Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Shadow Of The Sphinx

It's not often that we come up against the conventions of our blogging. Fairly simple, mostly, avoid too much explicit identifying information, use asterisks when swearing, and affect a condescending tone, one heightened by liberal use of the Royal We.

We'd also maintain that we have been scrupulous in avoiding giving out any explicit clues to our gender. This will be of little interest to the 90% of readers that know us, and we'll accept that naming our companion Cutesome offers is hardly deep cover. But pretending to be a pansexual being somewhat akin to a gas is a comforting affectation. We hold to it dearly.

How then, reader, do we intend to review a lesbian bar? Easy, ignore the sausage famine, and concentrate on the space. And the space, we must say, is rather fine. We're not bitter at Catyshack for stealing our idea of building a comfortable, yet hip, bar on Fourth Avenue. We understand, you see that, the owner was booted out of the Mieow Mix spot on the Lower East side, and recognise, moreover, that we'd have included a more pronounced auto shop motif as well as more breeders.

And it's mostly because they've assembled an awesome roof deck with a view, added cooling, and a nicely turned out crowd, some of which were men, and some of which were straight, but not that many. Moreover, the split levels, exposed brick and slightly outrageous drink prices are very not Brooklyn. Cool.

We missed the most recent Kill Henry Sugar and Dirtbombs shows, and were ultimately thwarted by an insurance salesman in our quest for Oneida, down at the East River Amphitheater yesterday afternoon.

We did manage to catch the fun and hyper-camp Extra Action Marching Band, complete with testicle-bearing majorettes and many drums. They are from Oakland and are to marching bands as jam-klezmer titans Kugelplex are to their chosen genre. They jumped and blew and shimmied around that amphitheater like the maroon and black freaks they are, and we are glad we ambled through the projects to see them.

In fact we'd have plugged their show tonight at the Knitting Factory if:

a)We thought you spent all Sunday reloading this page waiting for hot musical picks
b)We hadn't spent yesterday evening swilling Anchor Steam at the eager to please but somewhat scatty Smith Street joint Apartment 138.
c)We hadn't spent today sunning ourselves at the brutalist beach monument that is Robert Moses State Park.

To recap, we absolutely own Apartment 138 and Cattyshack, and if that isn't disgusting heterosexual male posturing for you, we don't know what is.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Voice Views

Voice Views
Originally uploaded by Gringcorp.
Apologies for the paucity of posting, we've been somewhat occupied, and unusually enraptured, by the day job.

The purpose of this post is to put up another one of our Coney pictures, because, the art-clowns apparently do not require them. So instead we shall use one here. This picture demonstrates that hipsters come in all shapes and sizes, and that we really need to compose pictures better.

There's one drawback that we've discovered in the more devolved system of municipal government, as practiced here in the United States, and it basically covers the type of corruption available to your devolved governor.

And yes, it's inspiration is the stadium scam. We've been puzzled by the willingness of the city government to put quite so much weight behind the construction of new stadiums. It was interesting the way that new projects accounted for so much of New York's bid for the Olympics, and it was interesting how much the mayor put so much weight behind the projects even after the Olympics were lost.

And then it hit us - was there ever a city that suffered from such a tight linkage between real estate interests and municipal government? To be sure, real estate interests have always been part of the seamy undercurrent of any city's politics, but from Trump to Ratner to Related's Stephen Ross, they enjoy unusual prominence.

You'd think, for instance, that if the city was serious about attracting more convention traffic they'd have a go at stemming the tide of hotels converting into apartment buildings. Er, say what you like about Robert Moses, but the man had a vision, even if it included the Prospect Expressway.

In theory, any damage wrought by real estate money might come up against an alternative agenda on the part of the state government. But, even assuming that the state isn't run by a disgusting valueless hack like George Hacktaki, there's much less incentive to act against such small projects.

Back in our home country the corrupt industrialist or nationwide consulting firm might find it useful to bribe a national party but such corruption is much harder to effect at a local level. It is for instance, the reason why UK projects tend to come with much more vigorous feasibility studies, but that the projects take much longer to build. Just ask the poor sods building Wembley

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

This Monkey's Going To Heaven

We've been reading Boing Boing for a few months now, and we know that it's the Daddy of blogs. But we've never had the urge to link to one of their things until now (they're much better for passing on to colleagues to look really cool). But we think that Cory has missed the implications of this little number - the VLC800 Digital Modelling Cowbell.

Three initials. D. F. A. This, my friends, will be the sound of young New York.

More Boing Boing-inpsired oddness

Blodge Job

It wasn't very heartening for us when Henry Blodget got a job at Slate. Blodget was an analyst at Merrill Lynch who became known for wildly optimistic calls on technology stocks. He was banned from the securities industry after the crash, and amid allegations of fraud, and promptly took up financial journalism. Oh goody, we thought, imagining a herd of unemployed analysts with CFAs bearing down on our innumerate behinds.

And Blodget's initial dispatches from the Google IPO and Martha Trial weren't bad, mostly because of the experience he brought to his reporting, experience which required a lengthy, but admirable, disclosure. Financial journlists are usually given a pass on understanding the machiations of the market, even the good ones, and idea of having, er, pros involved was not a pleasant one.

