I wonder if too much damage has been done already.

    Ahead of Bush's Big Dumb Speechery tonight

    From this week's Newsweek, How Bush Blew It:
    Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.

    How this could be - how the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness" as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century - is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace...

    ... Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around... When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority.

    I always imagined that Bush surrounded himself with competent people, experienced minds who could make up for his lack of experience and/or interest in policy making.

    But the above excerpts highlight probably the biggest problem with the Bush Administration. It doesn't matter how brilliant his advisors are if they are not willing to give him the bad news, to tell him that, just maybe, his gut instinct might be wrong, that they think he may need to take a bathroom break to think things over. Because then they just become enablers of his instinct, and serve only to supplement, not complement, his strengths and weaknesses. The Administration, like Bush, ends up being all politics, no policy.

    So they trap themselves in Bush's bad ideas. They certainly do a good job of framing his ideas in a way that the people will buy it. It's fine when the script writes itself as it did after 9/11. What they can't do, to extend an awkward analogy, is provide customer care when consumers realize they'd been sold lemons.

    Rather than fix the products or offer improvements, Bush simply chooses to sell a new product, be it Social Security, elections in Iraq or repealing the estate tax. A fancy new product launch won't save Bush from the Katrina mess, of course. Not yet anyway. We'll just have to see what he has to say tonight, though I don't expect much more than the standard customer service rep script - show of sympathy, superficial assumption of responsibility and day-late-dollar-short plans.

    Linkatharsis: It's actually not that cathartic

  • Holy fucking shit. This changes everything - Gillette to introduce five-blade razor. This has been a long time coming, of course:
    What part of this don't you understand? If two blades is good, and three blades is better, obviously five blades would make us the best fucking razor that ever existed. Comprende? We didn't claw our way to the top of the razor game by clinging to the two-blade industry standard. We got here by taking chances. Well, five blades is the biggest chance of all.

  • I don't know which billboard came first but either way, this shit is genius, as reported by Adrants who also point us to the purdy iPod ad-wrapped trains in Bangkok. Heh heh, I just said "bang cock".

  • I know, I know, we know American Apparel's Dov Charney's a bit, hmmm, eccentric. But whatever, here's another profile, this time from Inc.:
    "We're a fantasy... American Apparel is make-believe. We can do whatever the f-- we want."

  • I don't know why I care about a store called "Girls Love Shoes" but well, it's opening today at the corner of Hester and Orchard:
    From 1970's disco platforms to cowboy boots and stilettos, more than 2,000 vintage shoes from the 1800's to the 1980's await shoe addicts at Girls Love Shoes, which opens today on the Lower East Side. Inside the snug boutique, you can slide your feet into designs by Charles Jourdan, Yves Saint Laurent, Stuart Weitzman and Andrew Geller in sizes 5 to 11.
    I guess it's part of the ripple of change coming below Delancey Street. But along with the gallery that just opened between Hester and Grand, changes be coming in BelDel.

    My block between Canal and Hester should be safe for another few months.

  • So yeah, the Brooklyn arena deal passes to no one's surprise. If only David Stern would stop ignoring me on instant messenger, I could tell him that a jersey with "Brooklyn" on the front and "JAMES 23" on the back would be the hottest shit since lava. Lebron can be a free agent in 2008, right?

  • Finally, from NPR's All Songs Considered podcast,the encore track from the 9/11 Sigur Ros concert, () (right-click+save), plus an interview with the band.

  • That's it. I think I may need a nap before The OC.

    The triumphant return of Asobi Seksu

    Caught the Asobi Seksu CMJ gig last night at Crash Mansion. When was the last time they played in New York? February?

    They sounded as good as they did the last time I saw them, new lineup and all. Played a few new songs with more emphasis on the "pop" part of dream pop. So that's the good news. The bad news is, they're going back to the studio to record the followup to their self-titled debut, so we might not see them for a while again. Or so I hear. Yes, I too thought they were busy recording this summer.

    Waiting for extrawack! to post his pics so I can steal them and put 'em up here.

    Feel compelled to point out how small the lead singer Yuki is every time I post about Asobi. But her size, especially considering how "big" they sound, is part of what makes them so appealing.

    The wall of sound at the end of every show - never gets old.

    Can't type in complete sentences as I stuck around for Gil Mantera's Party Dream who went far longer than I was prepared to stay, as entertaining as they were. They were favorably compared to Andrew W.K. (no really, that's a good thing) and the Party Dream delivered, and then some.

