Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Kewl Kidz Klub

So, we've been known to post the odd mp3 from an album that can be bought at Amazon, and we've also been known now and then to try and link said post to what's going on right now. We're not the only ones. We've also been curious about the etiquette behind posting mp3s to one's blog. Not sure whether it's already settled, or whether there's an understanding that if you need to ask, you shouldn't be doing it.

In any case, and our apologies to the author, whose work, and taste, we greatly admire, but we were a tad taken aback by this post. Making a distinction between "good" and "bad" mp3 blogs is a worthwhile endeavour, but to define it as entirely an exercise in obscurity seems to make the whole mp3 blogging business rather elitist, and seems to define rather narrowly the purpose of music.

It drew us back to a point of Julie Burchill's, (you can read it, here, or at least this is the most obvious example we can find, although she probably made it more than once), which was that women use music more as an emotional crutch than men, who usually find that music speaks to their inner collector. We don't completely agree with her distinction between the sexes, but we would agree that there's a case to be made that music is much too precious a resource to leave to dry fetishisation.

Just as there's music to jump up and down to, music to drive to, music to take drugs to, music to take drugs to make music to take drugs to, music to collapse weeping into the bed after you been chucked to, music to fall asleep to, and so on, there are blogs that could fulfil any number of obscure, divinely-ordained purposes. To restrict the practice to those with the rarest closet contents would seeem to risk turning it into some nightmare version of Heathers, and is, to be blunt, not very punk.

We know that to keep mp3 blogging a rarified pursuit is the sensible way to avoid unwelcome attention from the RIAA, although the evidence that labels want to exploit the process is pretty plentiful. That said, and channelling Pump Up The Volume, having a multitude of voices covering many angles in as many ways as possible would be a much healthier result. There's a DJ in all of us.

Which brings us to today's Desert Island AAC. We were working at this unwieldy college/commercial radio hybrid many years ago, and were, like thousand of disgusting hipster fetuses before us, subject to flattering attention from radio pluggers. We were deluged (apologies for the choice of word) with produce from a band called the Kings of Infinite Space.

They were signed to V2, Richard Branson's second stab at polluting the music business, and seemed almost perversely attracted to rock cliches, both sonically and aesthetically. Of course, we played their singles, naff as you like, relentlessly, but they still disappeared after one album, called Queenie. You can now find it at British indie record stores reasonably easily, although it, is, yes, out of print.

But the lyrics, silly as they are, make the whole exercise worthwhile. It's a ridiulous, but still sleazy, rush. And if the band wants to get in touch, then please do, and we'll have fries with that.

The Kings Of Infinite Space - "Cool"
Buy the single, or the whole album, here

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bad Subs! Bad!

List of banned headlines:

When the levee breaks.
Katrina and the waves

In fact, we might go so far as to cast doubt on the intelligence of the subeditors of any publication that appears on this search, or this one, although the latter is early hours.

Just a friendly warning, like

More Directionless Glibness

Having bashed Tha Pundsta once already this week, we now offer an homage.

"My latest Tech Central Sugarzine column is up today."

If you are a Bob Mould expert, then you'll probably be disgusted, but you know where to flame.

Fletch Goes Down

All the crazy sh*t is coming out of the south right now, and we're not talking about David Banner. Our sympathies to the people of the south and, particularly, New Orleans, where we have spent several lost weekends, The sight of the palm trees on Canal Street being blown over reminded us that these were the first American palm trees we ever saw. Sorry, sounds stupid, but we remember details like that. We're especially cross that we never ventured that far from the main Bourbon Street drag - hopefuly the city can pick itself up again.

The other, more amusing, bombshell, comes from Kentucky, where the governor took advantage of the chaos to the south to extricate himself from a hiring scandal in the most brazen way possible. Ernie Fletcher essentially issued a pre-emptive pardon to whoever might get caught up in it, and thus might squeal on him, and then decided to plead the fifth. Like Earl Long in the Paul Newman filum only somehow less classy.

You may procure more information on the whole sordid chapter here, although me must say that we're disappointed that there's nothing on the affair in the latest broadside from Tim. Now, Mr. Brown has been perfectly unpleasant to Mr. Fletcher and the GOP in the past - indeed his liberal use of the word goatf***er in this context is one reason we have not provided a permanent link to his site. So we must assume that the pressures of travel and press prevented him from following this episode more closely.

