Monday, October 31, 2005

Big Apple Blog Festival

Big Apple Blog Festival (BABF)

Welcome to the Big Apple Blog Festival (BABF) for October 31, 2005, a representative roundup of the last week's posts by NYC bloggers.

  • Last week started with the firing heard around the New York blogosphere, as Condé Nast freelancer/blogebrity Andrew Krucoff was escorted out of 4 Times Square. Krucoff tells his side of the story. Though according to the commenters on this Gothamist post, this news is only of consequence to the "blogger elite". There's a blogger elite?

  • According to Manhattan Offender, 7 Eleven may already be in decline as the novelty has worn off and the hipsters have moved on to a newer ironic merchandise-du-jour.

  • What about the plastic animals? looks at the changing avenue signage in Upper Manhattan.

  • This Is What We Do Now asks the all important question, which subway line is the fairest of them all?

  • This Overheard in New York entry finds two girls who really know what's important when you live in New York.

  • Gotham Gal reviews Lupa in NoHo and Bread in SoHo.

  • City Rag offers some East Village and Lower East Side delivery tips.

  • The Assimilated Negro, fresh off his odes to Dodgeball and Gawker, makes a musical pitch for a writing gig.

  • Brooklyn Vegan reports on the return of Depeche Mode and the ridiculous ticket prices on eBay.

  • Shithouse rat reminisces on life in New York as she prepares to move to the outer boroughs and looks back on the Greenwich Village of yore.

  • Later last week, a mysterious, syrupy scent engulfed New York, prompting Petroleum Jelliffe to wonder where it could come from while The Daily Dump fears the worst.

  • New York hack, everyone's favorite cabbie/blogger (cablogger?) had a pretty rough Thursday night.

  • A Guy in New York gives us a roundup of last week's NYC restaurant reviews.

  • Before Sunday morning's televised mayoral debate, Copyranter wondered if anything could make a dent in Bloomberg's lead over Ferrer. My guess is "nothing short of Veronica Corningstone rewriting Bloomy's cue card".

  • Straight Bangin gives us his spin on the upcoming NBA season.

  • Finally, next week's Big Apple Blog Festival will be hosted by your favorite NYC conservative blogger Dave Friedman, who blogs about blogging.

  • The Big Apple Blog Festival is listed on the ÜberCarnival page and in Carnival News.

    To nominate your favorite blog post about NYC, or if you have a NYC blog and want to see something in the next BABF ... or you have a NYC blog and would like to host an upcoming BABF ... send us a short write up and a permalink to aguyinnewyork [at] ... or use the Carnival Submit Form ... see you next week ...

    You are free to repost the Big Apple Blog Festival so long as you leave this URL attached:

    Saturday, October 29, 2005

    Saturday evening posting

  • Well, it was fun while it lasted:

    Actually, it wasn't fun at all. We were that close to securing John Bunting's job for another year again. But really, did anyone actually believe that UNC could hold on to a 9 point lead on the road?

  • As Blue States Lose makes its return via Gawker, Merlin Bronques of Last Night's Party is profiled in Times Sunday Styles.

  • Ian of Sexy Results! writes the post I tried to write couple of weeks ago - scroll down about halfway down the page, towards the end of the Simmons dressdown, past the Michael Bolton pic. Or you can read the whole post.
  • Friday, October 28, 2005

    Linkatharsis: Syrupy blogger sex

  • Only in New York are people so threatened by a pleasant, syrupy smell that it's newsworthy. Though I guess that's a step up from reporting nothingness.

  • Recent days have not been kind to bloggers, but Adweek vanity project Adfreak goes diving on the deep end defending a NJ Catholic school's banning of personal pages on the net, ending the piece with the ridiculous line "Schools should have leaders who can make decisions, not ones who act like ACLU lawyers."

    Please. Let's punish the victims, won't we? If bullying and harassment were a problem, there are built-in steps to counter them, including blocking user names and IP addresses. Protecting kids from predators? Why not teach kids common sense, like not posting contact information and shit? If the object is to teach "common civility, courtesy and respect", then why not do just that? Banning personal pages is the online equivalent of saying "Johnny, we want kids to stop making fun of you so please stop wearing those ugly glasses to school."

  • To promote the release of the Sex And The City full series DVD HBO is offering a free tour of SATC-featured NYC landmarks. The tour presumably ends with a drunken, and ultimately unsatisfying anonymous sex with a handsome stranger, followed by a graphic play-by-play recap over brunch.

  • Our friend at 16 Horsepower has a nice little series going called Made/Remade, comparing covers and originals. Last week, "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath/The Cardigans and this week, "The Drugs Don't Work" by The Verve/Ben Harper.

  • Speaking of The Cardigans, more mp3s here, here and here.

  • Let BBC tell you what your brain sex is. I'm an average male, but with some distinctly feminine abilities. Heh.

  • More technicolor hippie Across the Universe shit on Rivington Street on Flickr.

  • Fairly awesome iPod Nano promo in Tokyo. No word on whether the screen cracks on these fake Nanos too.

  • New Orleans Saints owner: we're not quite ready to announce that we will abandon you at your time of need:
    "After reviewing the reports about our team and the abundance of wide-sweeping negative media commentary and columns, I offer this: No decision has been made about the future of the team," the letter said. "We have continued to operate and represent the city and fans of New Orleans. When the time is right and the factors that are yet unresolved are resolved, a decision of the future of the team will be made."
    In short, "We love you so much, we're not going to tell you we'll dump you, yet."

  • That's it. Enjoy the extra hour of drinking and dress slutty for Halloween. Well, dress slutty in general.

    My flaming liberal ass is going to miss Harriet Miers

    And no, not just because it renders Harriet Miers's Blog irrelevant or because she was going to be my Halloween costume.

    Look, I won't lie, I enjoyed watching the Republican infighting. Watching Bush squirm and look off his game is one of those small victories I have learned to savor post-November 2004. It's absolutely hilarious seeing the social conservatives finally realize that maybe the neocons in the White House really don't give a fuck about Jaysus. Republican Senators gleefully kicking their President while he's down? Delightful.

    Bbbbbbbbbbbut, I fear that all this is only a temporary opiate. The Bush Administration is nothing if not shrewd, and the timing of Miers' withdrawal tells me they got their shit together. The announcement was made on the morning of the day the Plamegate indictments were expected to be announced. Now it looks like Fitzmas Day will be delayed another day, but the desired result was partly achieved - much of the media focus remained on the indictments did not come down and took some of the gaze off the Miers debacle.

    What's worse, at least as far as the Supreme Court nomination goes, the utter failure of the Miers nomination has made life much easier for Bush. What Bush seems to do well is to lower expectations enough that mere competence becomes a grand victory, and such will be the case for whomever he nominates next. He is no longer politically obligated to nominate a woman (though Edith Brown Clement, Priscilla Owen et al are still possibilities) or a minority. He merely has to nominate a justice with experience and does not speak in codes on the religious right's pet issues, and Democrats who dare call a wingnut a wingnut will do so at the risk of carrying the "obstructionist" label.

    And whoever steps in the place of Miers will, as George F. Will told Nightline, more "intellectually muscular" and harder to dismiss.

    Finally, unlike a Supreme Court justice, Plamegate will be but a footnote in history as long as both Bush and Cheney have managed to maintain plausible deniability. The next SCOTUS justice will be less Souter and more Scalia.

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    When roommates are heard, not seen

    One of the realities of living in New York is that you gotta compromise something. You make a list of the 10 requirements for an ideal apartment, rank them, and say good bye to requirements #4 through #10, and you got yourself the most perfectest apartment you can afford. So if you want a vibrant neighborhood and affordable rent, you have to be prepared to give up, say, your own place, space and any hope of getting to sleep before the bars close.

    When I moved to my current Downtown pad from Astoria, I gave up a roomy two-floor apartment with abundant natural light, a spacious newly renovated kitchen and use of my roommate's furniture because I wanted a shorter commute from a Below-14th location. Plus, I was going to save $50 in rent and hundreds in energy cost a month.

    So all in all, it's a good deal, and I don't even mind living with two other people. We're rarely around and awake at the same time, and they are both good company on the few occasions that they are around when I'm home.