    A mix of aggro and homoerotica on stage. A lot of both. But they sounded great.

    I'll probably go back and retype this post when I'm more coherent.

    As for tonight, I'd check out Blackalicious (how often do they play on the East Coast?) and the incredibly hyped Lady Sovereign, but can't do the 6 pm showtime and it's Webster Hall, not always the happiest place on Earth. Laura Veirs and Amadou & Miriam at Hiro Ballroom might be worth checking out.

    On a non-CMJ note, public sale for Ben Folds at Radio City starts tomorrow at noon. I've already missed 4 (?) Ben Folds shows in the city, in-store performances included, and I really should go to this one. Just feels wrong to pay $30+ for a ticket, which is double what I'd normally pay for two tickets plus service charge. We'll see.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Linkatharsis: Unambiguously ambiguous

    The above photo amuses me. That is all.

  • Shaquille O'Neal probably cares about black people. He definitely cares about gay people.

    Over the past couple of years, Shaq has become one of my favorite athletes, mostly for what he does off the court. As with Kanye, the attention whoring and the petulance get old fast, but he's nothing if not incredibly generous.

    From the charity work he continues to do in Southern California, to helping pay George Mikan's funeral expenses to his ongoing work with Katrina relief, he puts some of that attention whoring (and considerable wealth) to good use.

  • Barry Bonds couldn't have timed his comeback better. Just weeks ago, America was angry with a capital 'A' about how them ballplayers wronged America with them steroids. I mean what could be worse than finding out something you'd secretly suspected but chose to ignore for years because you enjoyed following it?

    Amazing how much perspective the most catastrophic natural disaster in American history and images of bodies floating in water can give you. Welcome back, Grouchy.

  • Japanese senior citizen lost in New York, not quite as resourceful as Macaulay Culkin but still survives 2 days on the street.

  • As seen on Curbed, holy crap. And we were worried about a frickin' Starbucks?

  • Former Bruce Lee co-star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has fond memories of mentoring Michael Olowokowandi:
    "In practice one time he told me not to criticize him in front of the other players," Abdul-Jabbar recalls, "How can I help him if I can't provide critical analysis? He wanted me to take him off to the side. It was absurd."

  • Went to iTunes to give the new releases a quick listen. Based on 30-second samples, "The Minstrel Show" might disappoint, "Takk..." sounds fantastic, the new CocoRosie is promising, Elizabethtown OST seems blah except for the Ryan Adams track and the Super Furry Animals, I can't really get into.

    Then again, I've only listened to samples and Joey says I should get Little Brother.

  • The CMJ events I'm attending include.... hmm... maybe two, if I'm feeling particularly not lazy tonight. That's it.

  • How Landon Donovan saved American soccer, kinda.

  • Oh those wacky Germans and their fear of happiness (and possibly homoerotica).
    "Good team spirit is a fine thing to have and I'm someone who likes a harmonious atmosphere... But there is a danger if they all hug each other all the time. At the moment there's a bit too much love for each other in this squad."

  • Clap Your Hands Say Happy New Year, says Productshop
  • Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    For me, Seth Cohen will always be the #1 mancrush

    Yesterday, a commenter on this site made a throwaway reference to Anderson Cooper's sexuality and I returned it with a throwaway remark of my own. Then on my subway ride home, I skimmed through the latest issue of New York mag which happened to have a long ass feature article on Silver Haired Stallion's coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

    About midway through, Coop is asked about his sexuality and his response is adamantly ambiguous:
    "You know, I understand why people might be interested. But I just don't talk about my personal life. It's a decision I made a long time ago, before I ever even knew anyone would be interested in my personal life."

    Now, let's pretend for a moment that AC is straight. I am starting to wonder if maintaining ambiguity is the best way to live life as a straight man.

    At this point, Ace has probably has more to lose by announcing one way or the other. Chicks dig gay and ambiguously gay guys (though my girlish figure and naturally smooth chest seem to attract more dudes than girls). By allowing the public to believe whatever it wants to believe, he appeals to all while alienating no one. Enough red staters probably hate him for being part of the liberal media anyway, gay or not.

    Plus, someone under the media glare like Cooper can date a girl without scrutiny and pressure by passing her off as a beard. And if he were to break up with her, he needs not worry about the inevitable "See, I told you he was gay" comments.