Still, been a while since we posted any multimedia here, so we shall regale you with this from Mississippi's own David Banner. We don't know how we came into this record, but think that it might have been hurled at our head one night in Freddy's. We have heard that Mr. Banner has repudiated his earlier work, and we can understand why. The production is a tad tinny, and doesn't fit that well with Banner's rather gruff delivery. But the title has it, and so the AAC appears below:

David Banner - "Mississippi"
Buy it here, even though neither the reviewers, nor Mr. Banner, have much time for it

[UPDATE: Huge amouts of flooding in NOLA right now, but if you think we're tasteless enough to post a certain Led Zeppelin song you'd be wrong. Same goes for a certain Arlo Guthrie song, for now).]

Monday, August 29, 2005

Single Slayer

We should really start the week with happy tales of records scored and the happy times we've been having with widgets. But it can wait. First, some silliness from Instapundit. We had a very polite comment from him once, about the time we were spouting off incoherently about Lebanon, and we vowed never to have a go at him again.

But here goes. Dear Glenn, the US health system is abjectly screwed. This is coming from a young professional with very reasonable health benefits. The system is insane, and nasty unwieldy hodge-podge of private and public systems that serves largely to isolate health insurers from responsibility for high premiums and inflates the price of medical treatments. We've experienced the "Heh"-tastic UK dental system as well as the US system, and it's faster, cheaper, and more efficient. In probably only two areas - outfitting anchormen and repairing Hilary Duff - is it superior.

And the less said about the health system comparisons the better. One can usually see a doctor over a minor problem (the sort that escalates if left untreated) very quickly. In the US, the alternative is the emergency room. Prescription costs are far in excess of those anywhere else, and the bewildering array of service providers (an entire (for instance, shadow system of testing centers that exists, as far as we can tell, simply to provide employment for rude receptionists) jacks up the costs, and eliminates, the convencience of healthcare.

So, here's the worrying thing. There probably aren't enough incentives to keeping the costs of the system down in the UK (copays, in particular), and the system still has pockets of inefficiency. But iif you're wretchedly poor, and increasingly if you're middle class, the UK system wins out every time. And it shouldn't.

The Gladwell article that the 'pundit references says, as any proper New York liberal publication should, that forcing the sick to shoulder more of the costs of health care is immoral. It doesn't say, since even the most liberal New York publication could not, that a wee bit of redistribution is necessary. But it probably is. And Gladwell explains why. It's now become revoltingly expensive for employers to cover these costs, and they do not want to keep doing this forever.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Card-Carrying Numpty

We managed to dodge house guest obligations and stroll down to the South Street Seaport for a free Ted show. Damn pleased we did, because Ted and his gangly crew were on really good form. He had a good set length, debuted a song, didn't play Ballad Of The Sin Eater, which was getting rather smug, and generally entertained the tourists and Wall Streeters. No one, to the best of our knowledge rocked out quite as hard as the tipsy management consultant at the scenester gig three weeks back, but he got pretty good reviews from our crew. One of whom was four. Nice.

The support act, Tigers and Monkeys started off well, a nice bunch of jaunty boucy Elastica clones (yep, Wire is totally coming back round). but they started to drag, and only copious quantities of Sam Adams Summer Ale could pacify us.

Anyhoo, we could have posted a super rare Ted song, but all of the good candidates are either all over the place ("Since You Been Gone" - which he did not play), or part of a celebrity mp3 blog-hoard, which we could not in good conscience pre-empt.

Instead, we'll just put up these indie trading cards that they were handing out. The idea baffles us - is a good part of indie music promotion the idea that bands are fungible, tangible and collectable? It would seem to reduce somewhat the specialness that a decent act tries to project. Presumably some venture capitalist gave Insound so much money they gave it to an awesomely trite ad agency. Fair play, but could they just maybe hire some bands like Amex did?

Here are the cards, in any case. Now wash your hands.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Go Team U.S.S.A.

It would be wrong to go through yet another Friday without putting anything up, even if Casa Gringcorp has been overrun with lodgers. That, and the usual round of eating and drinking.