But then Blodget went downhill, turning in some pretty unspectacular dispatches from China, which have said, in so many words, that China is a forbidding place for foreigners to do business. All only 210 years after Lord George McCartney first reported on this phenomenon.

But Blodget's enthusiasm and knack for jarring the reader is usually expressed through numbers. He lacks a journalist's nose for ferreting out interesting angles, and can be wearyingly even-handed. This shouldn't do because, in Dan Gross and particularly Edward Jay Epstein, Slate has two awesomely fun business writers. Blodget's latest, on the investment portfolio of John Roberts, Supreme Court nominee, is especially limp:

"Roberts' one-eighth share of the cottage in Limerick (worth less than $15,000), combined with an investment in the 'New Ireland Fund' (also less than $15,000) suggest a possible Gaelic fetish."

Respect to Slate for an investigation into an overlooked part of Roberts' history, but they didn't have to publish it, let alone give it picture of the day.

Yes, we did promise you a searing expose of the miasma of limp prose that is Urb. But having done a wee bit more research - although to be honest the ads for turntables should have been a dead giveaway - we now realise that such an excercise would be pointless. Since we have only a passing ability with a cross-fader, it would seem to be a tad churlish to take pops at a patchy dance music fanzine that happens to have a lot of advertising in it.

Dance music journalism has always existed to provide some sort of bedrock level of self-respect to other music writers. Yep, that bad. It's wary, even as so much of dance music has gone mainstream, of taking a pop at its practitioners. This misguided solidarity, as well as an underground mentality that has been unable to adapt to the money sloshing around in thhe industry, has been responsible for some really boring music. And, yes, dancey drug monkeys rarely function well plonked down in front of typewriters.

But a few hints. Writing "whom", when "that", "which", or even "who" would work better, is a good way to make you look silly. And we probably shouldn't be going on about typos, but maybe you should spend some of the turntable guys' money on a copy editor. And finally, never write these sentences again:

"Heads came out in droves late on a Tuesday night to the recently renovated Mercy Lounge, a massive brick building which used to serve as a cannery many moons ago. But the only cans that were shaking this particular Tuesday were attached to legs that coudn't stop moving to the beats emitted from the stage."

Don't mention it, you're welcome.

[UPDATE. Rikey. Wonkette weighs in on the Blodge several hours later. Never dined with the quality before. No, Gothamist doesn't count.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Purple Pros

Gratuitious pop at Gothamist of the day. We're heartened that Gothamist is trying to be more spiky of late. But...but, but, but, we need to be rather careful with party ID. Comparing the proposed bill from Rep. John Salazar, who wants to outlaw the wearing of fake medals, with the antics of protesters at the DNC last summer, who mocked John Kerry's Purple Heart, well, that's good. Tutting at the behaviour, not so good. Omitting to mention that Salazar is a Democrat and the Kerry bashers were Republicans, well that's pretty bad. Salazar hitching his star to an Owen Wilson movie (where veteran impersonation is used as a seduction tool) is pretty silly, but the politics of the move is smart, especially since Democrats are currently trying to prove their credentials on matters military.

Trak Hack Attack

We were in DC last weekend, finding the new, flash, most important and exclusive places to own. We started off with the Washington National Cathedral, where we had nuptials to witness. The Cathedral's an imposing structure, and like St John The Divine, here in New York, is a purpose-built Anglican/Episopal Cathedral. The ones in the UK had usually started life as Catholic churches, before being converted as part of the Reformation.

But we must say that the differences are negligible, if only because the wave of Episcopal church-building in the US took place in the nineteenth century, when the Gothic revival was in full swing. There are important differences with Catholic churches in the US, since interiors tend to be more spartan, but in outside appearances Episcopa structures are much of a muchness with their Papist counterparts. We were prevented from conducting a closer examination by virtue of being hideously late for the aforementioned holy matrimony, although we still got to sit in the spot reserved for the headmaster of St Albans National Cathedral School For Boys. Rock.

We trooped out past the grockles in the nave of the church and into the party bus, imagining that few moments that day would be as rockular as our time in the choir of the National Cathedral. And then we were dropped off at the Hay-Adams Hotel, and ushered up to the roof. Where we could quaff gin while looking down onto the gardens of the White House. Fortunately, the weather was fine, there was a slight breeze, and no-one was dim enough to wave any cardboard tubes around. So the drinks, and a dinner, passed off without a hitch. Now, normally drinks afterwards mere feet from actual cannon at the Army & Navy club would be a really big deal, but we just sort of went blah and drank vodka and smoked cigars instead.

We did find time to totally control and get there first to both L'Enfant (good-ish crepes and cheese, and Bordeaux. Lots of Bordeaux), and La Fourchette (likes babies, buttery mashed potatoes).

And so to the train back, and the tender mercies of Amtrak. Now Amtrak's got the security bug, and that's no bad thing, although we note with sadness the news that the Met shot an innocent Brazilian at Stockwell last week. And we note in advance of this rant that Amtrak's website does indeed have a list of times when it will ask for ID.