    But the last thing you want to do if you want the gay rumors to go away is to do the Mike Piazza "I'm not gay" official statement. See, rumors are always going to be around but they hardly stay at the top of the news. Taking an official position only intensified the scrutiny. The best thing to do i

    (I do wonder what Anderson Cooper's official position is - I'm thinking on top, reverse cowboy. Mike Piazza is a catcher, obviously.)

    Granted, Piazza probably felt compelled to make the announcement since homosexuality is a little more taboo for athletes, considering that the life of a professional athlete is already pretty homoerotic, what with communal showers, locker room nudity, hard bodies, hugging, butt slapping, tight pants, fancy clothes, long hours spent together on the road and in hotels, etc etc.

    Despite whatever short term relief the press conference gave him (most likely none), Piazza will always be the guy who really wanted us to believe he was straight. The announcement just made people question other things about Piazza, like the fact that he had a mustache all through his 20s and well into his 30s, the metallic blond do he rocked for a while and that he seemingly overcompensates by dating Playmates (Who really wants to date a Playmate anyway? Feel her breasts to see if they're real? Have protected sex with her? Sure. But not date).

    Really, the best thing to do is to just accept that we're all a little bit gay - we all have our secret gay fantasies, right? - and not get all worked up over it. Because when you spend so much energy denying your gayness, you'll just think about it so much more and all you will think about is hot steamy gay sex.

    Much better to have all the options open, even if you only take one.

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Linkatharsis: Me me me me me me

    Man, NY Times is finally covering the hipster outrage over the Lower East Side Starbucks.

    And the fuckers did not bother to contact me for the story. What the fuck? I broke the story, dammit.

    Actually, a Curbed tipster saw it first, but I took credit, and isn't that what's important? I could have charmed The Times. I could have given them insight. Some choice quotes. Feigned outrage, even. But alas, no call or email from the Gray Lady.

    That's it, I'm going to go cry myself to sleep. A boy can only take so much heartbreak.

  • Eh, more real estate action on Delancey to add to the flurry of activities around Orchard and Broome.

    Speaking of the neighborhood, I just noticed about a week ago that the sign for Lolita Bras is now gone. This is an unfortunate development. I do not approve of this at all.

  • Five albums coming out tomorrow that I'm intrigued by:

    The trouble is, I'm not that excited by any of them. I like Little Brother a lot and 9th Wonder's production is always going to be on point but their work thus far hasn't been earth shattering. Cameron Crowe soundtracks tend to be listenable but rarely edgy. CocoRosie, Sigur Rós and SFA? Same deal as Little Brother, though I could change my mind about Sigur Rós.

  • Ani DiFranco performing from Knuckle Down on NPR's World Cafe. I know this album came out way back in January, but I haven't been listening to much DiFranco since I haven't liked her recent work. But I'm digging the first song she plays, "Manhole".

  • Via AdLand, for Bush, PR = action.

    You know, my take on Bush has always been that he's a fantastic politician but as a policymaker, he's not even inept, he's nonexistent. He certainly how to rack up big numbers in polls (recent results notwithstanding) and win elections for himself and the party.

    But what is his one defining policy? Homeland Security speaks for itself right now. "War on Terror" and "No Child Left Behind" are empty policies with fancy names. He couldn't get Social Security "Reform" off the ground.

    Bush has no problems when the script writes itself, i.e. post-9/11. And he certainly knows how to frame issues. But beyond helping his friends and their interest, what has he achieved beyond catchphrases and photo-ops?

  • Amy NewYorkology visits my old stomping ground Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden. And she's right about getting their by mid-afternoon. It's just way too packed on Friday and Saturday nights when it's nice out.

    I've always found it a great place to drink in the afternoon or just to chill on a weeknight.

  • Models get 3D nippleage on transit ad (I'm pretty sure it's safe for work).
  • Linkatharsis: Too drunk, too drunk to post

    I was going to do a long 9/11 post yesterday but I'm thinking, what's the fucking point?

    The ongoing Katrina disaster has dwarfed 9/11 on so many levels. While the terrorist attacks of four years ago was shocking, in retrospect, it was an event 50 years in the making and we should not have been surprised at all.

    And I'm not sure if there's anything I can say that I haven't already said. the fear, the helplessness that I felt walking from Midtown to Astoria, the anger and sadness I feel as I see this tragedy co-opted for political and commercial gains - none of that has changed over the past 4 years.