    Which isn't to say I don't encounter complications. One night last week, I sat in my bedroom at my computer not downloading pornography when I heard the unmistakable sound of a woman in pleasure, loud enough that it could be coming out of the living room. A trip to the kitchen revealed why - my roommate's door was cracked, nay, partially open.

    Now, I don't have a problem with anyone getting lucky in my apartment. It's what kids do these days. I've certainly had worse, including a traumatic sleepover at age 17 and a self-loving college dormmate who mistakenly assumed I was already asleep. My best friend in college and housemate for two years dated a couple of screamers who would not allow a mere wall to stop her from sharing her love for my friend and god with the rest of the house. I could hear them so clearly that if something should ever happen to him and I had to step in, I was sure I could do an adequate job (albeit very reluctantly). And on at least one occasion, I may very well have mortified a roommate's girlfriend with the sight of my airborne asscrack when I failed to close my door completely. It happens - when salvation is within reach, whether anyone else can hear or see the magic becomes immaterial.

    But here was the thing - I was getting ready to order takeout, and not knowing my roommate's gentleman caller's stamina, what happens if the delivery guy arrived at the height of intimacy? What will he think of her? What will he think of me? Do I go close the door myself? No, too awkward. Turn up the music? Too obvious.

    Unable to come up with any other options, I resigned myself to calling the order in and picking it up myself. This turned out to be the right decision, as when I came back with my food, love was still in the air. I quietly stepped past the room and into my bedroom, shut my door, wore my headphone and lost myself in music in Malaysian noodles.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Incomplete thoughts: Are you walking the dog or is the dog walking you?

    As I sit toweled and shivering on my bed post-shower, the first thing that pops up on my RSS reader is this: Memo Passed On; Job Is Lost - New York Times and I immediately know it's one of two things, some White House business (unlikely) or the Andrew Krucoff firing from Condé Nast.

    It's too bad the article is super short because there are a bunch of issues to focus on. At the risk of getting all Arianna Huffington, the first thing that comes to mind is the power of the blogs, specifically its ability to report what the traditional media cannot, would refuse to, or simply would not think to. Now, this is a subject that's been beaten to death, especially in the run up to November 2004, but that debate focused entirely on political blogs and the separation of the internet into left and right. And I don't remember single posts, rather than a series of posts or a trend, being the story.

    Which gets me to my second thought - so we've gotten to the point where the media is reporting on a blog that reports about the media, have we? It's really an amusing cycle of life - a reporter trolls the blogs for story ideas, the blog will inevitably report on the story, the newspaper will follow up, and so on and so on. The key here, I guess, that the media recognizes the influence that blogs have, and stories that get "Most Emailed" and "Most Read" status are probably getting linked on Gawker or Media Matters.

    And it's obvious that Condé Nast takes the 'sphere seriously. Though they're so caught in their old way of thinking that they mismanage the situation, coming off looking like jackasses every step of the way. The memo in questions was as innocuous as a memo could be, yet CN went to the trouble of searching the contents of its employee emails to uncover the leak - that must make Conde Nasties feel comfortable. The spokeswoman insists AK wasn't fired, but merely "told... that his services were no longer required". Yet, as the article was pointed out, he was escorted out of the building, Corporate America's equivalent of dead man walking.

    Then there's that privacy and non-disclosure thing. If we're going by the letter of the law, yeah, if you forward an internal document to someone outside the company, you're violating the confidentiality agreement you signed (and AK presumably did) when you were first hired. I've signed a few of those too, not that they've ever stopped me from, say, talking shop with my art director in the elevator or anything. It's really a Gawker complex, isn't it? Surely AK wasn't the only person to tell an outsider that the office internet was down. Perhaps he's paying the price for all past and future Condé Nastie leaks? Um, I'm going to stop before I start making Jesus comparisons.

    Finally, there's that pesky privacy issue. Sure, I know the company line - you're on company time, using the company equipment on the company server. Still, there is some expectation of privacy, isn't there? If emails can be read for something so harmless, wouldn't it make just as much sense to record water cooler conversations?

    (And Gmail isn't always an option - last night, I was talking with a friend whose employer has blocked all web-based emails. The policy is ostensibly to cut down on personal use of the computer but I suggested to her that maybe it's to make tracking employee communications easier by narrowing their options.)

    Oh, I don't know. But I've been typing for way too long (did I actually spend 30 minutes writing this shit? Yes, yes I did), I'm hungry and I need to put some clothes on.

  • Rosa Parks rides the big bus to the sky. R.I.P.

  • You probably missed last night's Death Cab Conert in DC like I did.

  • Also,
  • Monday, October 24, 2005

    All about me, for the most part

    I know what you're thinking, "Hey Mr. Spinachdip, you haven't posted a Neck Face tag in a while." And you're absolutely right. Which is why I'm rectifying the situation right now.

    More Neck Face photos on Flickr by myself and others.

  • I will be making a sort-of major announcement in a couple of weeks. To be honest, I'm not sure what exactly I'm going to announce. It could just be one of those "Everything is great, stay the course" things that George Bush likes to do. Who the fuck knows. I'm still trying to decide but I will have a better idea next week.

  • On October 31, spinachdip will host Big Apple Blog Festival, a roundup of the previous week's posts by New York bloggers. If you have any suggestions for posts or sites that should be featured, please feel free to drop me a line.

  • Since I missed last Wednesday's Lost, I figured it might be a good chance to test out the iTunes Video Store. Not bad - the download is fairly quick given the size (about 120 MB for a 40-minute episode) and the picture quality is good.

    My gripes are that episodes aren't available until the Friday after they air, you don't get the teaser for next week's episode, and the video is so heavy that if you have an older, slower computer, like my ancient 2001 iBook, it got stuck on a single frame for a whole minute. It played fine on a PowerMac though. At $1.99 an episode, it can get pricey if you download every week but if you don't have DVR or forget to program your VCR, it's not a bad option to have.

  • North Carolina 7 Virginia 5
    That's football. American football. This is where I'm supposed to say "I'll take the win", especially after the debacle against Louisville. But really, all this does is take some heat off John Bunting's seat and that's nothing to celebrate. Here's my thing with Carolina football - unless we're competing for the ACC title, why try at all? I take spectacular disaster over unending mediocrity any day. At least there's a good chance that we'll be better next year. So yeah, let's go back to those 1-11 seasons, provided that the one win comes against Duke.

  • I don't like to talk shit about other sites, but has Gothamist gotten considerably lamer, especially on weekends? Or am I getting more discriminating in my taste?
  • Thursday, October 20, 2005

    Heavy rotation

    So I did a Top 15 Singles of 2005 (so far) couple of weeks back, but here are 10 songs that didn't make the 15 or I picked up recently but getting repeat plays on my antique 2003 Edition iPod.

  • Elliott Smith - "Thirteen" (Big Star cover)
    The big Elliott Smith story this week has been the newly discovered unreleased tracks but I'm digging his three cover songs on the Thumbsucker soundtrack. In any case, you can never have too many Elliott Smith songs. Unless you're feeling really down.

  • M.I.A. - "Everyday I Love You Less and Less" (live)

    I mentioned this a couple of posts back, but there's something about this track that I can't stop listening to it. I got tired of "Galang" and "Bucky Done" pretty quickly, but not so much with this one.

  • The Cardigans - "I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer" / The Cardigans - "Give Me Your Eyes"

    So the new album is out pretty much everywhere but the US and I'm still not sure if I should pay the import or wait for the US release, but after listening to three tracks off this, I'm thinking I should shell out the dough for this.

  • Jaymay - "The Only One I Love"

    I'm thinking Jaymay's one of those artists who people want to hear more of and would get radio play if she ever made it that far, but labels don't know what to do with her - she's a bit like Nora Jones without the jazz-nostalgia audience and a bit like Feist without the Broken Social Scenes connection. Then again, I didn't think Clap Yeah would blow up that big, so what do I know? Anyway, she's been putting serious performance time on the Lower East Side lately and the above track's from her Living Room residency earlier this year. There's more Jaymay mp3s here and here.

  • Rhymefest - "Build Me Up"

    Come for Ol' Dirty Bastard singing "Why do you build me up, buttercup baby", stay for the guy who wrote "Jesus Walks" saying things like "I wanna get up in that bush like Dubya".