Which is what makes the behaviour of the conductor that day all the more dispiriting. We had presented a UK Driver's Licence to the chap along with our tickets and an ID belonging to Cutesome. In return we got a "what is this? I need a passport" from him. We explained to him that this was considered a valid ID since it was issued by the United Kingdom (it is possible that the EU flag, denoting that this is a form of ID used by a potential half billion people, confused him). At this point it s hard to work out whether he turned stupid or sarcastic, since he asked "what is this United Kingdom? Is it a state? This is worthless in this country. You know, we got terrorism now."

The big problem here is that it appears from the above-linked page that a UK licence, which has got us money at a bank, a rental car and entrance to the finest office buildings in the country, is indeed acceptable ID. The only places it will not take you are an aeroplane and ESPN Zone. The latter, as you can imagine, channelling Groucho Marx and images of rampaging guidos, is not causing us much lost sleep. The former we quite understand, since ID requiremments are applied consistently and vigorously before we even get on to the plane. Not in the form of mumbled insults halfway between DC and Baltimore

It is we guess, an inevitable part of the war on terrorism that sundry functionaries will feel enpowered as agents of National Security to act like fools. And by talking very slowly and being white we were able to convince the guy to drop it. But it's the nearest we've come to viewing first hand the effects of having poorly-trained and blinkered people providing Uncle Sam's outward face. We've been screwed several times by consular and immigration staff, but they, at least, kept it polite and professional while doing it.

Tell you what, Amtrak. You go and enforce universal ID requirements, do it consistently and professionally, and tell us exactly what you require. And in return we will go and take the plane, or maybe a nice immigrant-run Chinatown bus. How about that, you patronising scumclowns?

We just remembered this series of books from the 80s called The Amtrak Wars whereby Amtrak provided the kernel of a post-apocalyptic society on earth. At first glance the dapper uniforms might lend some weight to this idea. Having seen how their personnel react to unfamiliar pieces of paper, let alone nuclear weapons, we are much less convinced.

Coming up. Just how bad is Urb Magazine?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Two Kindsa Fear

We seem to have picked a rather poor weekend to take to mass transit. Yesterday's mini-bombs, which contrary to our earlier assumptions, did not result in any captures, were followed by a shooting in Stockwell, probably 300 yards from where we grew up. Still, enough reminiscing, and we do hope they got the right man.

We don't quite buy Mr Gilliard's musings on the shootings, or the bombings, both of which strike us as unduly cynical. But, again, wearily again, hang in there to the UK massive. You're fortunate that you havent - yet - been subjected to massive and pointless bag searches.

The delightful Mayor Mike decided to debut these just as we needed to drag a fifty pount roller case through the subway this morning. Since, however, Bergen Street was delightfully deserted by the time we thought about leaving the 'ouse, we were unmolested. Whether the same will be true for the DC Metroliner this evening we do not know.

Head on over to Banana Nutrament for Mig-Hell's cunning, and hopefully legit plot to take on the Markowitz-clown. We do hope he reads this article by Christopher Ketcham in Harpers on the broad qualities of the Brooklyn Democratic machine. Mr. Ketcham, who is also one of the few writers putting forward a coherent picture of what Brooklyn would resemble if this real-estate Wild West materialises, does not make it look pretty.

We, off course, will be delighted to visit such a celberity blogger in jail, and will at the very least try and spread the "Indie Judy Miller" moniker, but with luck it will not come to that. In the mean time, maybe he will allow us to suggest some appropriate equipment for the benefit concert:

Thursday, July 21, 2005

No, Thank You, Really, Thank You

Fox News on London: "This is...a city on edge". Berk

CNN monkeyclown: "Did they reopen the subway too soon?"

Potted instant theory. We're dealing with a cricket-fan evil mastermind. It is, after all, the first day of the Ashes. The Oval, apart from being five minutes from where we were baptised, has little else in the way of schwerpunkts, apart from being near a cricket ground.

More Idiots

More London bombs. Looks like some of the idiots behind them might be taken alive. Three "incidents", in the patois of our homeland, a lot of blown windows, and possibly an attempt to rattle people. Hope it stays that way.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Corn Free

Hello kids, we're in the mood for a slightly more cerebral post today. It concerns ethanol, and is one of those reasons that we're grateful for (semi-)anonymity. See, we spend some of our time chatting to people who finance new ethanol projects, and there was a mini-boom in construction of these, followed by a recent slow-down.

Ethanol is, well, alcohol, distilled from corn and then poured into gasoline/petrol, instead of down a hillbilly's throat. It replaced MTBE, a derivative of methanol, as a fuel additive. MTBE was among the substances which replaced lead in petrol, but has since been accused of polluting groundwater.

So we have here an article in Slate, pointing out that ethanol's shortccomings as a fuel additive, and the huge subsidies attached to its production, as well as research that shows that it sometimes takes more energy to create ethanol than it produces. Now it's true that next time a wild-eyed environmentalist starts screeching about
"biofuels", one should take a sharp look at what fuels are being displaced, as well as how we produce them.