    I remembered 9/11 the same way I've done for the last 3 times, privately, as far away from the television as possible, wondering if anyone, including myself, understands the real lessons from that day.

  • Followed up the Friday night binge with another heavy night of drinking, but for a good cause. Nouvelle Vague were fantastic at Joe's Pub. Smooth and playful, just as you'd expect a French bossa nova new wave cover band to be. Especially delightful was the audience sing-along to "Too Drunk To Fuck".

    The Modern Age has pics. And brooklynvegan has tons more.

  • For the last couple of hours of Saturday night, I think I was singing the chorus for Bloc Party's "Blue Light" nonstop. I'm generally a happy drunk, but also an annoying drunk, it seems.

  • Found myself physically unable to get out of the house until 5:30 pm on Sunday. Only the Spicy Rizak could energize me enough to get me out to the Bowery Ballroom for Seu Jorge.

    Loved, loved the music, but man, people who talk at concerts need to be punched in the nuts (or the vagina). This was especially annoying at the beginning of Jorge's set, when he played two songs with his acoustic guitar before he brought his band out.

  • I had to duck out a little early though, as I just wasn't going to hold up physically. Would have been great any other night of the week - probably should have picked the Monday night show.

  • Attaching a bunch of music files at the bottom. Couple of Seu Jorge tracks, "Five Years" from the Life Aquatic soundtrack and "Tive Razão" from his latest Cru. Also, the pre-Jon Brion version of Kanye West's "Hey Mama" - I prefer the finished track better but take a listen to the stripped down production first, then listen to the one on the album.

    Another track getting heavy ro' on my iTunes is Nouvelle Vague's "This Is Not A Love Song". And finally, if you like NV, you'll probably like La Laque, who live in NY but sing in French.

  • Turn in the general direction of New Jersey and wish Maureen happy birthday. Then spin yourself around and do the same for Ian Holm (74), Linda Gray (65), Joey Pants (54), Fishbone bassist Norwood Fisher (40), Ben Folds (39), Liam Gallagher (33), Newport Beach's favorite former juvenile delinquent/current nerd Ryan Atwood (27) and future Celebrity Fit contestant Ruben Studdard (27).

  • So this must be the music rag equivalent of the 50 Cent vs Ja Rule or Lohan vs Duff beef - Blender vs Rolling Stone
    In a shot across Rolling Stone's bow, Blender magazine, which is owned by Dennis Publishing and has a circulation of 630,000, is coming out with its own list, 'The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born,' comprising only songs published after 1980. Their No. 1 song is Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean,' followed by 'B.O.B' by OutKast and 'Sweet Child o' Mine' by Guns N' Roses.

    "In the great tradition of rap records, it's an answer to the list Rolling Stone did in every way," said Craig Marks, editor in chief of Blender, who said that the Rolling Stone list was "a baby boomer notion of how our cultural history should be written,' adding 'the best music hasn't just been made by dead guys and by white guys in ponytails."
    Craig Marks is a white guy in his 30s.

  • Hermitude <3s Chinatown buses almost as much as I do.

    AWOL driver, bathroom stench, 2 hours behind sked and an unidentified object under bus? Yep, that's Today's Bus.

  • Did you know Gloria Vanderbilt is Anderson Cooper's mother? Why didn't you tell me?

  • Enough with the Seinfeld refs in ads, says Slate's Bryan Curtis.

  • Seu Jorge - Five Years
    Seu Jorge - Tive Razão (I Was Right)
    Kany West - Hey Mama (Demo)
    Nouvelle Vague - This Is Not A Love Song (Live)
    La Laque - Secret

    Saturday, September 10, 2005

    Not Linkatharsis. More like Linkburp.

    I would've posted yesterday evening if not for this little problem.

    So I ended up meeting up with friends I haven't seen in 1 to 5 years, crashed an industry function open bar in every sense but the literal, and found myself wide awake at 5 am thanks to the vodka tonic-induced dehydration. Good times. Alas, water in my ear is annoying the crap out of me. Not good times.

  • Murph in Vermont caught Clap Your and the National, and reports he "got to witness what happens when a band gets caught in the wake of another band's success". No, it's not just the mass exodus after CYHSY's set. There's more and it ain't pretty.

