Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 12:43:37 (EST)

Mucho work minus play
Hey folks! I just got a new job! Okay, it was really no surprise, but man, did they ever drag this out! I guess it's a law that forces companies to hold open interviews for positions even if there's a strong internal candidate. Then again, I wasn't officially an internal candidate, seeing as how I have always worked as a 'contractor' (permatemp) through a 3rd party. Anyway, they accepted something like 50 resumes, and a few people reportedly made it to the final level of interviewing before their selection was made. But was there ever really any contention? Nah.

The position I'm taking encompasses a lot of the wildly exciting web management I've been doing for the past several years. But they promised me there'd be more graphic design stuff going on, including stuff requiring print production expertise. Oh joy! My first design-related job was at an offset-press shop. It would be cool if this new job allows me to actually do something creative, I might not dread going to work every day.

And yes, I'm going back into the office. I have to get some more 'business casual' clothes and an unlimited Metrocard (but for how long?). They told me they'd find a cubicle for me, but that it might not be right near the rest of the department, due to lack of space. Sounds great to me, put me as far away from the people who will want to bug me the most.

And the best part? I don't start for a month. I have to tie up loose ends for the next several weeks with my old department. I had asked for 2 weeks but they say it will be easier if I start in March. So I have one more month left to work from home. So I'm gonna go out as much as possible, and generally squander the month of February in lieu of an actual vacation. Which, by the way, I will finally get to take in the future. In 5.5 years, I took maybe 2 weeks off total. Telecommuting means never having to say you're off-duty.

There's a bunch of shows going on in the next month, I plan to attend as many as possible. Who knows, maybe I'll even do something that doesn't involve seeing a band or going to a bar. Now all I've gotta do is get Motico a show this month!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 12:29:03 (EST)

My new year's resolution is always the same

I had better get this job. Not just because I had to put on my one and only suit (now in its 10th year) on Monday and traipse into the offices to have yet another interview. But because when I was on an unrelated conference call yesterday, everybody in the meeting seemed to know I was leaving my current position. I'm not even sure who a lot of the people on the call were, but they all seemed to have been briefed on the fact that the job I do now will not last much longer. Now, on the one hand, I could look at this as a sign that I'm definitely getting the other job, that it's such a foregone conclusion that everybody might as well start planning to live without me in my previous context.

But of course, the way my brain works I choose to see it in a more sinister light: If I'm not getting the job, the rest of the company is preparing to not miss a beat when I'm out on my ass. This possibility, however unlikely, keeps me feeling displaced and feeling like I should hedge my bets. So now I'm trying to entertain myself with what I will do if I don't get the job.

  • Force my band to quit their respective jobs and take our act on the road until one of us dies of drug-related sleep apnea
  • Train these lazy-ass cats to do tricks à la the Moscow Cats Theatre and set up a theater on the site of former bakery Sprinkles on Myrtle Ave
  • Finish and produce my stirring one-man show entitled, "My Life is Every Bit as Interesting as Somebody Who Actually Accomplished Something"
  • Set up an illegal cigarette importing business and become to tobacco what Tony Montana was to cocaine (easier than you might think!)
  • Enlist some people in a mortgage brokerage firm and a fake appraiser and start my own real estate scam
  • Burn some bridges

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Friday, January 20, 2006 at 14:26:43 (EST)

Hide thee deadly black tarantula
Whoa. I love that Alan Arkin (Catch-22, Glengarry Glenn Ross, Little Murders, etc), but who knew he co-wrote "The Banana Boat Song" when he was with the music group The Tarriers? That's the song commonly known as "Day-O" and was made famous by Harry "Calypso King" Belafonte. Alan Arkin kicks so much ass!

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Friday, January 20, 2006 at 12:32:33 (EST)

The economy at the bottom of the chain

Really interesting (if long) article in The Brooklyn Rail about the history of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill.

To put the article in a contemporary context, here's the New Yorker article about the brownstoner.com anniversary party.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 14:14:14 (EST)

Everyone chooses sides

The Wrens

Just when you thought the cachet for hurricane benefits had run out, here comes the Act Local benefit. This was this all-day affair at the Knitting Factory this past Sunday, with bands playing from 2pm to 2am. I didn't make it there until a little after 4, but not many other people made it out so early either. I had intended to see The Choke, who were scheduled to go on at 4. But when we walked in at 4:15 they were just finishing up. Turns out the bands not playing the main space were all running a half-hour to a 45 minutes ahead of schedule. I still can't figure that one out. Nobody who sees live music in this town expects something to go on before it's scheduled. Sure, we won't bat an eye when a show starts several hours later than posted, but shows starting early? Hey, Motico tried that once, and we all know how that ended up.