But as far as we're aware otherwise there's only MTBE available as an additive, and MTBE certainly doesn't use much energy to produce, but it has the whole contaminating groundwater thing. You could use diesel cars, but these have never been hugely popular in the US. And even hybrids need to use some petrol.

So what is ethanol? It's a bridge. It will be needed for as long as cars use gas and refiners won't add MTBE to their fuel. Rather like wind farms, which are rather ugly but better than nuclear or coal power. The fact that ethanol is inefficient and heavily subsidised doens't make it a bad idea. It does, however, suggest that drivers, rather than taxpayers, should be supporting the difference between the amount that the stuff fetches on the market riight now, and what it costs to provide a return to farmers and distillers.

Quick note, though. The studies that the author, Robert Bryce, cites of the energy output of ethanol do not, as far as we can tell, include the byproduct, which can be used as animal feed, and has both a small calorific content, and a small econmomic value. We haven't seen the research yet, but think it's worth considering.

We've also been woozily covering the story of the Guardian trainee that offered up an explanation for the actions four idiots that wanted to make a difference by blowing up random people in London. Turns out he's a member of a radical Islamic group. We're not sure that disqualifies him from writing op-eds for the Guardian, although his writing should do the trick nicely. His reporting is meant to have been fairly good.

Moreover, if you're going to run something about this, as Brand republic did, try not to use the Moonie-owned Washington Times as a barometer of where US feeling stands on the matter. In fact, refrain wherever possible for usiing the Times of Washington as a source on anything.

Monday, July 18, 2005

All Your Clown Votes, They Are Belong To Us

Oh, sweet lord, please say it ain't so....

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hawk Ayeee!

Hawk Ayeee!
Originally uploaded by Gringcorp.
So, we had been sent by one of our many celebrity collaborators to the Siren Festival to find pictures of faux-hawks. Unfortunately we're a coward, so we didn't get any hugely good ones. Except for maybe this one. Although in our discussions with a former celebrity punker (cropped, we fear), he thinks that this be an actual mohawk. It's all to do with the ratio between shaved area and peak, apparently. This one might be a bit marginal.

What Is The Spanish For "Rotten Little Scumclown"?

So Ted Heath is no more. The last British politician wholly unsuited to the practice of politics died today. To be personally prickly, yet politically reasonably compassionate, was quite a feat. The passing of the last pro-European Tory prime minster should be an occasion for the Tories to reflect upon what they've lost. But Ted no longer has a place in official Tory history - the leadership still acts faintly embarrassed whenever his name crops up.

Restaurants we have now pwned:

  • Miriam. Site of the former Surreal Cafe, the staff are much less rude, and the quality is better. We had brunch, so we can't really comment on the full depth of the Middle eastern thing they have going on. We had a tasty-ass croque-madame, and Cutesome had baked eggs. We think they deserve to live.

  • Calcutta Curried chopped liver, live sitars, pretty bog standard chicken biryani. Something to do with a bachelor party that dare not speak its name. Also took in a place called Apple, which Citysearch is denying.

  • Maxwell's over in Hoboken. Although we weren't the only celebrity bloggers there that night.

We have many cultual experiences to discuss, including Dungen and Siren, but we may have to palm it off elsewhere. The next post will be very shallow.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Resident Evil

Bah, think Gringcorp has lost the flair for hard-hitting reportage, do you? Think again. Super top secret surveillance on the Seventh Avenue Q Train stop. It's muggy. Accosting the passengers-to-be is a fainty creepy man in a Mickey Mouse hat and T-shirt, with a petition. "Give Marty Markowitz some opposition in the next election". Hear, hear.

Now we hope that here we are not divulging or pre-empting or leaking any super ultra ninjuno secret information here, and apologise in advance for any betraying any confidences here, but we were chatting to a celebrity Brooklyn blogger named after a dietary supplement and they mentioned that what ther next Borough election really needed was a spoiler candidate called "Marky Martowitz" to annoy the hell out of our annoying borough president. We heartily agree, although getting the signatures together is a beast.

So, we're very happy to hear that the libertarian party candidate, Gary Popkin is throwing his hat in the ring. His platform seems to mostly be based around a rant about smoking and emminent domain, which should at least endear him to the Freddy's crowd. We had respectfully decline to provide a signature, because the man is likely to face enough crap from the Brooklyn Democratic machine without having dubious foreign signatures on his petition. But we wish him well.

Head over to the aformentioned Valhalla among blogs for a chat between Mig-Hell and ourselves over female post-punk covers.

And later, there will be Ninjas. Lots of Ninjas, Bond-san

P.S. We weren't the only people to get excited about played out fake papers.Gothamist got hit too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

One For The Hamster Cage

Not our first choice for a headline, to be honest, that was the last post. In fact we'd intended to handle the subject matter herein during the last installment, but got sort of distracted by hipster morons. So, put the last headline mentally over this one.

We managed to get a chance to share some of Cutesome's Commute (great song title!) this morning, and were so rapt that we did not notice the new paper being handed out at the Bergen Street stop. We are not huge fans of free papers, and like the fake ones even less. But Cutesome grabbed one, and is was while we were leeringpeering over their shoulder that our personal and professional interest was piqued. For Lo, in front of us was this miraculous object. A fake, pro-stadium, pro-Ratner newspaper!