  • Catching Nouvelle Vague at Joe's Pub (Telecharge) tonight and Seu Jorge at Bowery Ballroom on tomorrow (TicketWeb). If you're going to be at either of the shows, give me a holler and I'll buy you a beer. A cheap beer.

    Both dates are sold out (at least via web outlets) but you can still catch Nouvelle Vague on Tuesday and Seu Jorge on Monday. You really should.

  • While I'm sitting at 88 Orchard, half reading a book and half daydreaming, a dude rolls by on a unicycle. No one bats an eye. I like my neighborhood a lot.

  • Catch y'all next week. Stay safe.

    Thursday, September 08, 2005


    In 3 hours, if you're in Eastern or Central time zones.

    I might as well liveblog this, right? Oh, I'll at least do a recap.

    As for the big question, Trey's pretty much dead, I think, especially considering the actor who plays him won't appear in future episodes.

    The good news is, Jeri Ryan's doing an episode or two.

    Oops. Also, Jery Ryan = not hot.

    Retake: Late Registration

    I usually don't do album reviews, but since I poopooed the Pitchfork/Rolling Stone orgasmia over Mr. West's Opus, I figure it's only right to do one since I've had a chance to listen to it a few times (and boy did I ever).

    You know what? It grew on me. This is good stuff. Gone are the sped-up chipmunk vocals that were his signature on College Dropout and Jay's Blueprint and replaced with even more layers upon layers of sound and it creates a... I'm stealing someone's line here, but a cinematic soundscape. Jon Brion's influence is obvious.

    The high point for me, and the track that is getting repeat upon repeat upon repeat play on the iPod is "Hey Mama". If you took 2Pac's "Dear Mama" and cheesed it up by about 400%, this is what you would get, though the production makes it work. The "la la la" background vocal hooks you in, then Jon Brion brings some of that Punch Drunk Love shit and heaps about 3 more layers of sound on top. Beautiful stuff. But my favorite element is the hand clap, which doesn't come often enough. Seriously, listen for it - quite possibly the best use of a hand clap as a secondary sound since "Jack and Diane".

    I went back and listened to the demo version of "Hey Mama" that was sitting in my hard drive and totally forgot about. The vocals are the same but the background only consists of the "la la la" and a drum beat. It's a strong track but the extra layers really push it to a next level.

    The album certainly isn't without its low points. "Gold Digger" is forgettable, almost as out of place as "Change Clothes" on The Black Album. "Bring Me Down" with Brandy was much better when it was "Wack Niggas" on Talib Kweli's "The Beautiful Mixtape". And there's nothing particularly wrong with "Touch the Sky" but the Curtis Mayfield sample is as unsubtle as it gets - weird, because I loved his Nina Simone "Sinnerman" sample that drove Talib's "Get By" but, I don't know, it's too easy?

    But back to the positives, "Heard 'Em Say" is surprisingly listenable, even with Maroon 5's Adam Levine doing his blue-eyed soul thang, and "Roses", the other mama ode on Late is outstanding.

    I like, not love this album. I still prefer College Dropout, which is tighter (not necessarily better, however) musically and thematically. But I can certainly see why the critics jumped on this one. It's the most ambitious hip hop album since... well, dare I say ever? It does succeed for the most part. The fillers are forgivable, though they are still fillers.

    Oh, and I think Ian of Sexy Results! is spot on with his assessment that "Kanye is obviously trying to position himself amongst the likes of Stevie and Prince, but the problem is, those two have legacies that are based on songwriting, as opposed to mere cult of personality".

    Also, Slate's Hua Hsu examines how a man who openly admits to his lack of street cred came to be the biggest name in the game.

    Linkatharsis: Back like bacne

    I seem to have fallen off the Hurricane Katrina wagon but it's not like everyone wasn't covering it so I'm sure I wasn't missed one bit. Cole Slaw Blog has done an especially great job of analyzing this and that, and I'm not just saying that because I love sites named after vegetable-based side dishes.

    There was going to be a long Kanye/Bush rant, what more is there to say? No politician cares about black people, just black votes, and Democrats need those more than GOPers. And is there any doubt a key swing state, say Florida, would have gotten help quicker? Or why Bush has spent more time in Biloxi than New Orleans?

    I'll try to get back on track over the next day and a half. What else has been happening?

  • We'd leave no one behind, Mike says. We'll see about that.

  • Bob Dole still doesn't get it, a journalistic shield law does NOT protect sources who use journalists to commit a crime.

