Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Felt Has Presence

Third Star Wars reference of the day (the other two were in emails). So was Hal Holbrook a good choice to play Deep Throat? We let you decide:

[LATER UPDATE: Both of them have been taken down. Hotlinking is wrong, kids]

[UPDATE: Slate has by far the most trick-daddy winningest Mark Felt picture. It's so good we won't even steal it]

What's The 311?

Damn, we are so close to being a fully paid-up member of the green ink brigade. Every morning (at least the mornings we head in with cutesome), we take the 4/5 to Union Square. And it's mind-bendingly unpleasant getting out of the train, just because of the crush down to those narrow and screechy platforms. But, as we all know, human decency takes a rest between leaving the house and entering the office. So, we're elbows swinging, charging up the stairs, winsome secretary barging evildoers for this brief interlude.

But we'd like, nay, we'd love, to ease back into normal human society as soon as we exit the turnstiles, breeze through sunny Union Square on the way to our undisclosed work location. But no, we have the monkeyclowns that hand out the fake newspapers (we'll spare you the link) to deal with. They're really peristent, two sets of arms stretched across the narrow entrance, or a couple of them inside the subway bocking the way out.

(By way of digression, if we're going to suffer these pests on the subway, might not the MTA come to some kind of lucrative arrangement that might endear the monkeyclowns to commuters? The London Underground collects a fee for suffering free papers on their property, and there seems to be little reason why the MTA could not do likewise. By way of encouragement, the MTA might start enforcing a bogus security zone around subway stations. We think the policy would be wildly popular.)

The final straw, today, was the appearance of a third publication, maybe, we thought, a new venture from the Post, which had decided to quite literally give its paper away. Or the latest news from the surprisingly well-funded folks at Falun Dafa. But no, it's a fake newspaper from Eva Moskowitz, who is running a suspiciously well-funded campaign for Manhattan Borough President.

We've really got too much on our plate to be taking a thorough look at Ms. M.'s site, or indeed rate her prospects to succeed C. Virginia Fields. We'll just say the site looks like solid classs-president stuff, and if she doesn't sound like the sort of student politician you wanted to throw gloop at back in the day then you should be reading Gothamist right now. Our endorsement? Vote not litterbug-enabling shiny face Eva, that's what.

Monday, May 30, 2005

It's A Husker Du Song, Only, Ya Know, Third Person

So, we’re reminded of the episoode of South Park from the seventh series, where Cartman’s hand turns into Jennifer Lopez. Not the extremely dodgy hispanic stereotypes, which makes you laugh along nervously like the hip liberal you are. Not the gratuitous insults at poor Jenny, which made us laugh loudly like the metalhead we are. Those are important elements, mind, and you can sing along here.

No, we’re more jarred by the whole “is Cartman for real?” narrative. How Stan and Kyle are determined not to believe that Cartman’s hand is possessed by an ambitious Latina diva. And Cartman is prepared to allow Ben Affleck to deflower his hand rather than give up the game. In the end, ultraviolence and a near inundation of semen forces both sides to come to their senses. But not before

If you think this is a rather hamfisted and tendentious way of referring to some of our more recent unkind statements about Banana Nutrament, then you would be right. And if you think the analogy is entirely constructed from wack, then you’d also be right.

But it is definitely time to stop banging on about whether the cohorts of said blog exist and start going on about how we totally disagree with the odd choice of mp3. At least we will as soon as we have any room at all on our hard disk to copy said chunes to.

So, our apologies, Mig-Hell. We will assume the posts sincere whenever we mention them.


F'Shan And Other Meaningless Exclamations

Yes, it has been a while, although we note that we have been a more frequent poster than top liberal ranter Digby, as well as a host of other blog celebrities, which you can peruse on our newly-installed blogroll, below and right.

We were in Motor City, and on this occasion were right in the middle of downtown, where there was, on Saturday, this large formless video games festival. We've no idea what it was, and were zooming over to the Windsor Tunnel, so we didn't really catch musch of the atmosphere. The quite awesome Detroitblog certainly didn't see it as worth remarking upon [UPDATE: Oh hang on, he did]. Probably too busy watching the city's remarkable architectural heritage crumble around his ears.

John, the author, is probably too polite to say it, but Detroit's problem is a massive hemorrhage of yuppies. The very smart kinds from in and around Detroit go off to New York or LA, whilee the second string kind of lope off to Chicago. Royal Oak and Ferndale are fun, but lack the infrastructure that the midwestern climber requires. But if the rather twee, and certainly not particularly imposing Gaslight district in San Diego can be reinvented as a must-see playground for the recently graduated then Detroit could be much better.