  • Bloc Party - "Two More Years"

    I'm not sure what to expect from Bloc Party's next release. I'm prepared for a letdown but deep down inside, I'm hoping they would make mince meat out of Silent Alarm.

  • Ghostface - "Be Easy"

    There's never a dull moment at a Ghostface concert (except maybe the 3 hours between the door opening and the first act getting on stage), but it gets a little too exciting sometimes.

  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Maps"

    Sometimes, it takes a while to really appreciate a song, to get the hype or the backlash out of the way. In the case of "Maps", it was a whole year.

  • Blackalicious - "Your Move"

    I'm not sure what to make of this track. It gets my head nodding and Gift of Gab is still on my Top 5 of most technically gifted rappers, but there's just something about it. I like it, but I don't love it, which is disappointing since I've had such high expectations since Blazing Arrow. Yet, there's something really infectious about the production.
  • Linkatharsis: Not going out of business

  • Soccer's Li'l Baby Jesus whines about playing time. You know, I remember getting into a sideline argument with my JV soccer coach over getting subbed out of a game, but I was 14 years old and I didn't know any better. But shit, Freddy's a grown ass 16-year-old. Suck it up, I say.

  • Death Cab live on NPR, Monday 10/24.

  • I'm sure there's enough written about yesterday's NY Times Rachael Ray feature that was as ample as her bosoms, but I'll add my two cents.

    I have said before that she's great on paper yet somehow, her whole doesn't quite add up to the sum of her parts. But in her defense, most people who criticize her (beyond the obvious stuff like her voice and gratuitous acronyms) are missing the point. She's no Morimoto, sure. But really, her M.O. is about getting people who grew up on takeout and TV dinners to cook - it's not supposed to be fancy or low fat. The idea is to keep it simple and non threatening. She does achieve her goal and she is good at what she does, whether you like what she does or not. Shit, it could be worse - have you ever watched Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade?

  • Some people don't think it's such a good idea for a transit authority that has major infrastructure problems and a looming budget deficit to be giving out discounted fares. Crazy, I know.

  • How to get your favorite porn flicks on your spanking new Video iPod.

  • Pictures from the filming of Across the Universe on Flickr.
  • Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    Guns don't kill people, headphones do

    So people and the media are generally idiots about many things, particularly NBA's "business casual" dress code, but there are few voices of reason out there.

  • Mark Cuban shows why he should be everyone's favorite owner with his candor in explaining the real immediate motivation behind the dress code and calling out those who are happy to sell the NBA's "thug" image and the public who buys it
    For many teams, I dont even want to say most teams, if the team wants to try something different , they are truly afraid of how their players, particularly their stars might respond. Its the teams that are afraid of their players that forced David Stern into creating a Dress Code for players.

    Its funny how the media likes to talk about the fundamentals of the players on the court being lacking, the real lack of fundamentals is in the teams' executive suites. When a team is unable or afraid to communicate their message or iniative to their front office or players, or when they know they have a problem they are afraid or unable to deal with, they ask the Commissioner to create a league wide edict. This is a convenient out for the teams. Its not their fault that the players have to do this, its the league's fault.

    "If you look at NBA players. White, black, brown, yellow, whatever color or nationality, regardless of how they dress, and think thug. You are an idiot. I have said it before, and I will say it again. I have run companies with a predominantly young work force. My personnel issues were far worse in those companies than anything at the Mavs, or what I have seen across the NBA. Young kids makes stupid mistakes. Thats what 21 year olds do...

    I'm willing to bet that you could take the workforce of any major corporation, segment out all their employees 35 and under and without question, you would find far more problems and issues in their workforce on, in absolute numbers or on a percentage basis than you would in the NBA.

  • Joey of Straight Bangin points out the bloody obvious that people who support the dress code don't like to talk about:
    Report the real story: The NBA wants to change its image because stereotypes about black people and hip-hop culture have worked in concert with the regrettable actions of a few players and the regrettable presence of a few ugly hip-hop conventions to alienate largely white corporate partners who can't get past racial bias. Write that. Don't even make the corporate types seem like villains; like most of us, most of them probably can't overcome the socialization to which they're constantly subjected. And use that melancholy truth as a catalyst for a sustained nationwide dialogue about race. Why doesn't the NBA, for years a fascinating incubator for issues of race, lead the way? The problem will never get better if it is always ignored. This dress code is not only about race, but it is in part"

  • Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports thinks USA Basketball's hiring of Coach K and the dress code are motivated by the same public misconception fueled by the media:
    Perhaps the most shocking development to come out of the Athens Games for USA Basketball and NBA commissioner David Stern wasn't that we won only a bronze medal, but that maybe half of America wished we wouldn't do that well. The jersey may have said 'USA' across the front, but there were plenty of Americans enjoying every ugly, embarrassing defeat while watching supposed cocky, young, rich, African-American athletes get their comeuppance...

    Of course, if you want to know the problem with USA Basketball, there is no greater example than Odom.

    Not the real Odom, the one who played his ass off in Athens (seriously, he did) and happily played out of position at center because Tim Duncan kept getting into foul trouble, and the one who was a class act – like his teammates, save Carmelo Anthony – no matter how often Larry Brown trashed his players.

    That Lamar Odom was great.

    The problem is the public image of Odom – a bad-apple, underachieving, disinterested professional and ungrateful multimillionaire who's a product of a too-much, too-soon grassroots system that turns Middle America off.

    Odom isn't ever losing that rep. Not even by wearing the red, white and blue.

    Speaking of image problems, Julius Hodge is accused of attempted sexual assault. This is the third worst thing to happen to Hodge after taking a crotch punch from Chris Paul and attending NC State.

    Finally, it appears 'abnormalities' were found in Jason Collier's heart, which compels me to ask again, why does Eddy Curry refuse to take the DNA test (well, besides the obvious privacy/employee rights issues)? Or has he taken the test already but doesn't like the results? Either way, I'm uncomfortable.

  • Another one bites the dust

    They say death comes in threes. I don't know if that applies to NYC blogs, but here's number two for this week and it's a biggie.

    If Hermitude was the heart, Tale of Two Cities was the soul. Or something like that. I'd write another way-too-wordy obit but I'm kinda busy right now so I'll leave it at this - godspeed Joey, say hi to Jessica.

    Should I start a ghoul pool to see who #3 will be?

    Some hurt more than others

    I am a junkie for words. I'm subscribed to, like, 2,000 RSS feeds and I typically spend the first 7 hours of each workday reading news, blogs, commentary, reviews, whatever. But there are only few sites that I always read as soon as they update, and Hermitude in NYC was one of them.

    Early Tuesday, Hermitude in NYC (the blog, not the blogger) made its journey to the big bloggie park in the sky, never to return. Yeah, it's just one of the many, many sites I read everyday, but this one, I always looked forward to and will be missed dearly.

    I first came across the site after she linked to my grocery store post and kindly pointed out a grocery store near my apartment that I didn't know about.

    As soon as I started reading Hermitude, it went on my must-read list. This was a blogger who did not suffer fools or Stephanie Klein lightly. Her anecdotes were funny and insightful, called spade a spade without resorting to gratuitous meanness. She didn't drown us in self indulgence but still made us feel like we could get to know her and share her ups and downs.

    What I appreciated the most was that she never took this blogging thing more seriously than her real life (or that she had a life at all, unlike many of us) and looked at the blog culture with some bemused detachment. I gather that her real life is the primary reason behind ending Hermitude, to make room for bigger and better things. So I'm happy for her, even if it is a loss for us readers. I can only wish her good luck.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    How about "KASHMIR" or "BANDA ACEH"?

    Considering the stuff I write on this site, I'm the last person who should be telling people what is and isn't in good taste. Yet I couldn't help but cringe a little bit at the Neighborhoodies banner ad below:

    Now, Neighborhoodies doesn't seem like a particularly evil corporation and I appreciate the free daily mp3 downloads and all. And I guess the ability to create a topical hoodie is a major selling point.

    But using the name of a neighborhood that so famously suffered catastrophic losses and will take years to recover if at all, seems a tad bit exploitative, don't you think? I mean, what are we "representing" here?
    • "Yay, third world living conditions!"?
    • "Hooray, devastation and floating dead bodies!"?
    • "I like wearing things that seem edgy at first, but will look silly and culturally irrelevant within 6 months!"?
    At least they had the decency to put up a link to the Red Cross on their front page, but still.