Also it was kind of annoying that the bands in the Tap Room and Old Office seemed to be playing super short sets. Each band officially had one hour to perform, yet sets were ending seemingly as soon as they had begun, which forced us to hotfoot it over to the next room to see if we could catch other bands to fill the gap. So we caught little moments of most of the bands. In many cases, that was about as much as I could stand of some artists.

I really wanted to see Parts & Labor but was further distressed to find they had cancelled their set (two of the three guys were there, drummer Christopher was absent so maybe that's why). But Dan, the redhead guy form the band, did a short solo set that was very cool nonetheless. The other find of the day was Antonius Block, who recently added Andrea, formerly of Deathpool, on drums. There are so many reasons this band should NOT work, yet they somehow skirt the pitfalls and really come up with something interesting. It's just drums, and guitar and a singer droning in broken English (the less said about the droog costume, the better). It's a little reminiscent of the formless feel of Deathpool, but groovier, kind of like early Jon Spencer if he went to art school. The guitarist pulled a Thurston Moore, shoving a drumstick under the strings, then dragging it across the fretboard rhythmically, if not melodically. Amazingly enough he broke no strings, and even more amazingly it sounded really good. I gotta learn how to come up with stuff like that to distract form the fact that my playing is rather limited.

Other impressions:

Matt and Ira from Nada Surf: I know NS has been around forever, but I know nothing about them. This was a simple acoustic set with minimal drums. Just nice little pop songs, well designed and the guitar sounded incredible (more a comment on the guitar itself than the playing of it).

Violator: This all-female Depeche Mode cover band is like a novelty song that forgot why it was novel in the first place. The band can really play; why not do original material instead? They sure don't look like they're having any fun playing nothing but covers. In fact, they look bored. Or maybe they think they're being 'sexy' or something, whatever it is, it's not working. I do admit I am impressed by their musicianship, they do a goo job of playing the synthy songs with regular rock instruments. And the lead singer's voice is low enough to approximate David Gahan. But even Martin Gore has more fun onstage than these folks.

Langhorne Slim: The NY Press is gonna regret never running my show preview for Langhorne last year. When he gets huge in a few months, they'll want to say they were all on top of it when. The guy has turned into not only a fantastic showman, he's a really perceptive songwriter. If he ever gets tired of that Elderly-Delta-Bluesman thing, I bet he could even give Elliot Smith a run for his money.

Fresh Kills: The band was getting over the flu (lead singer Zack reportedly nearly threw up after the first song), so I can cut them some slack if the show was not their most energetic. They turned out the songs nicely, though the sound guy didn't have Jonny's guitar nearly loud enough. That's a first, but it meant we could finally hear Tim's guitar clearly. He recently lost a beige Fender Jaguar with gold hardware. If anyone sees one on craigslist or at a local pawn shop, lemme know.

Hopewell: This band was possibly cloned at record executive lab, but I gotta admit they had some rousing numbers. Somewhere between Cheap Trick and The Wonder Stuff. But god help them when they start playing the power ballads. Yecccchh!

Breakup Breakdown: If they spent as much time on their music as they do changing their band name, they might be onto something. The music's fine, actually, just not my cuppa tea. Kinda retro-garage, but also with that early-80's thing everybody suddenly thinks is cool again. Maybe they're trying to be too all-encompassing or something. I think they recently got signed, so maybe they'll only play really big clubs from now on. Meanwhile, I'll be at Lit or something.

Soft Explosions: This band looked like total cooler-than-thou hipsters. Strike one. They were all wearing funny hats. Strike two. But then they started playing and you know what? They weren't half bad. Nothing new I guess, firmly in the world of indie rock. Good guitarist, it's been a long time since I've heard a wah wah pedal used without sounding cheesy and unnecessary.