Nothing illustrates this insanity better than the existence of Windsor, Ontario (at the bottom of the picture). Windsor is a lovely place, the kebabs kick ass, the cops are genial, and the bars seem very fun (we were around at 3pm, so really just peered in). Some advantages will always be unavailable to downtown Detroit - a sane drinking age, steady supply of strippers, established casinos. But it just shouldn't be such a popular night out of choice for residents of a city with a cultural heritage among the best in America. Our theory - any city where there is no way of barhopping on foot is going to lose out to the trashiest competition.

The border guards at the end of the tunnel, however, were the best we had ever encountered, maybe not as jovial as the guys in Buffalo, but much more professional. Having dealt with so many rude guys at the NYC airports we were very pleasantly surprised. Cutesome, who normally gets waved through with a quick welcome home, and for whom this was a first look at what foreigners see, was also very taken by the example of her tax dollars at work. We have heard rumours of a charm offensive at work at the USCIS, but this is the first evidence we had seen of it.

Back in New York, we have to prop three restaurants - Casa Mono, a Battali-pimped tapas joint close to work that sells frogs legs, Public, which was set in loadig bay, is a collaboration between a chef and a London-based design firm, and sold kangaroo, but still didn't piss us off, and Al Di La, which is what all Slopers know is the guv'nor.

We did go and see Kill Henry Sugar on Thursday night, and it was good. We've been popping by to see them in various east village hellholes for a few years now, and they're usually good enough to recognise us, although our associate did somewhat blow our cool by screaming "Play Trumpet! Go on, for the Brits!" at the end of the set. They were good enough to play it. Still, we're sure it is a surreal experience for the boys, who have three home-pimped but modestly-selling albums behind them, to be facing such calls for The Old Hits.

We could go into more details, but may need to rehash the experience for Sugarzine, which finally got round to putting up the Dirtbombs thing we did. Not that it should have seen the light of day - it's not very coherent, and we were drunk as a lord. But yet again we're billed behind reviews of more famous bands. Which is not very underground at all. In fact it's much less underground than the contents of Trent Reznor's head (scroll down), or indeed Miguel's.

While we're on the subject of Miguel's "group" blog, why does the Mancunian "Deirdre" use US spellings and post pictures from gigs held in downtown New York, and why does Mig-Hell not give Indeie his ticket? We're huge fans of anonymity, but multiple Gibson-esque hipster avatars? That's not pomo, it's colonic.

Expect more light posting (we're an hour late to start work) over the next week, as well as a possible vacation hiatus the week after. Bear with us. Your (increased) visits have been much appreciated, although we're still mystified by heavy Israeli interest in an obscure piniped post from a year ago.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Center-Parting Of Certain Doom

So, this is a week where laid out for our delectation are Kill Henry Sugar, back trawling around the East Village with a Wednesday-night residence at B-3, and we are sorely tempted by Lightning Bolt at The Hook. But we are not likely to make either of these engagements, since our appointment at Motor City looms.

Buut we did make it to top showbiz Dolan-nest MSG, where Sarah McLachlan was playing. We'll confess we shuddered instinctively when we heard the news, since we approve of girls and guitars, but only in the plural, wearing ties, and snarling about severed genitals. This "McLachlan" of which they spoke, she seemed to be a somewhat anodyne prospect, although one colleague mentioned that she might be country.

Not so fast. She's sort of a bit more weedy and ethereal, a demented mix of Enya and Shania Twain, although the comparisons say more about our abysmal knowledge of the genre than any objective assessment of her style. Support came from a nondescript and rather derivative group called the Perishers, who take their name from a slightly twee comic strip that appeared in the UK's Daily Mail.

We'd love to give you a review. Really, we'd love to. We'd even try and give you one of those all context, no description, ones we fall back on when we're very drunk, as you will shortly see in Sugarzine. But, although we had a very reasonable amount of Heineken, and we were even watching the show for a few moments, we've forgotten everything. Nothing sank in. We found ourselves distracted by small talk from some of the city's finest legal minds, for which, we might, add, she's a fitting soundtrack.

For what it's worth, we heard that she spent a little time in the nineties almost being grunge, before describing an arc into the depths of teen-drama soundtrack hell, and bottoming out as mood music for stressed but none-too-discerning young professionals. A far more steep decline, then, than Natalie Merchant, whose occasional sidemen, in a neat, albeit contrived, piece of symetry, are Kill Henry Sugar. We have decided, during the course of this post, to go tonight. Whether there is any value in a review, however, we are rather sceptical.

Monday, May 23, 2005

This Unfair Burgh

Yes, Tim, we do remember the depredations of Mr. DeBurgh on our ears. In fact, for one unfortunate period during the early 90s we had to suffer twin assaults from both a sibling and a parent in the form of the twinkly-eyed songstrel.

