Friday, July 01, 2005 at 14:13:56 (EDT)

There's something down there

Go my little minions. Eat those mulberries.

So it's mulberry season again, and I've already had it with this crap. I bought a new tent because the old one (which I bought 3 years ago at Pathmark) was getting ratty, but the new tent was a piece of garbage (thank you, Target), turned out to be much smaller than advertised (they measured the area between the feet, not the canopy, duh), and after a recent rainstorm it actually collapsed under the weight of the water. There's 20 bucks I'll never see again. So I put the old tent back up, and though it looks gross and has a bunch of holes worn in it, it sure is a damn sight better than the flimsy would-be replacement.

Pathmark 1, Target 0.

So anyway, the mulberries. I noticed the other day that the squirrels were eating them! Problem solved, or so I thought. Turns out the squirrels can't keep up with the supply, and they much prefer the sunflower seeds in the birdfeeder and continue their attempts to dismantle it. I looked up some recipes for white mulberries but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble it would take to make these larval berries palatable. Thus particular breed was actually developed as a food source for silkworms. But I got no silkworms.

One of these days we'll have another backyard BBQ; we probably should be doing one this weekend. But the band is practicing/recording, Buzz keeps running off to Long Island to hang out with big Russian guys who are good with piano wire (uh, Don Buzz?), and of course the constant pummeling with mulberries by an ungrateful neighbor's tree makes thing less than pleasant out back. When do the Summer Doldrums set in? We'll have a party then.

Despite another butchering in its final form, the NY Press printed a piece I wrote about the band Bent Outta Shape. We checked out their show at the Cake Shop last night. They totally ripped it up. I can't tell how good it is to see a band that plays basic old-school punk but are still somehow original about it. Way better than seeing yet another tired garage-rock band. And as for Cake Shop, it's a really good space! There seems to be a trend of late; new clubs keep opening up with basement space for bands. Call it the Lit Lounge Model. It's a good idea, since the upper-buffer space means fewer noise complaints. Also there appears to be a sense of "what happens in the basement, stays in the basement," which is pretty much the unwritten slogan at Happy Ending. But for the rest of us, these basement spaces can make you feel like you're still living in a New York that has the potential to be really crazy and interesting. Remember crazy and interesting?

Let's see, after Lit, other newish clubs that follow this form include The Delancey, Sputnik, Cake Shop, Scenic, Apocalypse Lounge. There are probably others. The former Acme Underground, now Ace of Clubs, should also be mentioned since it's in a basement as well. The only downside of all these basements (as a member of a band) is it's a pain to lug music equipment up and down all the stairs. Then again, Ace of Clubs provides a good backline of gear, so hey, even better.

Enjoy the long weekend! I'm going to do everything in my power to avoid the fireworks. Why do I dislike them? Maybe it's because I hate America so much. That what Karl Rove keeps telling me, anyway.<

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 15:22:03 (EDT)

Africa Must Be Free By 1983
Ever notice how when newer bands get described these days, they always say something like, "They defy genre labels," or "A melding of diverse influences that produce a wholly original blah blah blah ..." And hey, for the sake of argument, let's say it's all true. There are now so many bands that get described in this way, doesn't that mean they all belong to a new, as-yet-unnamed genre? If we look to past naming conventions for a correlative, only one really springs to mind. When musicians from all over the world started playing around with the notion that one could incorporate rhythmic structures, melodic modalities, instruments, and other concepts from different cultures, they eventually came up with a name and so was born: World Music. So I think if all these 'modern' bands are gonna keep reminding me how wide and varied are their influences, with how little effort they incorporate and synthesize their influences into a beast that has never before existed, I'm just gonna start calling it World Music, too.

Which bands out there have NO influences? I know they must exist; a band started by people who never listened to music, who only formed a band because, I dunno, the gear was lying around and they were bored. Maybe the band from Half Cocked are still around?

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Friday, June 24, 2005 at 11:31:48 (EDT)

Survival of the fattest
So this guy who's redesigning some pages for my company's website calls me up, all a-twitter because he can't get a page to edit properly. Our website is run off this component-based web application, and he says he keeps trying to remove a component but it keeps reappearing every time he tries to get rid of it. I had him walk me through his steps:

"Okay, I'm in the page, and I'm selecting the component ... now I'm clicking on the 'Remove Component' button ... now I'm clicking on 'Cancel' ..."