In lieu of anything in the papers enraging us (it hasn't) or the telly amusing us (we have been three whole days without the telly's merciful caress. Help us!), we'll drivel on about power-pop bands. These chaps are known as the Interpreters - and we shall tell you our story. We'll give you the Amazon link because we're too lazy to refine our google search.

They were three young scamps that f***in' loved the Kinks and playing punky songs, and they wanted to be so famous that they then committed a bunch of elementary rock mistakes. the sort of ones that Steve Albini warned about repeatedly. Signed to a major label after passing an album around a squad of indies, and persuading Ron A Schaffer to produce them an album in London, they suddenly, massively, went to seed.

We first chanced upon them in the Mercury Lounge, or possibly Brownies, fronted by Herschel Gaer, this completely and utterly ice-man rock aristocrat. We didn't know until later that this version of the Interpreters only contained Herschel from the previous line-up. After a while Herschel re-emerged as Tourist, and we even started nodding our head at him in sundry LES dives. But we have no idea what happened to him afterwards.

And we had no idea what caused the demise of the Interpreters, apart from an obviously messy album birth. Well it turned out that the band, being originally from Philly, had been offered a slot playing the Republican National Convention in 2000, and agreed. We dare say Herschel's gone back to making films, and we hope he's happy. Or if, as this chap claims, he's been playing with Fischerspooner, he's suitably chastened.

The Interpreters - "Where Do We Go When"
Buy "Back In The U.S.S.A." here reeeellly cheap

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Boozy Hat Syndrome

We honestly weren't going to post yet again today. But we've got visitors, and we've run out of clear liquor (single malt in August? Hmmmm...). So we'll post a song from our not entirely hip friends in Cracker. Possibly the weirdest moment we ever had when being given a tour of a former, ah, acquaintance's record collection was when they very proudly played us Camper Van Beethoven's cover of Pictures of Matchstick Men by the mighty Quo. We burst out laughing. Ooops. Looking back, we were probably a bit too narrow-minded.

Ah f*** it, let's have a drink. Just no f***ing folk songs.

Cracker - "Teen Angst"
Oh crap, it's not even the ultra-rare B-side of the Low EP, as we assumed, it's the first song on their second album. F*** it, buy the album here anyway.

More Pseudo-Liberal Snark

So, unionisation is a Good Thing, and public employees are Good People until you actually have to deal with them. We always wondered what the subway token booth operators got in return for having to get off their capacious behinds and mingle with members of the general public. In return or giving up their nap time they got the opportunity to hover neaar the exits blabbering on cellphones. It would have been better to have procured a picture of this malarkey to entertain you, but trust us. 16th Street and Union Square West. Every time.

New York Ruffneck Windmill Crew

Top quixotic campaign of the day - Leslie Crocker Snyder, who has decided to take on top octogenerian prosecutorial titan Robert Morgenthau to become Manhattan DA. Now, to be honest, from here in Brooklyn we've got our own amazingly silly DA to deal with so pardon us if we don't weep for your stubborn old white collar crime fighter.

In any case, Snyder has a pretty good resume as a judge and a prosecutor, and some AMAZINGLY CHEAP CAMPAIGN ADVERTS. Cutesome seemed almost affronted by their rather ratty flavour - going through their head "we wouldn't have to put up with this nonsense on NBC4". Snyder engages in one gigantic non-sequitur - "they change prosecutors in that TV show Law & Order, why not in real life?" Now of course it may be that L&O is considered very unrealistic in the rest of the DA world for keeping its prosecutors on for so long. More likely Snyder is being fatuous.

The advert was so silly as to attract the attention of Pat, this morning back from vacation and apparentlly refreshed. Yes, the poor chap did wade in to the ice-cream or Tasti D-Lite debate in gloriously tasteless fashion, but he is still number one Canuck News Oompa Loompa in the city. Related news - Molly Kroon is obviously being groomed for great things, but does not yet have a spot on NY1's staff page. Oh well, we named our last ship in Escape Velocity after her. CNN in six months we say.

Giff has a new ad out, so new it's not on his website yet. Better than the last one, it shows Giff personally and energetically rearranging a classroom, and then standing back for the applause of NO MORE than 17 children. Apparently Mike could do something about this, thus avoiding the tepid stares of much more than 17 children, but he's too busy throwing wads of fifties at Leona Helmsley (glad you escaped the crash, BTW, Leona).