    Danny de Zayas of Neighborhoodies left a response in the comments section and writes, in part, "[the 9th Ward t-shirt] was a way for us to show that the citizens of a recently decimated area continue to remain in our thoughts, a show of solidarity."

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    Linkatharsis: Everyday I love you less and less

  • A lot of stuff on the new iPod last week. Slow news week, I guess.

    Coolfer wonders if the $1.99 videos from iTunes will put the kibosh on price hikes on music, and Daring Fireball has observations on iPod and other Apple announcements (I have a feeling this is all going to add up to Apple becoming a home entertainment center).

    Heh. I have a 10 GB iPod from 2 years ago. It looks ancient compared to the shiny white (and black) things I see in the subway, but it plays just fine. The only thing is that it's pretty full, but I'm just not ready to drop $300 on what is essentially the same product with an extra bell here and a whistle there.

    Mark Cuban thinks TV show downloads will save network TV while network affiliates aren't happy about potential lost ad revenue.

    Meh. I guess regular TV has been losing audience for a while but the video iPod won't make a dent. People still want to watch shows on a regular TV, and there's no good way to watch downloads of local news or live sporting events. Plus, with shows that earn the most ad dollars, people still want to watch them as they are broadcast, to keep up with the water cooler chatter. If anything, allowing viewers to download episodes will help them keep up with a show and the viewers that the networks hold onto as a result can easily counter any lost ad revenue.

  • Like my fellow race mixer TAN, I'm glad Americans now support interracial dating. You guys rock. It's nice to be able to enjoy my passion without the judging eyes. And special thanks to 18% of white folks who have dipped into the rice bowl.

  • Zooey Deschanel, just because.

  • There's really no way to put a positive spin on a death of a young athlete, especially one who seemed like on of the good guys like Jason Collier.

    But it had me thinking - because of, rather than in spite of, his documented heart problems, Eddy Curry might be the luckiest guy in the NBA. While we can all take steps to prevent heart disease, when our number comes up, there's little we can do. At least with Curry, he knows he has a family history and he knows it's something he has to take care of. And he'll be heading to the hospital at the first sign of chest pains, rather than dismissing it and toughing it out. Should something happen on court, a medical team is going to be ready.

    If only the rest of us were so lucky.

  • Hardy fucking ha (via False 45th)

  • David Stern says players will be 'pleasantly surprised' by the NBA dress code. So no Men's Warehouse gift certificates for Marcus Camby?

    I don't know, I'm all for professionalism, but the NBA should always be careful about imposing any sort of dress code on players. Remember when Rasheed Wallace protested the shorts length rule by wearing short shorts and Air Force Ones? Or when Shaq actually tried on John Stockton's shorts?

  • Vikings hire Dean of Discipline to prevent repeat of the Fred Smoot Love Boat incident. Either that, or they're trying to keep all the orgies indoors.

  • God tells Allan Houston: "Dude, your knees is fucked - I can't do anything for you."

  • Shit, I wish Japanese politicians would stop visiting Yasukuni Shrine and playing dumb about it. Now, I appreciate that the prime minister is (at least openly) paying respect to those who gave their lives to Japan - I expect, nay, demand that. But the problem is that the Japanese government decided to throw the memorial for the war dead into a shrine, separation of religion and state be damned, a shrine that essentially promotes the most perverted of revisionist history. In the end, an official visit does nothing but legitimize the lunatic imperialists, appease the hard line conservatives in the LDP and piss off neighboring countries that suffered under Japanese colonial rule.

  • I like the cover better than the original Kaiser Chiefs song:
    M.I.A. - "Everyday I Love You Less and Less" (live)
  • Friday, October 14, 2005

    There is absoluely nothing worth reading on the internet today

    No, not even here.

    Well, other than that I have a new mobile phone that makes my fingers feel fat. Good bye Sprint, hello Catherine Zeta Jones.

    Have a weekend, preferably a good one.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Decline of East Coast hip hop and video games

    In my My Top 15/20 of 2005 list, I lamented how there was little hip hop that I enjoyed this year and that I didn't like Little Brother as much as I wanted to.

    And I have to ask the question - is East Coast hip hop, specifically the New York scene, dead? Or at least in a prolonged state of lull? The answer is "Yeah, probably" if 50 Cent is the reigning King of New York while Fat Joe and Ja Rule contend for the throne?

    Then I was listening to samples off 2K6: The Tracks over on iTunes and thought "This shit isn't half bad." It's the old boom-bap, the Jeep shaking bass that wouldn't sound out of place in the summer of '95.

    But isn't it a little silly to get excited over a video game soundtrack of all things? Is there no 2005 equivalent of Illmatic or Midnight Marauders or The Infamous or Illadelph Halflife, all the great albums that seemed to pop up every couple of weeks 10 years ago?

    I started typing this post thinking I'd reach some sort of conclusion but I really don't have an answer. Maybe I'm not paying close enough attention (Joey would probably tell me to listen to AZ). Or maybe Ghostface is the one to hang my hat on. I mean, who bridges the old and the new, the Jeeps and the backpacks better than Tony Starks?

  • Did Adam Levine of Maroon 5 find Justin Timberlake's Street Cred Card on the bathroom floor? First, he's singing the hook on Kanye's "Heard 'Em Say" (which he actually sounds decent on) and now, he's on Alicia Keys' Unplugged, doing the Stones' "Wild Horses" (not so good). Next thing you know, he'll be hanging out with ?uestlove and bumping John Mayer off the Token White Guy seat.

  • Have I mentioned Salon's Audiofile blog already? I probably have. I don't care, it's well worth the trouble of getting the Site Pass. The news items tend to be more mainstreamy but there's plenty of under-the-radar downloads. And the thing I like is that they post the archived mp3s on the left hand side. I wish more mp3 blogs did that.
  • Someone's traffic is going to go through the roof

    TAN gives Gawker and Sexy Jess some musical love:
    Cause it’s Gawker Stalker
    Popping the corkers
    Fat stacks cause all our trackbacks need a walker
    I mean, seriously.

    More Gawkiness via A Blog Soup.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    Linkatharsis: Blame it on the rain, blame it on the stars

    As the kids say these days, peep game: This Is American Soccer, found via the delightful alcoholics at We Call It Soccer.

    The crowning piece on the site is the 3-part series (with follow-ups to come as the season progresses) Kings of King, a story that is less about soccer than about the the lives of poor, minority youths in New York City. Adam Spangler follows NYC high school soccer powerhouse Martin Luther King High as it dominates the competition while its future hangs in the balance. I really can't do it justice. As the site's sponsor might say, just read it. My only complaint is the black on red text, but such is the price of a corporate benefactor.

    Kings of King: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

  • It ain't easy being an NYU freshman either, especially if you've had your eye on a pre-war apartment within spitting distance of campus. Turns out, co-op boards don't like listening to Bob Marley's Legend over and over and over and over again, even if the 'rents can totally pick up the tab:
    Faced with high prices and hostile co-op boards near NYU, some students are taking Mom and Dad's money farther afield - to the Twenties and Thirties, the financial district, and the far East Village. Tisch art student Ashley Macknicka had to head east of Second Avenue last year to find a 600-square-foot two-bedroom for $356,000...

    Oh dear, the poor things!

  • Jet Blue to Boston? Don't mind if I do. I mean, it's no Fung Wah, but still, it's cheaper than Amtrak and I haven't been to Boston in like 30 years. I should go sometime.

  • Daniel Craig is the new Bond, reportedly. Before, I wasn't quite sure if he fit the profile. But I was watching Layer Cake last night and thinking he could definitely pull it off. Smooth, albeit not Pierce Brosnan suave, and at times cheeky (sort of Connery-like). He might actually be better as a Bond villain than 007 himself though.

    Oh, and Sienna Miller.

    Also, Sienna Miller practically naked.

  • Warner Independent drops Strangers With Candy because of rights-related problems.

    A shame, that. I wasn't a big fan of Strangers back when it was on Comedy Central but Amy Sedaris really needs a vehicle beyond late night TV appearances. Hope they get a distributor soon.