(You may have to scroll down for the post in question, since Tim's blog lacks permalinks, and is thus to blogs today as Ceefax is to the internet)

You Have Been Run Over By A Future-Shaped Truck

The headline just HAD to sound like a Thomas Friedman book, or you wouldn't realise that we're about to excorate the squares for not being hip to the latest in meta-media criticism. This via Instapundit, which should twig you to the fact that we're more bored than we suggested this morning, or at least less good at getting our phone calls returned that we had thought.

Mr. Reynolds twigged us to this post by one Jeff Goldstein, by suggesting it was somehow related to the new South Park Republicans movement. The movement seems to be the right's attempt to reclaim straight-talking people with a sense of humour and a vaguely libertarian bent for their cause. We have no idea whether this has much currency outside of conservative circles (the liberal blogs haven' mentioned it), although we must note that this sort of republican, with a rather laissez-faire attitude, is be less suited to government than a frothing fundamentalist loon, who knows that government exists to order people around. Still, we wish them luck.

But we digress, since we wanted to highlight this line from a rather thoughtful post by Mr. Goldstein on the current firestorm of conservative criticism of the media :

"such constant villification of the mainstream media’s motives, even when their reporting of the facts is accurate, runs the risk of turning valid, needed, and justified critiques of liberal bias into cliches in their own right."

We'd suggest that the mainstream media has probably reached that tipping point already, and might have reached it earlier, if only it listened to more talk radio. The victim meme, we think, is about to change hands. If you want any proof, read Daniel Okrent's parting shot at the Times' critics. Okrent has become convinced by the attacks on the Times that it must be doing something right. And ya know, tin-eared and insensitive as the little chap might be, he might have a point. We'd ask the folks at the BBC, who have laboured under attacks from both of the UK's main political parties, for their thoughts, but they're all on strike right now.

Punch Buddy

We really, honestly, completely need to do our day job today. And yes, we have heard about this new disturbance in the blog force, thousands of hep voices kinda mumbling in unison. But it will have to keep. We just wanted to bring you this little gem of a correction from the Observer. Proof, as if any were needed, that the New York media world isn't the world, even to those living in other media worlds:

"Our profile of Arianna Huffington (Focus, last week) identified Arthur Schlesinger Jr as the publisher of the New York Times. He is the distinguished historian; Arthur O Sulzberger Jr is the publisher. Apologies.".

Or shall we paraphrase Michael Keaton's character Henry Hackett from top Ron Howard-helmed journalism melodrama The Paper, as remembered on this little review:

Oh yeah? Well guess f***in' what? I don't really f***in' care! You wanna know f***in' why? Because I don't live in the f***in' world, I live in New York City! So go f*** yourself!

For the ninetieth time, Gringcorp regrets being such a fundamentalist on the "asterisks for swearing" policy.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ask Why, Mini-Monkeyclown

So, we must bring you news of an earth-shattering rupture in the cultural force that took place this weekend. It kicked us in the face as we were sat on the sofa sipping our coffee. We had called up our Sitemeter stats because we do so love spying on strangers, and noticed that there were far too many links from dubious media outfits and not enough from the titans of corporate finance. Which is odd, because we're much better at discussing the movement of capital in and out of big-ticket boondoggles than attempting to decipher impenetrable hipster in-jokes.

We were perusing the movie listings that day, and noticed that the Enron documentary, The Smartest Guys In the Room had been playing in the city for a few weeks now. We could excuse our lateness by stressing that we had read the book of the film, which suffers only from giving the financial journalists a bit too much of a pass on their earlier love of Enron, and then over-stressing their role in its unravelling. Or we could try and pretend that Cutesome wanted to watch the House of Wax but that would be LIES.

The collapse of Enron is usually described as a tension between the dreams of visionaries and the more base instincts of the guys they hired to put them into place. Or more specifically, did Ken Lay know what was going on? These are delightful questions for prosecutors, but somewhat beside the point, since Enron was, at heart, a classic and cautionary tale of leverage.

We're not sure why the word leverage has gained such wide currency as a financial term - we write about it a lot, and much of the time it's really a way to say "borrowing lots of money", or avoiding saying "very in debt", neither of which are considered very nice ways to describe top companies. That said, few companies frown upon borrowing vast sums of money, and most of them get by just fine. Those companies, though, have good cashflow.

Enron, ultimately, was a rotten company that borrowed too much money. Some of the money it borrowed was legit, some was hidden from shareholders, but all of it was necessary because none of Enron's assets performed that well. We'd have liked to have seen more on those rotten assets (there was a fair amount in the book), and probably less on the national politics. There was a fascinating teaser that there's a link between Enron, Arnold, and the campaign to unseat Gray Davis. And the fact that Arnie has done squat to fix the state's electricity market is a fairly good sign that the devious plan worked - only that Enron isn't around to benefit from it.