Finally, and proof that we need to stop watching this silly local cable news channel all day, we caught the public advocate debate briefly last night. Our views on the hack Gotbaum are reasonably well-known but she surprised even us with her uselessness. Betsy seems to consider her job as a cross between 311 and the Fox Five Problem solvers, both of which are extant, the latter much to our chagrin.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Teach No Evil

So, speaking as an atheist foreigner, the debate over "Intelligent" Design is more amusing than threatening. At the moment, the possibility of a further brain drain from fundamentalist states to the more enlightened parts of the US fills us with joy.

And we were never the keen scientist either, confining ourselves to a lone, and undistinguished, higher in Physics beyond the age of 13. But one thing is confusing us about this whole debate, and it goes back to our (possibly ill-remembered) time doing science those years back. We spent a fair old amount of time in science class learning theories, but as much, if not more, time doing experiments or fieldwork to put them into action.

So go ahead, teach the theory, teach the controversy, and then go to your little charges and say "observe it". If one of the little tykes swears that he saw a big white chap in a beard fooling around with his samples you might be in trouble (more likely the man in the beard), but since ID relies on the absence of evidence to bolster its case, proof is going to be hard to find.

Are we being a tad unfair, or is science at root about the observation and understanding of natural phenomena? Any half decent course will spend a fair amount of time drumming that essential message home. Only a curriculum entirely dependent on rote learning would be threatened by the ID canon, non?

Suitcase Daddy

Insult of the day: Suitcase Pimp. As in: "Marty Markowitz is Bruce Ratner's suitcase pimp. He pleasures himself while his partner does all of these disgusting things."

The A*s-Man Cometh

Today's constitutional in Prospect Park was mostly ruined by Gifford Miller's signs at Grand Army Plaza. But Eric Blackwell, running for city council, came pretty close, and since we've already taken a harrowing look into Giff's adolescent mind, we will take a brief look at the contents of Eric's head. Short on stadium rhetoric, but seems committed to making downtown Brooklyn less crappy. We approve, and if you think that's crappy political analysis, then ask yourself, what the hell would a disenfranchised omniscient pansexual being akin to a gas know about your humon political process?

Still, why is a chap who is looking to represent Downtown pimping for votes up in Park Slope? It could be because, like Sandy Hook before it, the Times has decided it's the trendiest place to campaign. You can see the article (for the time being, and with registration, or using Bugmenot) here. Its central point is that since Brownstone Brooklyn (epicentre one P. Slope) is so full of rich, well-meaning, civic-minded people, it's a key battleground for aspiring city-wide candidates.

The article is probably true, and if it is, we think that the stadium opponents should be spending more time deep in the slope than they have so far. It is, we must concede, important that representatives that will be directly affected by the project be involved, and that there are the proper representations to city hall, the courts, etc. But it's really important that more of the mayoral candidates know that more of this demographic is upset at the stadium. If the slope can't be made upset at the project (and we appreciate that the opponents have made efforts) then it will be hard to stop. We just need to haul the little buggers out of their accursed record shops first.

On a related matter, can we note that the candidates for public advocate are much more exciting than those for mayor? Rasiej - very cool. Norman Siegel - very cool. Betsy Gotbaum - the incumbentclown. A much more interesting line-up than the stooges currently competing to be beaten senseless by Mikey. Yesyesyes, the astoundingly orange Mark Green (now running for state AG) was once advocate and became a miserable candidate for mayor, but it's refreshing to see some people with ideas have a platform for them in city government.

And now we would like to issue a shout-out to the A*sMan. A*sMan is, like us, a frequent user of the Q-Train, and is rather tall. He always wears a pastel-colored shirt with the top few buttons undone and a white t-shirt showing, black pants and shades underground. He always grimaces at people, and looks as if he scraped the other occupants of the carriage from his shoe. The haircut is somewhat reminiscent of mid-period Gary Cole.