We shall link but once more to the accursed object here.

Now, perusing the rotten thing, we have found very few completely honest statements so far, although there is the barest wisp of an acknowledgement that the thing is fake:

"We are not trying to compete with daily, weekly or local papers. Our goal is simple: to share information about Atlantic Yards with the people of Brooklyn and to create an even greater dialogue as we go forward."

We also learn that Ratner's crew is not content to rob the corpses of the '55 Dodgers, and has named this execrable freesheet after a paper where Walt Whitman was once published. Charming. We would love for there to be at some point in the 16 pages either some entertainment, or, failing that, some information. Instead, and we must congratulate Mr. R for this feat, there is neither.

What do we get? Several pages of adverts for Ratner tenants or organisations to which he donates, interspersed with fake "lifestyle" features (which do indeed make Metro's drivel look like poetry), bogus news stories, and puff editorials. Lots of puff editorials. Frank Macchiarola, Marty Golden, Herb Daughtry, and Ratner himself. Then there are the readers' letters from Mayor Mike ("I look forward to reading about this project my deputy foisted on your neighborhood") and State Senator Martin Malave Dilan ("I'll be looking to the Brooklyn Standard to help fill me in. Beats proper research, right, kids?").

Have we missed anyone here? Oh, do excuse us. Yes, that comical shill Marty Markowitz did indeed get a half page to ramble on incoherently about the sprawling bunch of vanity projects with which he wishes to scar the borough of his birth. We'd missed his performance on NY1 this morning, where, according to our dear Cutesome, he managed to grin fatuously and encourage last night's concertgoers in Prospect Park to drink themselves silly (we'll remember that, you hypocritical old fool). We're glad to know he's on such fine form.

Now we're feeling a tad guilty right now, since as part of an epic three-part furniture-staining operation we boosted a large quantity of the admirably tenacious Brooklyn Papers as protection. Still in future, we have the perfect substitute. That's right Brucey, for once you can help clean up OUR mess.

[UPDATE. Oooops. Apparently the newspaper has been circulating for a few weeks now, a fact we only discovered after sending the news to the mighty No Land Grab. Credit to Curbed for noting this, at a time when we were still in exile]

[SUPER DOUBLE SECRET UPDATE: Damn you're a moron, Gringcorp. This is from the Daily News. This is from the NY Sun, and this is what you get for being deported and then compounding your ignorance by dispensing with google and assuming that the best place to debut a propaganda rag would be the corner of Bergen and Flatbush at 8.30 am on a Thursday]

Standard Tissue

We're not happy at all that The Leeds has been outed as a hotbed of extremism, as evidenced by the recent raids of addresses there. We've always been fond of the place, and see it as one of the few bastions of enlightenment in the north (trust us, we're from Scunthorpe). Hugely deprived areas there are, and not just Chapeltown, the dark trench over which one must pass between the city centre and the Elysian Fields of Chapel Allerton. Much of the north of England has moved on from city versus country, a debate that was settled over a century ago and only resonates these days in London's commuter belt, to a more sinister set of racial tensions. The East End of London used to be the most fertile ground for a racist politican to get elected, but it is now the towns and villages of Yorkshire and Lancashire that offer more fruitful prospects. The top oldie mouldering ground portayed in Last of the Summer Wine is long gone.

And while we are on the subject of uninformed and poorly thought-out opinions, meet Ultragrrrl, a.k.a. Sarah Lewitinn, interviewed today in Gothamist (yes we know, we know, it's like crack for RSS-babies). Now, as you can imagine, we're not fans of unapologetic "Trends", particularly those that brought the world Louis XIV (god we're decadent, dahlings!).

We also disagree spectacularly with her claim that music journalists should be paid better. Most journallists should definitely be paid more, particularly in those industries where money is unlikely to screw up the source material. Music is one of those things that money screws up hopelessly - with the occasional, but not universal, exception of Spiritualized albums. It's a hobby, and Sarah's, um, career should be a good example of this. Do you detect the rantings of a failed music journalist here? Oh yes you do.

Anyway, the far more egregious remark came a little earllier. We'll reproduce it here:

"You know how people with Down syndrome are really nice and happy all the time because their brains aren't developed enough to have negative emotion? I'm sort of like that, except my brain is a little more formed. Only a little."

Very good work, Sarah. Now, we'll confess to not being a huge expert on Down's Syndrome, but we've certainly seen people with Down's Syndrome get upset. And yes, something about a smug scenester calling people with a disability cheerful space cadets did stick in our craw. So we went to the website of the National Down Syndrome Society and pulled up this FAQ:

Myth: People with Down syndrome are always happy.

Truth: People with Down syndrome have feelings just like everyone else in the population. They respond to positive expressions of friendship and they are hurt and upset by inconsiderate behavior.

Sarah, on the other hand never, ever, ever, gets upset by inconsiderate behaviour.