We still think there's an epic book to be written about deregulation, the way how Enron, and its peers in several industries, exploited the (real) hope of smaller government budgets, lower taxes, and (less credibly) lower prices, to take over huge parts of what was once the public sphere. But this was really a gloriously voyeuristic stroll through a single company, with strippers and swearing a-go-go.

The fleeing of the Minutemen with now take place in Rock City, which makes no sense at all.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Lackawanna Kick In The Head

Sorry for the scant posts, we've been deep undercover. see the govmint doesn't want the truth to come out. This goes all the way to the top, right in Albany. Then there's the small matter of stamps. So we'll have to go somewhere more humid and splashy, and graced with the most seedy hotels money can buy. That's right, in a matter of weeks we're going to Superman's love nest

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Via Gawker, we confess, an outsider's view of black metal. Not nearly as informed as the mighty book Lords of Chaos, but droll nonetheless. We bring you the \/\/\extreme blackness/\/\/ of the black metal dialogues.

Pitch The Hitch

We still want to be Christopher Hitchens when we grow up, despite the mounting evidence of the last couple of years that he is the Anakin Skywalker of contrarians (topical analogy there, we think you'll agree). We certainly think that his isolation from the other clever people (most of whom are, naturally, left-leaning) has made him more fun, if not quite as influential

Moreover, it is pretty much a given that the hard left has all the best invective, which is why we don't love Hitch as much as we used to. In fact, it seems that George Galloway might have a gift for colourful insults that is the envy of the North Koreans. Here's what he had to say about Hitch at a confrontation recorded by the Guardian:

""You're a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway informed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead. "And you're a drink-soaked ..." Eventually Mr Hitchens gave up. "You're a real thug, aren't you?" he hissed, stalking away."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Auslander Hassle

You might have derived from some of our recent writings the impression that Nine Inch Nails can do no wrong. This isn't quite true, and we're not refering to the midsection of The Fragile here.

What piqued our interest was the news from the first day of NIN mainman Trent Reznor's court case against his former manager, John Malm, whom he naturally is alleging robbed the sensitive little artst blind. It's mostly been a series of exchanges along the lines of "Why on earth did you sign such a ridiculous deal, Mr. Reznor?""Er, I was really wasted." So far, so rocktacular.

And then wwe're going through the coverage in the penny dreadful's online edition, which isn't the password-protected beast we had expected, and saw this line:

Reznor said he delayed shutting down his money-losing Nothing Records because he agreed with Malm's advice that they had an opportunity to sell the label. He later pulled the plug.

Ah, Nothing Records, for which you can find a nice little potted history here. Nothing Records started out as a dodge to get NIN out of an earlier record deal, and then turned into a sort of drill n' bass vanity label. Only without the commercial success that Analis vomited all over Madonna's Maverick Records.

Not that it wasn't a worthy venture. The idea of Meat Beat Manifesto, Autechre and Squarepusher getting a US hearing is very noble, even if Nothing also brought the world Marilyn Manson and Pop Will Eat Itself. But lucrative it was not.

We thought that Trent, who has shifted 20 million albums, would be able to just point to his empty bank account and have the verdict in the bag. Now we're not so sure. Note to the defense: a couple of bars of PWEI's "Auslander" will probably serve as a rather effective answer to "where did all the money go?"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Galloway, hey, hey!

Ah, we were just the other day expressing our worries about the company that George Galloway keeps. But we, of all the contrarian sods littering the internet, should have known that the best way to define a man is by his enemies, and you don't get much more ennobled than by squaring off against the mind-bendingly unpleasant Senator Norm Coleman.

Coleman disgraces the memory of Paul Wellstone every time he draws breath, and exists solely to provide the Republican media with suitable misdirection material. Why the man is holding hearings on oil-for-food, a scandal that ended two years ago, and seems to have discredited everyone it touched, rather than on any number of continuing scandals in mystifying.

Good for Galloway, we have to say, for tearing Coleman a new one. We're still not sure we trust alll of Gorgeous George's record on Sadaam, and many of the other grand questions of the last fifty years, but he's with the angels here. From the Beeb:

"Now I know that standards have slipped over the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer, you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice," the MP declared.

Plenty more in the article, and the whole episode has dismissed any misgivings we might have had about the nutritional value of Georgie's flight into "the Lion's den". He treated the tired conclave of hacks that is Coleman's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations with the respect it derserved. Glorious. Now p*ss off and investigate something useful.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Reading blogs when drunk. Hmmm. Well, we can't get The Huuffmeister at work. Just as well, because this peculiar little man in a hat is claiming that it was the bloggers that took down Jayson Blair. Nice of Arianna's crew to start being nice to the medium they parody, and right now blog triumphalism is so bad it's good, according to Technorati. There's one small problem, random right-wing hat man. Blogs had absolutely nothing to do with stopping Jayson Blair from making sh*t up. Mr Shafer being a comprehensive source here.