  • You know there are certain bloggers I never discuss (mostly because I don't read them regularly)? If you love to hate on (or just love) those blogs that I don't talk about and want to discuss them, you can do it here, probably.
  • Isiah Thomas is George Bush

    There, I said it. No no, I'm not calling Isiah a dirty cocaine snorter or an evil Christain right-pandering neocon. And I'm going to stop making the "doesn't care about black people" joke already.

    This idea came to me following the much-criticized trade that brought Eddy Curry and his achy breaky heart to the Knicks. John Hollinger of ESPN goes into great detail so I 'll spare you the extra 2,000 words. Now, there is a chance that this trade will be a success for the Knicks, but only if all the likely variables go the Knicks way. We're talking about needing to ace all the finals to even stay in school next semester. I'm a fan of calculated risks. Russian roulette with five bullets, I am not so comfortable with.

    And then I thought, this is not unlike like Bush's handling of the Iraq War. Everything we were promised - that the Iraqi Army will be shocked and awed into submission, the people will welcome American troops with flowers, that the people will ratify an American style constitution, that Suunis and Shiites can play nice - turned out to be best case scenarios. And as it has become painfully obvious over the past 2 years, the Bush Administration never prepared for things going off-script and failed to consider anything but the best case scenario.

    Think about it for a minute - they fame landed their current gigs. And the the ones before - Isiah was adequate but not spectacular as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, likewise for Bush as Governor of Texas. They have a history of failure - Isiah ran the Continental Basketball Association into the ground while Dubya stunk it up in the oil business. They have had some success - Isiah proved to be a decent judge of talent as Toronto Raptors GM while Dubya landed a publicly-financed stadium for the Texas Rangers. Isiah generally does well in drafts, picking up Marcus Camby, Damon Stoudemire and Tracy McGrady for Toronto, Nate Robinson, David Lee and Channing Frye this year for the Knicks. Bush handled the draft by avoiding it all together.

    They like to surround themselves with the old guard - Dick Cheney, Larry Brown. But some don't work out so well or put up with the bullshit - Lenny Wilkens, Colin Powell. Each has a loose cannon calling the shots on the front line - Stephon Marbury, Donald Rumsfeld.

    But the most important similarity is their shared tendency to sacrifice the future for mediocrity today. Bush has all but abandoned the small government schtick of the old GOP and increased federal spending like no other president before while building up massive deficit. Why balance the budget when our children will pick up the debt? Isiah should have learned from his predecessor's mistakes and taken to reducing the Knicks' salary cap burden, but has instead built a squad of underachieving multi-year contract holders. I have to concede that Isiah has makes good use of draft picks when he has them, but to give up two draft picks for Eddy Curry?

    Again, I don't discounting the possibility that the Isiah Thomas Era in New York is a success. It's just a long shot dependent on the chips falling the exact right way. As for Bush, the best I can say is that he'll be out of office come January, 2009. Though it's hard to be optimistic if you believe like I do that Bush is not the cause, but a symptom of what ails this nation.

    Other NBA items:
  • It's bad enough that Amare will be out until the All-Star break but Marc Stein wonders if he can actually come back that fast. Either way, NBA's going to be a little less fun to watch.

  • Luke Walton out with 'severe' hamstring strain. Yikes. That's going to bother him all season, I think, and you gotta love Walton's game whether you like the Lakers or not.

  • At least there's still Stable Ron Artest, promising to play "out of control, like a wild animal that needs to be caged in". Yep, it's going to be a fun season. And he's 260 LB? I'm definitely not throwing my beer at Ron.

  • Marcus Camby needs money for suits if the NBA implements a dress code. Shit, just give him a Men's Warehouse gift certificate.
  • Monday, October 10, 2005

    Linkatharsis: Columbus Day - a day to celebrate half assed efforts

  • In case you haven't given all your disposable income to Katrina victims like I did, you can help earthquake victims in South Asia.

  • If someone made a movie about an urban barbershop starring a former NWA member, it would go something like this, right?

  • Unlike George Bush, Steve Jobs cares about black people, a lot.

  • New ish from The Cardigans: "I Like Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer" (via Gums)

    I'm still rocking to Gran Turismo myself. Has it really been 7 years since that album came out?

  • Our Katrina

  • Tee hee
  • Sunday, October 09, 2005

    Top 15 out of 20 Songs of 2005 (Part 3)

    If you've read Part 1 or Part 2, you know what the deal is. Enough jibber jabber. Let's get on with it.
    • The Spinto Band "Oh Mandy" (mp3)

      I can say with absolute zero sarcasm that I love Barry Manilow's "Mandy" (and not just because Can't Hardly Wait is one of my Top 10 movies of all time). However, if I were dating a girl named Mandy, I'd hesitate to put the song on any mix CD I'd burn for her since, oh I don't know, that would be cheesy and predictable.

      I would have no such reservation about "Oh Mandy". This song makes me want to meet a girl named Mandy just so I can put the song on and dance with her. Rifuckingdiculously catchy.

    • Spoon "I Turn My Camera On" (mp3)

      There's a certain 70's feel to this track, what with the discoesque drumbeat, bassline that wouldn't be out of place on Songs in the Key of Life and falsetto vocal. Yet, the end result is a great pop song that is decidedly 21st Century.

    • Stars "Ageless Beauty" (mp3)

      You know how some songs, you know from hearing the first couple of notes that you love it? This is one of those songs for me. If I were making a movie about my life, I'd use this for my "happy moments" montage. Or my death scene. I want a happy death scene.

    • Kanye West "Hey Mama"

      I've already written in detail about this track so I'll keep it short. They lyrics are Hallmark cheesy, 2Pac already made the definitive mama song while Kanye has another decent mom tribute with "Roses". But this one stands out because it's the perfect marriage of the soul heavy Kanye and the Jon Brion tink-a-tink.

    • The White Stripes "My Doorbell" (mp3)

      There just isn't enough piano in today's music. In fun pop songs, anyway.

    Now that I've throughly destroyed both my indie and hip hop creds, a few thoughts:
  • I wish there were more hip hop in there but 2005 is the Year of Houston and I just don't dig hip hop that can be described as crunk, dirty south, chopped or screwed. I'd probably get into the Houston scene more if I sipped syrup or owned a red car. Now, if this was 1995, I imagine 18 of my 20 would be New York hip hop.

    That said, I haven't listend to Blackalicious or Little Brother enough and I might put one or two of their tracks up at the end of the year. Dangerdoom's going to warrant some consideration too and I need to listen to more Ghostface.

  • Out of early October releases, I see a Fiona Apple song making the final 20.

  • More music that could make the list include Wolf Parade, Ryan Adams (whose Jacksonville City Nights is a better country album than anything coming out of Nashville all year), Broken Social Scene, Ponys and Jaymay. I can't remember if Jenny Lewis is putting out her solo album this year or next, but I like what I've heard so far - like her Rilo Kiley stuff but heavier on the alt-country-ish.

  • Songs that missed the cut include Ben Folds "Landed" (the album's slowly growing on me), Green Day "Wake Me Up When September Ends", We Are Scientists "Nobody Move", Sia "Breathe Me" (more for zeitgeist value than anything else), Sufjan Stevens "The Lord God Bird", Death Cab For Cutie "Marching Bands of Manhattan", Beck "Black Tambourine", and Seu Jorge "Tive Razão". I'm also not ashamed to admit I really, really like Coldplay's "Fix You" and Gwen's "Hollaback Girl". M.I.A., I'm pretty much over.

  • Yes, you are correct, Clap Yeah did not make the list. I like them okay. I just couldn't think of a song that stood out.
  • Friday, October 07, 2005

    Maybe I should give a little fuck

    So the New York subway is under threat which may or may not be credible depending on whom you ask.

    My reaction? What can you do? Whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, there's always a terror threat against the New York subway. That's the tradeoff I'm willing to take for living in New York.

    And when it happens, it's going to happen. The people who are going to succeed aren't the dumb ones who get caught. You look at London - they've been dealing with terrorism for over 20 years and they still couldn't prevent the attack. I don't mean to be all "If we can't stop them, what's the point?" No, I'm all for being vigilant and prepared. It's just that there's little to be gained from "raising" or "heightening" alert.

    What I do appreciate about London is how quickly they responded once the attack happened and probably kept the death toll much lower than it could've been. I have my doubts about NYPD.