Coming up, the latest, and vilest free paper in the 'hood. It's a doozy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Gonzo Journalism

Cropping up on our little Sage window in Firefox was this instriguing headline from Slate. The Gonzales Game - Is he really the best Supreme Court pick liberals can hope for? By Emily Bazelon. Awesome! A hidden liberal for us to salivate over, and keep us warm until Rehnquist retires. Carefully nurtured away from evil influences like some judicial Luke Skywalker. Spent the last couple of years making a peculiar humming noise whenever abortion was mentioned. Top.

Except it isn't a list of other judges that the liberals might find acceptable. It's a rehashing of the idiocies perpetrated by Gonzales as AG for Bush in Washington and Texas, such as one might find in a recycled column. To explain VERY CAREFULLY to Ms. Bazelon, Democrats know that Gonzales has some very dodgy case work on Torture and Death behind him, and is certain to be a revolting corporate shill given half the chance.

But, he doesn't seem to want to overturn Roe vs. Wade, enrages the hard right, and will be very difficult to oppose given his background and the fact he's already been confirmed for a job by the senate. We are unlikely to get any better than him, since the rest of Bush's picks are fairly hardcore, as Bazelon notes shortlly after the enticing headline. Now bugger off to Legal Tatooine and find us the hidden liberal.

Tonight - probably not the Philharmonic in the park, more's the pity. No, tonight we alphabetise. And shall never hear tell of that again.

Are "Trends" Emetic?

To say that we had a wickedy-wickedy rock pig weekend would be putting it mildly. We cannot go too much into the details of the Sunday, since it involved, almost exclusively, day job people. Let's just say it involved a banqueting hall in the Flatlands (had you heard of this section before? It's sort of between Brighton Beach and Carnarsie), and an actual wedding feast involving too many courses, an additional feast during the cocktail hour, and a flaming mobile desert service. Phew. And the Saturday involved half of the readers of this site, so we need not recap it here.

So what are we going to natter about here? Good question. Shelving? Karl Rove? [Actually, you should go and watch the press conference video if you have a moment. It has one of those hugely cool "the American people demand answers!" moments, where the rather important gentlemen of the press lose their sh*t].

No, we think we will blather along inconsequentially about what it means to be a teenager in Scandinavia. In tribute to the current incarceration of top administration mouthpiece Judy Miller, we wil base our musings on a single source, the aforepimped Lords Of Chaos about the rise of the satanic metal underground in Norway.

Now what always struck us as rather cool was how dismissive the metallers were of the people that stayed current in music. It seemed, and we're prepared to be corrected, that this wasn't the Ace Of Base crew of teenyboppers that was getting them upset so much as the hipsters. They called them "Trends", which struck us as one of the cute slightly off expressions that sometimes crop up in Scandinavians' excellent English. The category, we will own, is possibly a bit more expansive than mere hipster, and may even expand so far as intriguing psych-rock heroes Motorpsycho

Now, you can probably guess where we're going now, but it's not really going to degenerate into a fully-fledged rant against people with cute T-shirts from flyover state grocery stores and compelling haircuts. But we've always been impressed by the fact that the only abuse hurled at hipsters broadly comes from people that might, in the right light, be accussed of being hipsters themselves. Even the Times seems to be rather fond of them. And then along comes the most unlovely subgenre in musical history to decide that, no, it really does not like them one bit.

A willful misunderstanding of thin source material? Quite possibly, but then we're in Bush America right now, and can't think of anything nice to say today.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Ninjuno Nuggets

Been meaning to work that word, "Ninjuno", into a post for a while, since it's our contrived expresssion for the week. Still very angry about the bombs, but we think it 's be time to check out some ephemera instead:
  • Everyone's favorite hep-bogger, caught on camera at the ballpark. For those of you with Tivo, and without the Secret Identity, look out for the one wearing a patented "Riley Monkey" outfit. Charming.

  • Cutesome has been luring us in front of the telly using WILES, before turning on this ghastly yet strangely compeling show called Kept, whereby Jerry Hall achieves several long-held objectives: to score a boy toy, to prove that her terrible English accent KICKS THE ASS of the terrible English accents of Madonna and Dick Van Dyke, and to provide gainful employment for faded rockstars and their girlfriends. This week's episode featured a polo instructor called Tarquin Southwell (AWESOME!) and Pete Townshend of The Who. Pete's presence was a tad jarring, since we had assumed he was still lying low after the porn episode.

  • Finally, this sentence from The Beeb's aftermath coverage caught our attention:
    "In the London bombings forensics will be crucial, says Gloria Laycock, director at the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science."

    We had no idea that Jill Dando, a fragrant crime reporter with passing facial similarities to Princess Diana who was randomly killed in 1999, had inspired her own institute. But apparently it does, with digs at University College London, and its own professor. Whch is baffling, one of those details that reminds us that we're never as plugged in to the homeland as we think.

On with the day job, our condolences to those of you who weren't as fortunate to escape loss in the bombings as we were, and have a rocking weekend.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Somewhere Under London

We can't help ourselves, even on this spectacularly sh*tty day. It's a Candyskins song, sort of bittersweet and defiant, although the lyrics don't quite fit. We did all the checks, and as far as we can tell, the cru is all present and correct, although one is trapped in an apartment near one of the blasts with only the cricket for company. Hates the first person plural, but that's no reason for getting caught up in both 9-11 and 7-7. MY sympathies are with you.