Here endeth the drunk post. If you think this is bad, wait and see what we're writing about the Dirtbombs for the hipsticles. Hic.

Sithy Fits

We haven't seen the new Star Wars Filum yet, what with us being a member of the public, and all that. But we're going to love it, same as we loved the last two. We get very confused by Thirtysomething hacks trying to convince us that the original three (or at least first two) were these mythical bits of filmmaking whose legacy is trampled upon by the special FX and muppets of the latest two.

Or, to put it more honestly. They have had to restroactively reclassify the kids' films they love as classics to justify their present-day fetishization. The only case we ever hear for the theory seems to rest on the fact that the first Star Wars was made in the same decade as taxi Driver, and there were quite a few namechecks for Lucas in the Biskind book. Such monkeyclowns often namecheck venerable Japanese directors to prove the point, and Lucas encourages them in this.

Bully for the Times, then, for saying, and we paraphrase somewhat loosely here "it's an absolutely awesome KIDS film, better than that Thornberry crap any day. Plus it looks awesome, and doesn't have a happy ending." Actually, we're paraphrasing maybe too loosely here, since Mr. Scott seems to be saying it's a great film in its own right, but does chart quite a convincing middle course between bitching about the stupid baddie characters and bleating about what Peter Bogdanovich would make of it. What he is definitely saying is that the spaceships, fights, explosions and evilness are all present and correct.

So we're going. As ultra-rare unsuccessful bounty hunter Dengar. We like to see Dengar as the Hellacopters to Bob Fett's The Hives - not as stylish, and not as fast, but much more evil.

Tiny respeck due to the Times, none whatsover to this chappie from Vice writing in the Brooklyn Rail. iPod face-offs? The Shins? The L Train? Too horrendous to contemplate. We mention it not to implore you to read it, just to spare us the torment of a forwarded link from Mig-Hell.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Grand Dizier

There are few ways for the recently affianced to have a relevant and enriching stroll around Brooklyn, especially when the Sunday in question houses the Fifth Avenue Fair. It's probably fairer to call it the Fifth Avenue Fairs, with one for the gentrified slopers, the dads with ironic t-shirtage, and the curious purchasers of Thai street gristle, which lasts from Sterling to Third Street, and the other, Third to 16th, section, which had the silly string, counterfeit sheets and kebabs enlivening the sidewalk.

It was when emerging from the more earnest end of the fair that we stumbled upon the Grand Prospect Hall. Actually, stumbled upon is a tad disingenuous a way to put it, since we've been trying to check the Hall out for a while, but wanted to find the right opportunity. Once we had heard that the Hall was designed by the same chap as the Audubon Boathouse in Prospect Park, we had to take a gander.

So we are clad for an amble around the Slope in rather muggy weather, with Cutesome being somewhat more elegantly robed. But we shuffle up to the front entrance nonetheless, to be confronted by the most enormous shiny-faced yet healthy-looking Eastern European we have seen in a while. The humble drive kicked in, and we were inches away from fleeing, when we were waved inside, to be greeted by what we suppose was the owner, Michael Halkias, who briefly showed us around the first flooor.

The man's pretty up on his hiphop culture, saying that Eve and Foxy Brown were among the people that had used the Hall as a location. We just stared at him blankly, good little crackers that we are. But the Oak Room will be a servicable replacement now that the Plaza's Oak Room no longer exists, and the whole place has a faintly seedy, yet not unpleasant, air.

There was an old speakeasy bar, and a bunch of strangely hued baroque gildings, and plenty of flunkies. We're still not sure whether Mr. Halkias was a genuinely nice guy and talks to everyone (the voluminous press cuttings suggest so), or whether he scented that we were thinking of Event Planning, and Entertainment, and Ballroom Dancing, and Laughing Children. Whatever the reason, we will be back to rock the bar very soon. Just probably not on a nuptial tip.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Burberry Raiders

Excellent new word for the day: Chavalanche.

Apologies - day job/party planning beckons.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Like Ringing A Bell

We're scanning the second section of the FT this morning, when a weird dissonance catches our eye. There seems to be some kind of metal/high finance mash-up going on. Hang on, it's Jimmy Page rockin' the IPO of Warner Music Group at the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange!

We'll link, rather arbitrarily, to the Lincoln Journal Star Online for the details, but you could also read the press release of the shameful deed. What is interesting, is that Jimmy, bless 'im, was not the first choice for the deed at all, but stepped up after Linkin Park turned down the gig.