The Wrens: My face is totally red. I had heard about these guys a couple of years ago, listened to some samples and written them off as twee hipsters. My impression of them were as well-heeled Williamsburgers, making boring music for boring people. And okay, some of their music doesn't move me. But their show made me forget all about the $15+ paid for the ticket, and the fact that they didn't go on until 1am, well into my 9th hour at KF. First of all, they've been together since 1989. For most of that time, they've lived together in a house in Seacaucus. These guys aren't spring chickens. And they are so over the bullshit. For some reason they didn't have their drummer with them, but that actually made things even better. In fact, I'm starting to think music like theirs shouldn't have much in the way of percussion, as there's something about the songwriting that's almost orchestral. Two guitars and a piano, with a bunch of effect pedals as well, that's all. But they're so comfortable with their music, and certainly not out to impress anybody with their good looks or fashion sense. It's sad, but considering the state of music today, it's a real plus not to be faced with glaring amount of attitude from a band. Why can't more bands be like this, just sort of humble, actually apologizing several times because they flubbed a note here and there. Not that anybody noticed; everybody's mouth was hanging open. I still dunno if I'd listen to their recorded stuff, so much that was good about the show had to do with the fact that it was live. Some stuff just doesn't translate.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 17:47:58 (EST)

Rock 'n Roll High School Forever

I just want it to go on the record that I always believed, in my heart, that JT Leroy was, in actuality, former child star Corey Feldman.

LeRoy Feldman

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 12:37:44 (EST)

Don't tell me that my ship is coming in

I've had a cold all week, nothing major, but it won't go away. I gotta healthen up by Friday, as I have a second interview in which I have to go into the office. This means I will have to cut my floor-length hair to a business-appropriate style. This will be difficult since my fingernails have gone uncut for so long they extend and curl from my hands like the horns of the mountain goat. Worse is the state of my wardrobe. Having only worn this threadbare robe for the past years, I am unsure what the current trends are in office attire. Are people still wearing belts? Are trousers considered immodest for men, and if so, what colors/patterns are hot for harem pants these days?

In other news, Howard Stern has made his shift to satellite radio, leaving his old station with the ineffectual David Lee Roth to replace him. The new Stern show has been amusing, mostly because they convinced George "Mr Sulu" Takei to sit in an announcer and color commentator for the first week (his stay may be extended). Talk about an untapped talent! He's still a little too gullible: he had a very serious discussion with Arnold Schwarzenegger about the governor's recent veto of a gay marriage bill, never realizing that the guy he was talking to was just a celebrity impersonator. You'd think he would have realized something was up when the California governor kept saying stuff like "All the Mexicans in California are illegals." He's a good sport though, and to their credit the rest of the Howard Stern cast seem to feel bad when they pull something over on Takei. It'll be interesting to see where the show goes. So far, they've done a good job at keeping the obscenity to a minimum; in fact, they keep forgetting they can't swear on air. There's apparently two full channels of Stern-related stuff available on Sirius, but who knows if it's any good (does Wendy the Retard really need her own show?). They say they will soon offer an internet stream of the live show, which would be a good move. If people can purchase the show à la carte, more people will probably listen.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006 at 13:06:12 (EST)

It's dark as a dungeon

I was totally surprised when I checked the news last night to see that the West Virginia miners had nearly all been saved. The prognosis had been so grim, what with the explosion and the lethally high levels of carbon monoxide in the air. I had feared the worst and here 12 of the miners had survived through their own ingenuity. There were no sides to take, nothing political to read into it. It was an all-around feel-good story.

Then I woke up today to the news that the stories were false; 12 of the 13 miners are dead, the 13th unconscious and in critical condition. They're not sure (or nobody's owning up to it) how the news got so mangled in the telling, but they think that after the first miner was found dead near the explosion site, somehow somebody made the dubious leap that the others must have fled to safety in some other part of the shaft. There seems to be something in human nature that needs a happy ending, to believe that people will triumph over adversity. Despite our outward cynicism, we're always ready to buy it that we were dead wrong about anything that seems to have such a foregone conclusion. Except, of course, if we're talking about celebrities. In that case, we just hope it gets worse. I wonder why that is. Meanwhile, as for the miners' tragedy, we can safely go back to turning this into another politically-charged, Left vs. Right debate about how many safety violations the mining company was carrying at the time, or how long it took President Doofus to say anything about it. The story doesn't have a happy ending, but I suppose this doesn't mean we won't still keep hoping for the best in the future.

This doubly disappointing story only further makes the rest of what I wanted post about seem insipid. But I shouldn't let the tragedy spoil the fun of the past few weeks. There were many parties, for Festivus, Christmas, New Year's Eve. There was a cat circus. And there was Cleveland, which however boring was at least restorative. Here's hoping we won't get so cynical as to completely obliterate our ability to imagine we can do better.

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