An atttack on London was probably inevitable, although we couldn't really pretend to have the foresight that Hitch brings to his analysis. We're sympathetic with his idea that "Europe is steadily becoming a part of the civil war that is roiling the Islamic world," although that sentiment doesn't seem to take us anywhere from here. And Iraq has something to do with our friends trudging back home on foot today, as much as we'd like to separate it from the attacks.

We always felt that London had a kind of privileged position in Middle Eastern politics. It's home to a huge number of Muslim dissidents, of whom several felt that, say, the Saudi government wasn't hardcore enough, as well as a favoured playground of wealthy Arab rulers. We had, it must be said, always assumed that this afforded London a measure of protection, as a form of neutral ground, whatever the actions of UK governments. This was, and we need only have looked at earlier history to have confirmed this, a daft assumption to make. Probably a part of the British sellf-image that the country gets on much better with people from other continents than other Europeans. With luck this doesn't swing the other way wildly.

Quick note, part of the ephemera, and in no way meant to constitute a conspiracy theory. The private firms that have been upgrading the London Underground under a PPP arrangement, have apparently fallen behind, as we can attest from being at Russell Square station only eight days ago. They are, as part of the arrangement, designed to compensate the government for falling behind, although several have argued that they should have paid more. Since the attacks are an event for which the private sector would not have to take responsibility, it is likely that they will get a break on much of the upgrade work. Just sayin'.


So the horrible wee scumbags have set off bombs on what we using as a route to work only a week ago. Bloomsbury, Liverpool Street, Moorgate. It's the first spot where we lay our head in London, and where the bus bombs went off. We know the family are fine, but no word from friends yet, so here's hoping for the best.

The Beeb has been masterful so far, so we're staying peeled.

Stay safe

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Shadow Triangle

The New York Times proves once again that it has its head to the ground when the issue of the new Nets stadium and field of skyscrapers rears its ugly head. It sent out Robert Worth into the Slope with a single pentrating question - "would it be cool with you if they built this gigantic high-rise monstrosity on your doorstep?" And the deafening response comes back "we'd rather not". So far so peachy, and we don't think the Gray Lady has really discovered anything ginormously, er, fresh.

But it did clear up one mystery for us. Who is the really rather lackadaisical shopkeeper that runs a sporting goods store on the corner of Flatbush, Fifth Avenue and Dean Street?

"Henry Rosa, 55, the co-owner of a sporting goods store at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, said: 'I suspect it will be great for us. Once the project is complete, with new residents here, it will bring us more traffic.' But he said that if he lived in the area, he would probably be angry."

We really wish that were so Mr. Triangle Sports, but as we both know this massive influx of sports fans will more likely enrich the mighty O'Connor's than your good self, because you're NEVER BLOODY OPEN.

Fly The Euro Skies

We had thought that with the departure of Prince Rainier, and the responsibilities that this would impose upon his offspring, we would be hearing less of the unbelievably trashy antics of Monaco's royal family. But the Grimaldis are a fountain of sleaze that just keeps on giving.

We have remarked before that the rulers of the Monegasques pioneered a sort of barely-dignified scandal suited to a certain type of middlebrow glossy magazine. Nothing too tawdry, but still agreeably debased. Prince Albert, the new ruler, we had heard was a bit more dull. Nyuh-huh.

The dirty old bugger has apparently fathered a love-child with a Togolese flight attendant, sez the Beeb. Hallelujah, sez we, since we had assumed that the sixties sex scandal that was shagging transportation personnel had gone the way of the dodo. In fact, even top playboy Tony Curtis was unable to properly evoke the thrill of affairs with trolly dollies, in noted stinker Boeing (707) Boeing (707).

So, top work Albert, in ushering back in the ridicule that this tax-dodgers' statelet so richly deserves.

You Eeediot, Greencorp!

We spoke too soon. Arch-Clown Marty Markowitz was up right after the Olympic announcement pimping the desecration of several blocks of Brooklyn loveliness. "Eh, it's a bridge between two beautiful neighbourhood, rather then a moat, and its an exciting new chapter for America's fourth largest city, which is, of course, Brooklyn." No, we did not know that you disgusting clown. We're just happy that the loss of the Olympics does not appear to have kept you from your obeisance to real estate interests.

The bids are due in today on the Atlantic yards, and unless an eccentric millionaire comes through a with a bid to turn it over to pasture or children, then Grand Scumclown Bruce Ratner wins this round. Boo

Liveblogging The Decision!

Well, we got back from our morning constitutional to find Cutesome gesticulating wildly at the telly. And the Euro guy was opening the envelope and London won. Which as far as this limey is concerned is a Good Thing. Because apparently the Mets get to keep their new stadium, but iit might just make the emminent domain/Ratner scam a bit harder.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Miller, Er, Time

Probably not the first people to use that headline to demarcate Judith Miller business (not even close, alas). And we bring absolutely no special knowledge to "the decade's most important First Amendment battle"(TM). In fact, throwing tantrums at Canadian civil servants is about as near as we get.