    But really, I'm more likely to get stabbed by a crackhead or get shot for my iPod or have coffee spilled on me by some Park Slope chick than to die from a terrorist attack. It's hard to get worked up over Al Qaeda. Anyway, NYPD clearly doesn't think my line's much of a target - I've seen a total of two uniformed cops on the trains all year and I haven't encountered a single bag check. I think I'm safe. Well, as safe as one can be in New York City.

    Top 15 out of 20 Songs of 2005 (Part 2)

    Part 1

    So here we are, the part 2 of the 15 songs that might or might not make my Top 20 of 2005 list, in alphabetical order. Oh, in another one of those "Why didn't anyone tell me" moments, I found out has a nice little blog that points to free downloads and sometimes posts its own exclusive mp3s.

    The only thing is that you either have to get a subscription or get a "Day Pass" by watching a commercial. The latter option sounds great until you're forced to watch the trailer for In Her Shoes (a title that's practically asking for a porn parody). The subscription fee doesn't sound that bad, especially considering the wealth of great articles at Salon.

    Anyway, let's go to songs 6 through 10.
    • Gorillaz "Feel Good Inc"

      Boring pick, I know. Yes, De La's underused, but at least it's De La. Better to be underemployed than not employed at all. Anyway, it's rocking good times, makes you want to not stop and get it get it.

    • The Go Team! "Huddle Formation" (mp3)

      The initial urge is to call The Go Team! a love-them-or-hate-them group but I actually fall somewhere in between. Their interpretation of the American high school pep rally works more often than not, though I can't say I really love them. This song, I can dig, as it perks me up like a double espresso shot in my ears, going from 0 to 60 to 120 in 3 seconds.

    • Maxïmo Park "Graffiti" (mp3)

      I didn't really appreciate "Graffiti" until I was going through my breakup. It's a lovely song whose essence is captured in the refrain "I'll do graffiti if you sing to me in French / What are we doing here if romance isn't dead?". That's songwriting.

    • Nada Surf "Do It Again" (mp3)/"Blankest Year" (mp3)

      If you're like me, you'd probably forgotten about Nada Surf until that tragic episode of The OC when Anna left Newport, and you were wondering "Who's doing that cover of OMD's 'If You Leave'?". And before that, you probably knew them from the 1996 novelty hit "Popular".

      But damn, the album that came out last month is pretty fucking good. "Do It Again" is one of those "Repeat/1 Song" tracks. What surprises me the most is that they are based in NYC, because they have that California sound down pat. If Mamas and Papas got together with Shuggie Ottis and played indie-style rock, I imagine they'd sound like Nada Surf.

      "Blankest Year", while not as infectious as "Do It Again", also gets heavy rotation on the ol' iPod. While I normally prefer wanton cursing, I prefer the cleaner version of the refrain. There's nothing wrong with "Oh, fuck it" in the chorus. It's just that "Oh, to hell with it" makes this song go to eleven.

    • Sigur Rós "Hoppípolla" (mp3)

      When their critically acclaimed () came out way back when, I didn't get Sigur Rós. They were different. They sang in a funny language that is apparently not Icelandic. And they did nothing for me. Fast forward to 2005, I still don't get them but that's not really the point. Their sound is more accessible (or I'm a little more open minded) and while they will never make head-bobbing rock, "Hoppípolla" is a song that builds to a climax and keeps you there for about 2 minutes.

    Part 3 to follow.

    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    Top 15 out of 20 Songs of 2005 (Part 1)

    Since we are now in October and finished with three-fourths of the year, I figured this might be a good time to start thinking about what songs will end up in my year-end Best Of list. So I decided to pick out 15 of my favorite songs released from January through September this year, which would compose 75% of my Top 20 of 2005.

    Of course, there could be more or less than 5 list-worthy songs between now and 12/31, but we'll worry about that then.

    So here are the 75% of my favorite 20 singles of 2005 in alphabetical order (well, we're going to do this 25% at a time, so bear with me).
    • Annie "Heartbeat"

      Such is the western alphabet that a guilty pleasure song ends up leading off a list of what should be an exercise in snobbery. But this is pure, sugary pop with no artificial sweeteners. See, Scandinavians have this American pop music thing down to an artform. Exactly what pop music should be sweet, guilt-free (or guilt-ridden) and absent of spice or bitterness.

    • Bloc Party "Helicopter"/"Blue Light (Engineers 'Anti-Gravity' Mix)" (mp3)

      It feels so long ago that Silent Alarm came out but it's only been since March. They had been NME's darlings for a while and albums with bigger hype have come out since. Plus, it was always going to be difficult to match the massive expectation that preceded them.

      Seven months later it's as enjoyable now as back then, from start to finish, "Helicopter" being the highlight. And the reinterpretation of "Blue Light" off the remix album served as a timely reminder of the original, as well as something to hold us over until the release of their sophomore album.

    • Kelly Clarkson "Since U Been Gone"/"Behind These Hazel Eyes"

      While Liz Phair struggles to reinvent herself as a radio-friendly pop rocker, Kelly Clarkson hasn't had trouble going the opposite direction. These songs are about as well crafted as anything else you hear on the radio, and I mean that in a good way and a bad way. In a bad way, because they're a little too easy to get into, like Max Martin is reading our minds and manufactures music based on our deepest and darkest desires, like Mel Gibson in What Women Want.

      But at the end of the day, who cares if it's "art" or not? What matters is that these songs get me jumping on my bed or singing into my hairbrush. Started out as friends/It was cool but it was all pretend/Yeah yeah... Who can resist that?

    • Common "Be" (mp3)

      When I heard that Kanye was taking over production duties for all of Common's new album, I must say I was a little concerned. Is it going to be all chipmunk vocal and Ye mugging the mic? How much effort will he put in when he has his own album coming out months later?

      Pleasantly surprised, was my reaction. What came out was a 90s throwback and arguably Common's tightest album since his 1994 release Resurrection. The strongest track is the title cut, backed by Kanye's signature layered sound and the boom-bap beats that defined Chicago hip hop back in the day.

    • Ani DiFranco "Manhole"

      Once I got past my juvenile snickering over a lesbian singer naming a song "Manhole", I wondered how I had missed a release by one of my favorite singer-songwriters, especially one whose work I became intimate with during that phase in college when I was trying to get those girls to play on my team.

      Granted, I haven't really gotten into her more recent work and Andrew Bird has been the bigger name on her Righteous Babe Records, Knuckle Down released in January is grossly underappreicated. "Manhole" isn't quite 1990's Ani, but it's pretty damn close to vintage. Her voice alternates between forceful and tender, on and off beat, and her guitar is at once melodic and percussive.

    Parts 2 and 3 to follow

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    Linkatharsis: Bob Loblaw

  • I figure it's never too early to look ahead, as the 2012 Presidential race is already around the corner (I'm pulling for Obama, but I have a feeling the ladies are going for the latin heartthrob George P. Bush). And you gotta figure the population loss in Louisiana looks like bad news for Democrats on several levels.

    Let's see,
    • As it is, population growth is tilting towards the Red States
    • Louisiana, a key swing state, is losing a huge chunk of urban voters, that is to say, reliable Democrat voters
    • And much of that exodus has gone to Texas, where it won't make a dent in the state's Redness
    • Lousiana will be less of a swing state minus one congressional seat (which I guess is a good thing if the state goes solid red, but still)
    • We were pretty fucked to begin with

    So yeah, Canada is looking pretty good right now. Lest we gaze at our navels too much though, maybe we can reverse the trend. Maybe if, say, the President grossly mishandles the war in Iraq or appoints a bunch of fucktards to key posts like FEMA chief or a high ranking White House official gets caught leaking a CIA agent's identity to the press or some prominent GOP congressman's caught in a scandal or the Republicans blatantly try to give to the rich by repealing the Estate Tax or...

    One ticket to Toronto, please.

  • More Harriet goodness from the Times:
    President Bush sought today to allay the fears of social conservatives about his latest Supreme Court choice, saying that his selection, Harriet E. Miers, would adhere strictly to the letter of the Constitution.
    Now, can anyone tell me what's wrong with the quoted sentence?