And I'm all like, "What? Why would you hit 'Cancel'?"

"Because if I can't click on 'Done' because I'm not done editing the page."

"Well, if you keep clicking on 'Cancel' every time you tell the program to remove the component, it's just gonna keep showing up ... see?"


"Oh, look at that, it's working now."

Folks this is the level of discourse in the offices of one of the biggest companies in the known universe. I used to fear I'd be found out as a fraud because I have no formal web design training, but these days I'm more scared of people finding out that I know how to do anything at all, cuz then they come a-calling.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005 at 15:39:00 (EDT)

You will be reincarnated as an imperial attack spaceturtle
So the NY Press has reformatted its Art listings, and finally my little write-ups are getting printed again. I know how you've all been suffering since they weren't getting in the paper for the past couple of weeks. The new format is nice, allowing for slightly longer blurbs. And this time around, they didn't totally carve up my writing and add a bunch of stuff that makes no sense. Yes, I know I'm not a professional music critic, and perhaps I don't know the fine art of composing sentences like Robert Christgau (who wrote in his piece on Sleater-Kinney: "Nevertheless, the metal affinities are basically spiritual." Huh?). But I'm glad they gave me the benefit of the doubt this time out, especially since I wrote about bands I really like, bands who could certainly stand to get a little more attention.

Coincidentally, they're bands who are friends with each other as well, Stay Fucked and Dynasty Electric Duo. I actually came in contact with these groups through the good ol' Alibi Bar, where one night I met, among others, Stay Fucked's drummer Hank. From this meeting I later found myself at Seth Misterka's Newsonic HQ loft. He put on a few shows of some historical significance (Oneida, Big Bear, Ex-Models, probably one of the last Mink Lungs shows ever). When I met them, Stay Fucked was on hiatus/broken-up, and Misterka was probably just getting Dynasty going. Now it's been a couple of years and both bands are doing well. Now if I could only get my own band up to their speed ...

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Monday, June 20, 2005 at 15:07:34 (EDT)

It's a Saturday Night Special

It can be crowded with weirdos, it can get deafening (by either bands or DJs), the stairs are still treacherous despite the addition of huge floodlights. But Lit Lounge is still one of the few venues around town that routinely deliver the goods. I haven't loved every single band I've ever seen there, but considering the cover price is rarely more than $5, I've never felt ripped off. If there is a downside, it's the fact that bands are often hustled through their sets to make way for the late night DJ crowd, but there is perhaps something to be said for leaving the audience wanting more. This past Friday we saw The Forms, who seem to be rocking harder lately than in the past. Riddle of Steel was also fantastic, although none of my pictures of them came out.

I'm often torn about whether or not to bring my camera when I go out. On the one hand, there's lots of stuff worthy of preserving in photos, at least when I don't have my camera handy. But when I have it at the ready I feel like I spend a lot of time waiting around for a good picture to happen. Much of the time I'd rather just enjoy the experience and leave it to my brain to remember the event. On Saturday I was feeling kind of sick and unable to deal with going to Manhattan, so we ended up at the Glasshouse Gallery in Williamsburg. Although Todd P brought this space to my attention, it seems to be taking on a life of its own. There we saw a band called Celebration, who I believe hail from Baltimore. I kind of got the impression that the crowd consisted of friends of theirs from Maryland, and possibly a contingent from the GLBT scene who were there for an earlier band. To me, this is the only explanation for what transpired: everybody was dancing. As fun as this band was, I can't see the usual audience (even in Brooklyn) cutting loose like this group did. Sure, when bands get bigger, New Yorkers finally feel it's socially acceptable to dance, but at small shows like this, there's usually a palpable sense of "Okay, prove you're worth my time." Such was not the case Saturday, and while I'm glad I didn't get caught up in trying to get a good picture of the shows, I now wish there was some further evidence of it.

Oops, forgot the link to more pix of The Forms on Flickr.

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Week of June 19 - July 2, 2005


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