Monday, July 30, 2007

'Cross the Breeze

To see Sonic Youth perform Daydream Nation at McCarren Pool is a concert I'd been looking forward to for a long time. Or, to be more specific, I guess you could say I'd been waiting for it my entire life. One of the most prolific, long-lasting rock bands of its kind, Sonic Youth should be regarded as a national treasure. The set list came as no surprise, since they were playing directly from their 1988 groundbreaking album, but it still brought on a slightly euphoric feeling when hearing the first few riffs of "Teen Age Riot."

I guess enough pent up anticipation will do that to you. After finishing the album, they came back for an encore with a bunch of songs from Rather Ripped, "bringing it back to the 21st Century," as Thurston Moore put it, allowing Kim Gordon to focus only on the vocals and swinging dance moves. There really is nothing like seeing a couple of 50-somethings get guitarded on stage while you stand below in an emptied out, Olympic size pool with hundreds of other dedicated listeners.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Oblivion with Bells

Even though it's a dimly lit camera phone pic, I decided that is my favorite view of the city. Taken from the 22nd floor of an office building in Tribeca, during an art opening for photographers who would shun my amateur use of a picture-taking device, the above photo shows Manhattan just after sunset, where Chinatown leaves way for an unobstructed view of Midtown.

Since it's the most desired, and therefore expensive, neighborhood in the entire city, I am obviously not the only one who thinks Tribeca has the best views of the town. The art opening itself was decent enough, even though I felt like the shortest person in the room, with everybody else looking like something really good off a '93 Calvin Klein runway.

A lot of the art was just silly (images of Mickey and Minnie Mouse humping) or irrelevant (pics that looked like they were ripped from a Victoria's Secret catalogue), but we were there for Adam's cousin, who had the best collection in the entire show. Based in LA, Chris places models in hyper realistic backgrounds, allowing the human and landscape beauty to compete freely with one another.

Take, for instance, this pic, of a girl standing in NYC, the action of the city enveloping her while she gives in, wearing sensible shoes, high heels in hand. In contrast, there is this LA woman. Chris said that he chose this model from her Internet submissions because she had a stunning portfolio. But when she showed up for the shoot, she was washed out, faded, pale with acne. So he set the photo in black and white, focusing more on the smog-engulfed hills.

But lesson learned: nothing ever transmits fully over the Internet. Like my camera phone pic, the image of the girl with the hose is much more captivating when seen in full view.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Here Comes the Nice

Summer weekends have a tricky way of rolling into one, drawn out affair. Or maybe this just occurs in New York, where the fluidity of the city only truly takes effect in the summer months. There’s always some kind of outdoor festival, concert, or rooftop gathering, and you have no other choice but to go with it.

In the couple of weekends, there was the slightly claustrophobic Richard Serra exhibit, the One Night of Fire event, a sprawling assembly of tweaked out urban hippies on the Brooklyn Bridge, an informal rooftop voyeurism festival on the Lower East Side, a French Toast and rhubarb extravaganza in Greenpoint, an art opening in SoHo, a near encounter with food poisoning in Union Square (take note: avoid Zen Palate at all costs), some kind of multimedia thing in Chelsea that my brain is still grappling with, two summer blockbusters, and to-go margs at every opportunity.

Most recently, we all headed to Coney Island for the Siren Festival, which is widely rumored to be the last. Faced with the interminable crowds and bellies full of Nathan’s hot dogs, we decided that the best escape from the mayhem would be to take a spin on the Cyclone. So with the Black Lips playing in the background, we boarded the rickety, 70-year-old wooden roller coaster and held on for dear lives.

Only I was with two couples, so my partner for the ride was a sugary little ten year old girl named Katie. Katie is now my personal hero, because at every turn of impending death, I would catch a glimpse of her, cool as a cucumber, calmly enjoying the ride, whereas I was the exact opposite: tears streaming down my face, screaming at the top of my lungs one long exclamation, “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK.”

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Look Through Any Window

It was pretty late at work the other night, when a song came on the server that grabbed my attention. It's the kind of 70's pop ballad that's always refreshing to hear after listening to what feels like an endless loop of Chromeo or whatever else the flavor of the month is in our office. I didn't think much of it, but my esteemed colleague, Andy aka the Beard, jumped up to investigate.

To an avid record collector like Andy, listening to a song without knowing the artist is sacrilegious. And to be fair, this really isn’t just any song. It’s eerie and catchy, a hard combination to master. When he came back to the editorial corner, he had the name of the band and song, along with a wild look in his eye. The band is old, but new.