We suspect the culturally malformed workers down on Wall Street probably got the best of it. Jimmy apparently played Whole Lotta Love, which was exactly what investors didn't show to the offering, har, har. Linkin Park, of course, are now engaged in legal war with Warners over artistic freedom and flipping great wodges of cash, and all that jazz, as the Times' silly billy outlines. This is all very confusing, since at least one of Linkin Park originally wanted to become a lawyer and Jimmy invented metal.

Now Jimmy has a fair deal of experience as a Fink For The Man, as a sixties session musician. In fact, he single-handedly kept the UK's Freakbeat/R&B scene from sounding inept, as you can hear on Freakbeat Freakout. But Jimmy, like a couple of the other Zepplings, was a session musician begging to be adored in his own right. No more hackery, right? That is, until he needed a hand flogging the Zep back catalogue. Funny, we though he'd already sold his soul to the devil, fnar, fnar.

While we were tootling around Jimmy's site searching in vain for an explanation for this corporate tomfoolery, we stumbled on a nother droll picture of his, which we feel duty-bound to steal and share:

We doubt that Chuck Berry ever thought that his lyrics could be used this way.

Steinway On The Highway

So, NY1 has scored quite a coup with a new advertising deal with Steinway Street. Steinway Street, the main thoroughfare in Astoria (the claims of Broadway be damned) is mostly a demented mixture of slightly shabby furniture stores, 99c joints and kebab houses that used to let you smoke a shisha whie you were waiting for your donkey to heat up. But for about a block south of 30th Avenue it gets really classy, with a GAP and a Victoria's Secret, as well as Dr. Jay's, where we bought our first, and only, pair of outrageously baggy jeans.

Steinway Street's merchant's association, or BID, or group of concerned citizens, has decided to write their own song extolling the virtues of the fair street. And it's an awesome street, the first one we ever walked upon after getting off the boat. The song? Pretty awful, but then that's never stopped the Mattress crew from hauling people off the street to mangle their jingle. But the Steinway Street singer is catastrophically bad, as if thhey've been told to be soulful, but hasn't been told that their range is about half what they're attempting. A genuinely unpleasant experience, and we're grindcore fans, kids.

If you have access to a media TV or Tivo or somesuch, and capture it, we'd love to have it. The psyops potential is enormous.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dry The Backs Already

We touched a few days back on the weird effects of reality when confronted with a flawed conventional wisdoom. It was in the comments section of Memefirst, and it was about how an impressive Tory performance in the recent UK election is ony best understood as a slap in Tony Blair's face if you don't believe that anyone likes the Tories anymore. Which might be a comforting assumption, but certainly isn't true. So a perfectly competent progressive prime minister becomes abosolute anathema to a bunch of middle class trolls living in the home counties. Hmmmm..

The second instance is a little closer to our current home, andd it's the current kerfuffle over the granting of licenses to illegal immigrants, outlined here in Newsday. The conventional wisdom seems to be thatt you can walk into a DMV with a little piece of paper saying "I Ees From Er Meeeerkha" and they'll fork over a licence right away.

Now, we've no idea what the situation is like for obtaining licenses elsewhere. California, according to Fox News, was a pushover. And we're assuming that states with lower immigrant populations make it a tad harder. And that New York is likely to be one of the more generous states, even though no-one in the City, where all the immigrants are, owns a car.

But we are likely to have much more experience of the situation than 99% of the people writing about or legislating about driver's licenses for immigrants, since we're a non-resident alien that has tried to get one. And guess what? It is a complete pain in the neck. Same goes for getting a Social Security number, something which free-born Americans get assigned at birth and the rest buy or steal.

It used to be that you'd go down to the DMV with a passport and three other foorms of identification and you'd be fine. In fact you'd be fine as long as all the stamps in your passport were correct, and they didn't feel like telling you to go to Canada to get it sorted.

Now, we're told you won't even be eligible for ID unless you are credentialled by the Foreign Press Center, which is presumably the lean and efficient body that its website suggests. The FPC, we're told, will credential you if you you provide voluminous evidence that your publication and employer exists.

In fact, we lost our halcyon-era ID a while back, and have been terrified of the process of getting it replaced ever since. So we take our passport on aeroplanes, and use our UK license at bars, and everyone seems happy. Except for the clowns at the ESPN Zone, that is, but then if you're trying to gain admittance to ESPN Zone without an extremely good reason then you should probably be deported anyway.

The sensible thing would be to tell the Morlocks that staff DMVs to be more careful about forged documents (without, we must stress being any ruder to aspirants than they already are). But alien-licenses has gained the status of a no-brainer pander to anti-immigration sentiment among people that have never been through the process.