    Further down:
    The president's remarks, at a news conference called just a day after he announced his selection of Ms. Miers, seemed timed to head off any groundswell of opposition from conservatives, some of whom have expressed keen disappointment that he did not pick a jurist in the mold of Justices Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas, as they believe Mr. Bush indicated he would during the 2000 campaign.
    So you're telling me that out of everything Bush promised in 2000, implicit or explicit, the wingnuts are disappointed he's not nominating Scalia-clones to the Supreme Court?

    I really don't know what the conservatives are complaining about. Look, if Miers has stuck with Dubs long enough and earned enough brownie points that he's turning to her for arguably the second most important appointment of his Presidency, she's clearly someone who's on the same wavelength politically. She's certainly not going to announce that she likes to perform abortions in her spare time any time soon.

    I don't know, I guess it's true with fringes of any political movement, but them motherfuckers like to complain about anything that doesn't lead to the immediate overturn of Roe v Wade, and they sure build some fancy looking strawmen. It's just that unlike those kids with the bullhorns at Union Square, the nutty types on the right actually have access to the ears of people who matter and can get schools to teach Intelligent Design. That Bush even pays attention to them is scary. But I guess that's the price of depending on the evangelical vote to spread the neocon agenda.

  • Michael Owen says no more to Europe
    "I had a good time in Madrid, both on and off the pitch but I missed the UK weather, I missed the food, the Premiership and being around English people."
    Come again? Missed what? You left where for gray skies and boiled meats?

  • City Rag calls the "Leak" over before it even had a chance to hit the urinal cake. Though we had to know that this trend would be hot for a minute only to cool off all too quickly, leaving only shame and discomfort.

  • The delightfully imperfect NYC subway system dusts off the scrapbook and looks back on all the wacky accidents caused by human errors over the past 20 months.

    Though calling the MTA a bunch of fucktards may be too easy and redundant, I can't help but note that of the 8 incidents listed, 5 happened on the 6th Ave line, the line I take everyday to and from work. Yay me.

  • If you can't meet the already lowered recruitment target with free music downloads and Craigslist postings, you rely on flunkies to protect the country. Yeah. If you couldn't handle 10th grade remedial math, missile defense should be a piece of cake.

    Fred Kaplan does offer this useful piece of advice: "If you do go to war, plan it better." Jeez, why didn't anyone say this back in 2003?

  • Alaska says "Please visit before you die. You know, if you're not too busy. I mean, I totally understand if you want to go to Hawaii first. Or you know, you have to visit your mom. It's okay, no rush, whenever it's convenient for you. Just, like, before you get too old and die."

  • Shocker. McDonald's fails to get any takers for its ambitious, incredibly well thought out Big Macs-for-rhymes program.

  • Analrapist.
  • It's the same old song

    Not too surprisingly, Pitchfork's review of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine compares the version produced by Mike Elizondo (whom hip hop heads might recognize from the bassline on The Firm's "Phone Tap") leaked yesterday to the Jon Brion-produced version released earlier this year.

    I've been listening to the new version on Fiona's Myspace page and I have to say, I like the original version just fine and don't think the commercial release is an improvement over the unreleased album.

    Of course, Fiona claims that quality was never the problem (listen to Fiona talk about it on NPR). Rather, she was worried that the original recordings sounded "more like a Jon Brion album than a Fiona Apple album". That's understandable and sure, we all want our singer-songwriters to keep their stamps on their music

    Still, I don't think her voice and songwriting were lost in Jon Brion's production. Just as a Jon Brion score stands out but never upstages the film (say, I Heart Huckabees or Punch Drunk Love), the whimsical sound served to complement her playfulness on the original Extraordinary Machine. And as I mentioned in my take on Kanye's Late Registration, the Brion-trademarked bells and whistles added life to Kanye's loops and created a soundscape that pushed his rhymes out.

    It's not a bad album ("Oh Sailor", the first single, stands out) but it's not going to make me erase the songs I downloaded back in March.

    Update: Fluxblog disagrees, but what do they know about music?

    Well, I do think that it's one of the year's better albums and what we have is a choice between two decent versions of the same album. That, I'm sure we can all agree, is a good thing.

    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    Judith, you ignorant slut

    "I'm sure I did many things that were not completely perfect in the eyes of either First Amendment absolutists or those who wrote every day saying 'Testify, testify, you're covering up for these people.' The pressures were enormous. I did the only thing I could do. I followed my conscience, and I tried to follow the principles that I laid out at the beginning."

    Please. Shut up. Granted, I don't work in media or law and I only took one media law class in college, but I know pretty damn well that you weren't protecting a "source". The shield law you're going to crusade for wouldn't have kept you out of jail. Are we really supposed to believe that Dick Cheney's Number 2 was somehow under pressure and coerced? Your testimony would not have put a chilling effect on anonymous sources. If anything, a chilling effect on senior White House officials outing CIA agent would be awfully nice. Are we seriously taking lessons in principles from Ahmed Chalabi's ventriloquist dummy?

    Okay, I've calmed down. And people who really should've known better and need to be slapping themselves in shame are those on the NY Times editorial board. They could have gently reminded Miller and the public that by refusing to testify, she was protecting someone who was (possibly, potentially) violating federal law using the media, not a "source". This story was never about the First Amendment or about confidentiality of a source. Rather than demand honesty from Miller, they continue to keep the hack on their payroll and allow themselves to be complicit in her grandstanding.


    Also in this morning's Times, did you catch the graphic on this article and have the same reaction I did? As in, "Good lord, that thing is huge! [Wolf Blitzer] And so BLACK! [/Wolf Blitzer]"? If only that were the most disturbing part of the article. And yes, I am in fact 14 years old.

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    There won't be pumpkins in Africa this Halloween time

    From the good folks at Vice, Do They Know It's Halloween? featuring among others, Beck, The Arcade Fore, Wolf Parade, David Cross and your favorite preteen duo Smoosh (lyrics and credits).

    Proceeds go to UNICEF and the single goes on sale 0ct 11, but you can stream the track at the website.

    It's, like, "We Are The World" meets "Thriller". Good cheesy fun.

    Linkatharsis: Hate hate hate

    What I hate right now:
      My hair

      I hate to be vain, but since I'm not blessed with Brad Pitt's jaw or Tom Cruise's knowledge of psychiatry, I need to bring my A-game every time if I want to impress the ladies. Right now, my hair is at that awkward stage between shaved and normal. It's not quite a minifro and not quite a mullet. Either would be preferable.

    What I don't hate right now:
      Friendster's Stalker Tracker

      Yes, it's super creepy and there's so much potential for misunderstanding, tragic or otherwise. But it was nice to be able to look at who had sneaked a peak at my profile and their connection to me.

      Was I not concerned that I was showing up in other people's Viewed By pages? No, not a bit. Mind you, it's not because I don't sit at night furious typing in names of ex's and secret crushes. It's because I discovered the feature two days before it went live. I was changing my settings so only my friends and their friends could contact me, as I was getting swamped with spam. Which was when I saw the "Anonymous Browsing" option. Confused, I did some searching around and discovered that the "Viewed By" thing would show up sometime in the future. Figured I should be safe than sorry, I turned Anonymous Browsing on. Last Friday, the sky fell.

  • I never thought that the DeLay scandal was much to get worked up about because as John Dickerson explains, it's going to be more of the same; the Dems like having a villain to point to on the other side of the aisle while DeLay still holds so much sway within the GOP, Majority Leader or not.

    There ain't no Mr. Smith going to Washington to bring the corrupt motherfuckers down, that's for sure. This country is still, and will always be run by the kingmakers.

  • Which gets us to Douglas Rushkoff's latest post:
    2) Oy. I don't know when I've ever experienced as much doubt about America's immediate future as I do now.

    Couldn't agree more. And this is where I hoped Rushkoff would follow up with something optimistic like how history is cyclical or that the American people would simply not allow tyranny through ignorance.
    Let's not call it a Bush thing, please, because this will be going on after he's gone. We've moved into a different phase of American history, folks, and we may just be on the wrong side of the border this time.

    I was afraid he'd say that. I've talked about this recently, but I'm dismayed by the priority placed on winning over the collective good, and outshouting the opposition over finding a middle ground.

    The idea that political discourse has to fall into an X vs Y is absurd, yet it is the most marketable way for the 24-hour cable news nets to sell their personalities. We miss the forest for the bear shit, basically, spending so much time debating the merits of the crap spewed by Bennett, Coulter and Moore - there, I said it, Michael Moore.