    It's pretty simple, Bob. You know how criminals can't use attorney-client privilege to communicate with each other in order to commit a crime? Same deal. In Judith Miller's case, the journalist was the medium by which Karl Rove or whoever leaked Plame's name.

    Don't you hate it when a politician doesn't understand the very law he's proposing? This is Intro Media Law shit.

  • I don't get it, but I still think it's funny: Support Gay Judge Roberts

  • Wait, so did Fox 5 pull the ad because the dude introduced his life partner, or because of the Bush bashing?

    What do I think? I think Ellner and Fox 5 are conspiring on this - Ellner needs the attention and Fox 5 is cementing its right wing cred at News Corp. You gotta keep up with NY Post's nuttiness, right?

  • Probably the best Gothamist interview, ever. Really.
    How about when Pearl Harbor happened. What was the mood? Do you remember that?

    I turned the TV on and I just seen them coming down.

  • VW drops Arnold, moves to Crispin. I know, most of y'all don't care but this is huge. Crispin's been on a hot streak lately, especially with their Burger King work. Meanwhile, Arnold, the agency that singlehandedly revived Nick Drake's career posthumously loses its only big client.

    And to show the advertising world it's not fucking around, Crispin goes out and gets Sprite.

  • From political football to football politics - Saints might be done in Nawlins for good and ditto for the Hornets.

    Can you blame them, really? The Saints never did like playing in the Superdome and their gate receipts are going to take a huge dump if they come back in '06. You think the NO business community's going to spend much on luxury suites in the coming years?

    Meanwhile, the NBA didn't like the idea of the Hornets moving from Charlotte either, but the ownership burnt every bridge before skipping town and I don't think the Commish was too heartbroken to see the team struggle to fill New Orleans Arena.

    Plus, we're talking about a city that lost an NBA franchise to Utah of all places. Now, the questions is how the Saints and Hornets will try to move without coming off like jackasses.

    But you do what you have to do, including keeping police officers out of your liquor cabinet:
    [NO police officers] commandeered [a luxury suite] the first night, but it flooded and they had to leave.
    Saints owner Tom Benson's suite had been filled with bottles of top shelf liquor, ornamental iron and fine furniture.

    'We were told we had to stay out of this suite,' Blanco said.

  • If you're using "____ is the new ____" and "bling" unironically and it's 2005, you just might be trying a little too hard.

  • Slate has a nice little discussion going on Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bait and Switch". I enjoyed her "Nickeled and Dimed: On (not) Making It in America" quite a bit and disappointed to see that this one doesn't seem to be up to par. In "Nickeled", Ehrenreich gave a wonderful insight on the impossiblityof making it on pay from low wage jobs alone. But a similar experiment doesn't work with white collar jobs where experience and contacts are essential. Sure, it's hard to find a job these days, but it's made all the more impossible when you manufacture another identity as you could with minimum wage jobs, where employment is essentially based on your willingness to take jobs that others won't.

  • It's no Category 5 hurricane or anything, but typhoons are deadly too.

  • Does Sarah Silverman have to choke a bitch? One can only hope.

  • Bush wants an investigation? I'd go after the guy who stuck FEMA under the Dept of Homeland Security, and then hired Brown and Chertoff, for starters.

  • Fired over two slices of pizza.

  • Underwhelmed by Motorola's iTunes-enabled phone but pleasantly surprised by iPod Nano. And they have it in black. Cool.

    Oh, and did anyone else download the new iTunes and find this?

    Now, you have to enter the lyrics yourself, at least for the stuff you already own/stole off the internet, but I'm guessing iTunes downloads are going to have lyrics now? From what I understand, only the Nano displays the lyrics but it's a nice little feature.

  • Jack Shafer is quickly becoming my favorite writer, this time presenting the case against rebuilding New Orleans. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't agree with him - the city is too essential commercially, but it seems much of the outcry against Hastert came from purely sentimental POVs.

    The fact is, thousands of New Orleans evacuees are willing to say good riddance to the Big Easy, and the city ain't all French Quarter and Mardi Gras. If they're going to rebuild the thing, we better be damn sure we don't create a Third World city again, lest we go through the same shit when the next big hurricane hits.

  • Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis releasing her solo ish next January, reports Gumsy. In the meantime, you can catch Miniskirted Jenny's solo work here.

  • I'm now convinced, Carolina's title defense might be difficult.