You'd imagine that various parts of the immigration and licensing bureacracy would be capable of pointing this out. But we dare say they're too busy picking fleas off their buddies' backs.

In other news, the UN is considering moving to Brooklyn, or Metro-Tech, to be precise. The drawbacks to this scheme are two: it would conceivably enrich one Bruce Ratner, and it gives the dolt Markowitz a chance to open up hs idotic piehole. In fact the Times taunted us by suggesting that this might not be the case:

Marty Markowitz, the indefatigably enthusiastic Brooklyn borough president, was so beside himself he could barely speak straight.

Oh sweet Lord, can it be so? Probably not, since the Bore of Borough Hall is about to get a whole bunch of press out of this. And indeed:

"I don't want to use that word, 'fuhgeddaboutit,' " Mr. Markowitz said. "Just like every Manhattanite who comes across the bridge, they'll know they're in the promised land."

I suppose we should be grateful that he didnt start drooling something along the lines of: "Eh, we're so great and diverse we've already got the united Nations here!" Still, the awful little man may yet feel compelled to spout it in public, so consider yourselves warned.

Well, whatever, diplo-trash. Enjoy the Burg, enjoy the cheesecake, run away from Marty.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

You Once Headed The Oxford Union. That Means That Your Name Will Always Be Mud Here

Sorry about that, just exorcising our college demons there. It is true, though that Arianna, who insists on keeping the name of her former, now gay, husband, was once president of the gang of manipulative windbags that is the Oxford Union. and that disqualifies her, in our view, from any place in polite society whatsoever. The only person who EVER rocked the Union was Gold Blade's John Robb, with an inspired anti-Beatles rant.

We digress only mildly from the main point of our post, which is that we're sodded if we can load her new group blog. Which means either that the whole thing is some ginormous joke whose punchline we have been unable to google, or computer science has dished up a suitable rebalancing of Arianna's karma for all that youthful hackery. The Google cache is not much use, either.

[UPDATE: We just read it from our home computer. A blog by people that don't read blogs, yet all sounnds strangely familiar? That's the Blues, of the Huff explosion]

Freddy's Return

We were rifling through our inbox last night, and settled on a missive from Develop Don't Destroy, which congratulated mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer for his criticism the process of developing the Brooklyn Nets arena. The short story in the Daily News, though, makes it look as if his opposition is not as total as it is to the West Side stadium.

"Ferrer said he has major reservations about the secrecy surrounding the planned Nets arena."

It's heartening, as DDDB notes, for there to be at least one mayoral candidate to express opposition, and given the reach that the stadium's developer, Forest City Ratner, has into city politics, it's even slightly brave. Certainly it's not something that the other hopefuls think it's worth coming to a decision on.

But we think that their guarded welcome is about right:


We would have been a tad more wary, since we think that we're now at a point where Ferrer needs the anti-stadium crew more than they need Ferrer. We've got to ask, as Steve Gilliard has, why Ferrer has decided to come out with it now, aside from the fact he picked up six Brooklyn pol endorsements.

Gilliarrd's theory, and one we find it hard to fault, is that this is further evidence of Ferrer's fixating on pleasing white people. He's picked advisers certain to focus on this, but after the Diallo mess white people are his last worry. We happen to get very exercised about the stadium, but would quite understand if for vast tracts of New York this is not a key issue. Looks like another pander to us.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Kilo Bright

We seem to be approaching the 1000 mark for visits since we had Sitemeter installed. That goes back, we suppose, till January, and averages out at about 13 a day. Assuming that the Shadow of Gringcorp falls once a day, then you are therefore the Gumby Dozen, a hardly onerous position that involves absolutely no filleting of the Hun whatsoever.

Last night we caught Bill Maher's show yet again, after we got back from Houston. We thouught it might be a repeat, because there was Andrew Sullivan propping up the edge of the table, along with Michael McKean and Kim Thingy who used to run Canada. Sully was on awesome form, at times angry andd defiant, much more anti-Bush than before, but passionately defending the religious against those who would tar them with the same brush as their leaders. It was raather moving, even for this atheist, and Maher barely knew what to do next. Good for Sully.

Up next for your rock pig, a soiree at the Doubles Club. If you're good, we reach 1000, and cutesome permits, maybe we shall post an impression.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Bell Book And Mandal

You see that headline? It means nothing. We're surprisingly undrunk after our stint at Houston's only trendy restaurant. But we're still pleased as punch. Blair realises that he needs to behave, Howard that he can hang around a while, and Kennedy that he should drink less than Gringcorp.

But, and this is all as of checking in on the BBC, nowhere near enough has changed. And this is a largely awesome development, since it leaves us free to invest spurious emotional energy in the US midterms.