But pride and vanity - those things we understand completely. Miller swallowed rather uncritically some very silly allegations about iraq's weapons of mass destruction programme. This was undoubtedly very poor reporting. She knows it. Most of us know it. In fact, it would be fair to say that her reputation had suffered rather severely as a result.

To rescue it would require either that she acquire the most amazing sh*t possible and thus take down the military-industrial complex, or that she go down in the most virtuous ball of flame possible. Which is why the most recent filing by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (who wants her to help him find out who leaked the name of a CIA agent to noted Silas Greenback type Bob Novak) is so beautifully researched, yet so redundant.

Armies of interns have been employed searching Lexis in an attempt to prove that not everyone agrees that she can defy the Supreme court and refuse to reveal her sources. But they might be better utilised in examining the lives of Norma Desmond and Evel Knievel and the way that pride can make you do some crazy things, and let you leave a beautiful corpse. The comparisons with the time Martha did are only apt insofar as many people think that her stature was enhanced by the experience. Will Judy cave? Hell, no, this is the oonly chance at redemption, no matter how sh***y, she's got.

The Barren Commission

We had several things to celebrate last weekend - getting shot of the Americans, a birthday, the five-month anniversary of mini-Mig-Hell - that all pretence of staying up to date with the cultchah evaporated in the surprisingly benign sun. We did not even watch the fireworks, preferring instead to take in the, yes, surprisingly dark, but utterly baffling Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban. The film was bearable partly because of the slight deviation from the normal Potter story arc (the suspiciously helpful new guy is actually helpful rather than an acolyte of satan!), and the presence of monsters called Dementors, which was the name we were going to give to our first scungle* band. We shall now fall back on The Dementalists, although that has snotty gang of high school punk misfits written all over it.

Where have we been dining recently? Song, at least in take out form, which produced a massaman curry good enough to refry. We are unlikely to embrace the monster queues and exposed brick of the etablishment any time soon, especially since Cutesome beat us to the punch, but it is, to paraphrase the Mighty Guide not quite as comprehensive as Long Tan, although it is slighty cheaper.

The titanic rock pig-tastic trough of pig where we were guided by Cutesome was BLT Steak (that should win a prize or something for awesomely bad sentence construction). BLT Steak (follow the link for free jaaaaaazz!) had very solid starters, some really cool twists on the sides, and inexplicably dozy, only just the right side of insulting, service. We did get real popovers, and a good shot at the cheese cart, and free carrot cake, but also suffered epic waits between courses, were denied a little dippy thing, and received a truncated version of the wine list. We were also treated to a never-ending succession of couples and the next-door table, like we had the death sentence on 12 systems or something.

We'd go back, don't get us wrong, and we thank and offer mad love to Cutesome for the experience, but we'd make sure we were orange, dressed in a stripy short, and waving bills around like they were a Mets hat in Queens. It's that kind of scene.

*Scungle. A potent mixture of scuzz rock and jungle. Doesn't really exist, except in Dillinja's head.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Channel Live

We're still caatching up on our sleep from the homeland adventchah, and mostly lolling around the house. So, rather than queue up for fish with the concerned Slopers up at Prospect Park, we've been watching Live 8. We've been watching it much more than we'd planned, in fact. We were watching it live from a bunch of places through the Aol Stream.

We saw some Green Day, who got the mood right, a bit of REM, who are always strangely ungripping in concert, caught a snatch of Bowie playing "Heroes", which was good, and a bunch of fluff like Dido, Coldplay, Destiny's Child, and The Children.

And now Pink Floyd are playing "Wish You Were Here", which has no relevance to poverty, little to the fact they've reformed, and everything to do with a crazy, acid-wrecked recluse living in Cambridge. They were playing "Money" when it started, which was pressing the right socio-political buttons, but it's over. In facct we're so slow at typing they've moved on to "Comfortably Numb". Bugger. Still it's got the Scissor Sisters acolytes moving, or it would iif they weren't so stoned and their faux-hawks soo unstable.

Since we a teenage Floyder long after they split up, the sight of Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour sharing a stage isn't that dissonant. Certainly the sound isn't hugely different from the anodyne noises of either the The Wall as recreated by Roger Waters, or Delecate Sound of Thunder. Gilmour looks shiny, is dresssed in a rather boring fashion, and Waters looks likea grimmer Bill Maher, open-necked shirt and flowing gray hair. The lights are boring.

Whhat gets us is that Pink Floyd used to make deeply ambiguous statements about the value of rock star pomposity, and their claim to moral, let alone, political, authority. They made them in a hugely ponderous fashion, and then made the Final Cut a Waters-penned anti-Thatcher diatribe. But we hoped they were more cynical.

Do we think that Live 8 got the tone right? Was this raising awareness just going to raise Floyd album sales? Probably, although if debt relief is the only political idea moving through the heads of the grockles this week, then that's probably no bad thing. And it's a truism that a small number of idiots can swing large elections. But we're still deeply amused at the exercise, and commend you to head on up instead to the Rub, which Ninjuno Nougermment suggests you rock tonite. If we weren't to be fed by cutesome, we might agree.