A Raincoat, It Came in the Night.

We set out to do some quick research on the web, yielding sparse results in terms of Google hits, which deems the band obscure in my book. See this article, by a dude who spent seven years tracking down the unreleased single. To spend seven years looking for a song is a little much in my opinion, but I can sort of see what motivated the guy. It’s pretty tragic that a band that good could so easily float off into obscurity like that, especially when there is so much mediocre music/art that is so easily being released today.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Regatta de Blanc

The point of any successful vacay should be to lead a life that is completely opposite from your normal day-to-day routine, and in Jamaica we managed to do just that. Some fools brought Blackberries and laptops, which seemed hideously out of place in the Caribbean paradise, but I was perfectly content not to stare at a single screen for five days.

Instead, my hours were spent in a consistent state of active relaxation, swimming, eating, kayaking, snorkeling, eating, mingling with locals, dancing, napping, and beaching. One afternoon, when we were holed up in a Rasta hut after getting caught in a torrential downpour – it happens every afternoon in the tropics, they call it liquid sunshine, when the rain shoots directly through the sun – I learned the real way to eat a mango. Apparently, the trick is to peel each strip of skin back with your teeth and then bite into in a rotating fashion, using the cluster of skins for leverage, similar to eating corn on the cob. From then on, while some guests were hooked on the ganja, I was addicted to the fruit, both of which were available in equal abundance.

Negril, the area we were staying in, is about an hour from Montego Bay and full of gringo tourist traps that you have to navigate through in order to find the true destinations of the locals. Some of our best meals were had in shacks, and I went on an all seafood kick, only breaking from it when tasting the occasional jerk chicken plate.

When the Jamaicans are comfortable in your presence, though, they let their real accents out in a slow rhythmic mix of slang, and it becomes hard to believe that we’re all speaking the same language. The only other base of comparison I have to this language barrier is drinking pints in the UK with a couple of old Irish villagers. Or, stateside, it’s kind of similar to trying to differentiate between a Boston and Maine dialect.

The wedding itself was lovely, with less than 40 people in the ceremony, and directly on the beach, sunset in the background. In the company of such a small amount of spectators, it seemed almost like we were spying on a couple’s elopement. My favorite part of the ceremony, though, is that for some reason we ate the cake before dinner, which is how I think every meal should be fulfilled.

Indeed, it was a life of fantasy, the best kind really. And now I’m back in the daily grind, thinking about how I’d give anything to trade my job tasks with the stress of deciding how much SPF to use or whether to order a Pina Colada or Daiquiri.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007



Well, blahg, I'm off to Jamaica now for some weddingry. That's Jamaica, the island, not Jamaica, Queens. I know, my life is really hard.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Last night at Craft (three point five stars, one of the best meals I’ve had in NYC), I was appalled by the behavior of the group sitting next to us. They were dressed in blue jeans and baseball caps, and they weren’t even talking, as they were too busy playing with their new iPhones. “They’re trying not to be recognized,” our waiter informed us.

Upon closer inspection, I was sitting five feet away from Leonardo DiCaprio, who was eating dinner with Q-Tip, which almost caused the beet risotto to jump from my stomach. Leonardo DiCaprio, the sole recipient of my desire as a 15-year-old! His image used to be plastered all over the walls of my bedroom, not to mention my heart.

And what a useful infatuation to have at fifteen years old, since it also served as my alibi. When Titanic came out, it’s true I saw it once and loved every minute. But then every Friday for an entire month, I told my parents I was going to dinner with friends and seeing Titanic, yet again. That gave me a five hour time slot to ride around in cars with boys and do other harmless acts that were strictly banned from my 8th grade repertoire, only feeling slightly guilty when my grandmother presented to me a Leonardo DiCaprio fan book on my birthday.

Yet now we’ve both aged a bit, Leo and me, and that spark is gone. How Leo managed to make me swoon so hard, I no longer know. Maybe it was his crude table manners – he actually used his knife as a fork – or maybe I am just jealous of his iPhone. But, really, idolized screen stars are not meant to be seen in real life.

The real is always weak; the imagination is by nature platonic. It concentrates and fills in the missing parts, making everything, everybody better looking. So that even when I saw his version of Romeo, along with every other lovesick teenybopper, we were all filling in what was not there on the screen. And it’s the filling that first falls apart against the sight of the real.

Oh Leo, you hurt me so.