Quick note here - we don't like the fact that Galloway got in. We think it's almost as cynical a victory as anything the Republicans achieved. Socialists and Islamists on the same team? Go for it, just don't pretend it makes sense.

Sweet dreams, limeyblog-groupies.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Live Blog Idiocy

Hmmm, so here we are in sunny Houston, stuck in a somewhat tatty hotel room. Do we want to go out to the apparently mighty Sambuca? Or do we stay here in the hotel room with the election streaming on C-SPAN?

Does not compute. Not with David Blunkett bloviating in our face. Nyuh-huh. Oy vey - expect drunk posting later on, we're afraid, Markos.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Woody Allen Must Die

...Or at least the vision of Brooklyn he put foward in Annie Hall. We were looking for someone apart from Marty Markowitz who still held to the weird 1950's vision of Brooklyn, and then along came the Chicago Tribune's Alan Solomon. Where on earth must he have picked up this preposterously outdated vision of our fair Burg? Aaaah...

"'The Dodgers were following a trend,' says Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, who at 61 is old enough to remember. 'It was very sad. But that was then.'"

A Combined Cycle Power Plant Grows in Brooklyn

The development justs keeps on running, this time over the misshapen heads of our hipster cousins in Williamsburg. Yep, the rezoning of the slightly difficult to reach northern corner of our fair borough is to be tturned into Battery Park City. Hooray! For rotund real estate developers! Yes, it was rather difficult to feel sympathetic for some of the amusingly-dressed crew on the steps of City Hall, but they have some valid arguments against the deal, mostly of the "that's a disgustingly ugly development you've got there, isn't it?" variety.

For those of you with a password, here's the New York Times on it, as well as NY Sun, if you're some kind of sick grumpy Republican that got confused at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel back to your homeland.

But, much more revealing, in the News, was this little gambit from Adam Perlmutter, lawyer for Chris Klein, who owns the The Park Tower Group, which fancies a gobble of the whole rancid waterfront:

""There's a huge risk" that the proposed TransGas power plant project on Kent Ave. and N. 12th St. will go forward should Council members reject the rezoning plan for the waterfront neighborhoods."

Cunning. Let us turn your neighborhood into some monstrous hybrid of Battery Park City and Metro Tech, or chance your kids sucking up carbon dioxide for the rest of their childhood. Real classy. Or , alternately, whimpers our still small voice of snark, you could just put up some somme buildings that someone would like to live around.

We've yet to meet anyone thrilled to be a resident of BPC, or even a canyon dweller around Wall Street. Yet still the developers throw them up, and still the city government swears blind that throwing them up is the only feasible plan for such sites, the only way to make up the costs of reclamation. The fact that the most sickeningly expensive areas of Manhattan are the areas dominated by townhouses doesn't register.

This, we're sure, is going to sound a tad hypocritical from someone who loves New York more than any pig, and even loves the skyline, and would be more than happy to work and shop in such an environment. But skyscrapers, up close, are nasty brutish bits of scuzz whose best purpose is as containers for cubicles. We didn't have much to report from Martin County, Florida, but limiting buildings to four stories has more than compensated for the ugliness of the buildings that some natives are keen to put up.

Here's our recommendation. For every floor you block the hipsters view with, you must throw one up in the neighborhoods that actually need developments. most of the stretch of Atlantic Avenue and vast tracts of Eastern Brooklyn, for starters. Same for you, Ratner. Piggybacking the efforts of people who make a considered effort to build up their Burgs is out.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Treading Water

Scrappy, ill-formed, and about as erudite as Fox News. You were quite clearly warned of this on Saturday. Still, it is incumbent upon us to send a small tidbit your way, our latest contribution to Sugarzine, whose writing gigs seem to be like the mafia or skag, only less entertaining or romantic. It's a bug-eyed review of NIN's latest, for which we will probably camp outside of the Union Square Virgin so as to be an early adopter.

The article is also notable for having a byline passably close to our real identity, yet still maintaining the plausible deniability that is every job-seeker's prerequisite. Anyway, it can't hurt to put ourselves in front of the 'Zine's 350,000 claimed readers. Despite the fact that few of them feel the need to trouble the servers of Technorati, or indeed Google with their opinions of it, aside from the odd rapturous shopkeeper or D-list indie shop.

Still, we're just bitter, basking in a much smaller number of unique readers, most of whom are drawn to all kinds of weird material. You see, someone in San Dimas is looking for, er, tooled-up ladies, and thought we could help, whereas in fact we are powerless.

We're also completely unable to provide any information whatsoever about this Gumby character, or whatever slash fiction you want to see his rubbery form rubbing all over. We didn't grow up on him. No idea. How did we get the name for the blog? That would be telling, but it has, like so much of our cultural make-up, roots in failed music journalism of the 1990s we have known and loved. Sellah.