    It's not that he doesn't have good ideas or ask good questions, and it's absurd to think Coulter is somehow an equivalent of Moore. It's that he frames his arguments in such a way that he ends up alienating anyone who isn't already in the choir, and the distaste for his personality ends up extending to his rhetoric and ideology as well. Why does he do that? Because ultimately, he's looking out for #1, just like O'Reilly, Coulter, Pat Robertson, whoever. And the media is happy to let him be the Most Visible Liberal because outsized personalities are an easier sell than thoughtful, measured ones.

    And it's easy to blame the media (and they are responsible to a large extent). But readers and viewers allow themselves to be fooled because they believe these multinational media conglomerates somehow answer to the consumers, while disapproving when journalists actually try to do the fourth estate thing, just as social conservatives are under the illusion that neocons aren't simply using their votes as part of a faustian bargain.

    I'd like to think there's going to be a sea change in the political discourse in the near future, but honestly, I don't know where it's going to come from. Certainly not the blogosphere.

  • So Army recruiters are posting on Craigslist and the National Guard is giving 3 iTunes tracks to anyone who gives up a phone number to a recruiter (that's 2 more than Gap gave you for trying on their jeans!).

    That should take care of the recruiting shortfall.

  • Ugh. GEICO Gecko, along with Juan Valdez, voted favorite ad icons. From the press release:
    "The Gecko," said Ted Ward, vice president of GEICO marketing, "is truly the only 21st century advertising icon to have reached such enormous popularity with the public so quickly. It's an honor that he was recognized so early in his career."

    Kinda sad, isn't it? Here's an "ad icon" that has absolutely jackpoopoo to do with the brand except that "Gecko" sounds vaguely like "Geico" if you try hard enough. The stupid lizard is the ultimate non-sequitur in a ad campaign with nothing but non-sequiturs for a company whose service is so poorly rated that its price is the only selling point...

    Wait, maybe that is the genius. What better symbol for a company that can't adequately provide is core service than an empty ad icon, targeted to no one in particular, that offers no insight to or connection with the brand? I can't think of a better match.

    Baby Bob, on the other hand... who happens to be played by a baby girl...

  • MTA says thanks, but no thanks to subway bomb sniffing dogs.
    "We do not turn down federal grants without a very good reason," Mr. Kelly said. "It was felt, in this instance, that it was not advantageous for us at this point."

    Right. Besides the fact that the above quote contains no fewer than five examples of things that I hate about PR-speak, how are free bomb sniffing dogs not advantageous to a transit system that is arguably the most likely to be attacked by terrorists?

    Are they afraid that dog urine would messy up the sparkling clean platforms? I don't know, that's about the most logical explanation I could come up with. Though admittedly, I'm working on about 30 minutes of decent REM sleep since I kept waking up last night.

  • Creepy, but some people like this kind of stuff, I guess: celebrities as anime characters (via Best Week Ever Blog). I gotta say, the Anime Uma Thurman looks just like the real thing, which is to say, cartoonish.

  • Kwame Brown might be insane in the membrane. Thank goodness Cuddly Kobe's going to be mentoring him.

  • Straight Bangin' Joey hits the nail on the Sports Guy's decline:
    I'd just reiterate that while the Sports Guy is likely the archetype for many everyday-fan sites that discuss sports and culture at length and on the regular (I'd add that those two things are large components in what most of we layfolk call 'life,' so it's not too hard to write about those things), he has become older, self-absorbed, and so alarmingly out of touch that it seems like he has, in effect, gone JoePa on us.

  • Pumpkin ale, I approve of. Assinchair, got it.
  • Hot trend alert from NY Times: Girls

    I know, it's too easy to make fun of Sunday Styles section and its uncanny ability to stay behind the curve, but I had the following imaginary conversation with the Gray Lady this weekend.

    NY Times: You know what's hot? Images of girls sticking their tongues out. It's everywhere! And by everywhere, I mean I saw it on a Yahoo ad.

    Me: Please. You could've talked about this "trend" back when Jenna Bush stuck her tongue out to the press. So last summer.

    NY Times: Ha! Don't you see the image we're using for the article? A promotional poster for a movie that came out in 2003. I have you beat by a year!

    Me: Oh snap.

    Also, Critical Mass is enigmatic and controversial.

    5 initial reactions on Harriet the Nominee

    1. Ugh. Another lawyer for hire with their hazy past and their plausible deniability.
    2. Miers is no John Roberts, who was always Rehnquist's replacement.
    3. Is this Bush being loyal to a member of his circle or is the swing vote going to Scalia/Thomas bloc?
    4. Like with Roberts, I don't care about her partisan leanings or views on Roe v Wade specifically. I do care about how she applies precedence and her views on rights not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, namely privacy.
    5. I'm sure Bush wants a quick confirmation but he's also catching heat for nominating a moderate (?) like Roberts. He has to throw a bone to the social conservatives right? Who knows what he's going for here?

    Saturday, October 01, 2005

    Saturday night

    If you hate stream of consciousness posts, you might want to skip ahead. Don't worry, I don't do this often. And I'm not depressed. Just in a melancholy mood.

    I'm home tonight because my liver needs a break. I can't go out, down a gallon of vodka tonics and do the same the next night. I'm not 15 any more. Plus, I drank a few beers the two previous nights and I'm a little afraid of making a habit out of it.

    The post-drinking lethargy gives me a lot of time to think. I do that too much, the thinking I mean. I probably don't drink often enough for someone at my life stage. It doesn't help that I realize I'd left my computer at home only after I am at the coffee shop and have my cup (medium, not grande), so I can't surf or instant message as I'd intended. I try reading but that doesn't work. With nothing else to do, I watch out the window, what with the beautiful weather bringing everyone outside.

    On the sidewalk, two overexcited dogs play, causing golden brown fur to fly up. A puppy is tied to the window railing of the restaurant across the street while the owners eat inside and occasionally hand scraps. A photographer sits a few feet away, patiently waiting for the puppy to assume a pose. This scene, the photographer and the puppy, would make a great photograph given the lighting, angle and framing, except my camera's in the shop.

    I notice more snap-worthy moments now that I can't photograph them. To know that I missed an opportunity to capture a scene that will never repeat itself is, in a small way, heartbreaking. I still remember certain events that I wish I had photographed from more than a year ago. I am a pack rat of memories. Photography has the power to give permanence to the fleeting and beauty to the mundane - that ain't nothing to scoff at.

    Then I remember that I have now been single for more than two months. I'm sure everyone goes through this, but I miss being with a girlfriend as much as I do the girlfriend herself. It's the little things that I didn't necessarily take for granted, but didn't think would matter so much either. Sitting on her couch reading The Sunday New York Times. Bringing back coffee and breakfast buns for two. Sitting in the same coffee shop I'm in now, but having her distract me from my book with smiles, scribbles and sweet nothings. These things leave the gaping holes in my psyche and weekend afternoons. I'm not a big events guy, more a little episodes guy. In the whole scheme of things, the trivial matters as much as, if not more than the epic. The latter sets the course while the former does the paddling.

    All the navel gazing gets to be too much and I go out for a bike ride. It's the closest thing to therapy without an hourly fee or the need for a partner. I ride on Manhattan Bridge to DUMBO (seeing more photo-worthy material on the way), silently apologizing to my future children for the damage done by the cobblestone streets and finding the colors to be completely different from the last time I rode through the neighborhood.

    I go back over the bridge, ride down along the East River, around the lower tip of Manhattan and onto the more crowded but better maintained West Side bike path. After I'm sufficiently tired, I get off the path and take a more direct route back to my apartment. If you live on Manhattan, you need a bicycle. Seriously. I can't think of a better way to explore the different neighborhoods. At the very least, you'll get stronger carrying your bike up and down a walk-up.

    And I've come to a conclusion. To maintain a semblance of sanity, I need (besides the bloody obvious necessities of life) my camera, my bicycle and a girlfriend (or a potential one). There was a point in my life when I had none of the above - I'm not sure how I survived, really. Well, I had more friends that I hung out with back then, but the majority either moved out of the city or lost contact.

    Tomorrow's a new day, Ralph Waldo Emerson claims. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end, a crappy band from Minnesota once sang. That would make me happy. Let's hope they're right.