So why do we call him A*sMan? Because we first noticed him a while back leaning against one of the poles in the carriage. Not the ones in the centre, which are fair game provided the car's not too busy, but one just above a seat. The guy in the seat is looking severely agitated at this black-clad a*s in his face, and eventually pipes up "Hey man, can you just, you know, get your a*s out my face?". At which an epic struggle goes on in A*sMan's head, deciding whether to accede to this mortal's request, or to exercise his divine right to place his a*s where he pleases. In the end he shifts over to another side of the (slightly busy) car, and stares ominously at the a*s-objector for the rest of the trip.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Wee Man And Toiletdoor

Half remembered line from 1980s children's TV, a savage and uncontrolled beast that had a mystifyingly small impact on our psyche. Not remotely appropriate, either, for today's post, which will bundle together all the important stuff from the weekend. Apart from that Sufjan business, which we still can't recall. O'Connor's has a new sign, but the jukebox is still unaccountably hostile turf, and the buds are up to $3. Robbery!

We would also like to relate the story of a lady we met recently at a dinner party, who said that she had recently been embroiled in a shouting match with the Lord High Marty-Clown. Turns out that Marty's normally bluff and cheerful mask slips when he is confronted with stadium opponents. On this occasion she was treated to a "What if you're wrong and I'm right, eh? What if I'm right? You don't know what you're talking about!" tirade from the scumster. The flunky (how does a flunky himself have flunkies? No idea) recording the meet-the-people moment abruptly turned off the camera.

So, next time you spot the Marty-Troll gambolling around this fair Borough, you have two options:

1) Scream "Resign Marty!" as soon as gets within earshot. Follow that up with "Mayor Mike's got a bigger thingy than you" and "the Dodgers left. Get over it." Finish it with "you'd be an embarrassment as a Coney Island carney barker."

2) This one requires a bit more preparation. Make sure you have a gigantic foam or inflatable cell phone close to hand or in your pocket, and when he comes near, wave it at him shouting "Oh Marty, it's Brooooooooce!" This is a reference to Marty's humiliating performance during his New Yorker profile, when he hustled to get on a call with the stadium-fiend, and then offered up a stroking of Mr. Ratner that stopped barely short of executive relief.

We didn't actually end up getting into much more trouble this weekend than not remembering an indie-pop show (according to a somewhat agoraphobic gothamist it was little cop). We have got into a bit of a CD binge, whose components we may as well post here:

  • Bob Mould - Body of Song. Not bad - review promised to the zinicles.

  • Primal Scream - Give Out But Don't Give Up. We were a bit trashed when we bought this at Kim's. We've been threatening to obtain a copy of Rocks for a batchelor party, but this seems on the outside to be a bit too much.

  • Sleater Kinney - Dig Me Out. Replacing a tape copy. This is still our favourite. They veer rather amazingly between being very pissed of at men, and being very attached to them. This is of comfort. We occasionally toy with the idea of having One More Hour played at our cremation.

  • Heavy Trash - Heavy Trash. Now, we are prepared to admit that we are a hapless tool in the hands of Jon Spencer, and would probably be in the front of the queue for his fart-concept album. But this is pretty jolly. There were quite a few lazy people on Amazon calling it raw and raunchy, when it's really rather sweet. Reminds us of Cave Cat Sammy. Not really a drunk album.

  • dEUS - The Ideal Crash. We mentioned this already, but also want to recommend Caiman's z-store on Amazon for cheap imports CDs. They were pretty fast and pleasant. We'll probably use them for the new album when it arrives.

  • Tindersticks - II. Oh, this is good. We hope never to be sad enough for this to make total sense, but if we're depressed enough, and have had enough wine. this would do. This was what we were playing on the subway this morning though our rather leaky SR60s. We could swear that the lady next to us started beaming.

Do you think we're trapped in a late 90s drone-pop hovel, now do you? Just a little bit? In related news, noted Stereolab-enabler Robert Moog is dead. R.I.P.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Now, it would, of course, be a good idea to fill out a review of last night's Sufjan show with some actual observations. But we had been drinking heavily before the show at this Irish joint on an empty stomach, so this report will be necessarily impressionistic. The whole thing was a blur of 11 year-old pop strumpets (actually they were probably mormons) and majorette uniforms. We can't actually remember the songs, although the audience was among the most reverent we've ever been a part of.

And then the ninjas attacked and we passed out.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Like Escher For Monkeyclowns

OK, genius-childs, we need you to spell this out for us, but how does an improperly-offered loan of thousands to a small left-wing radio station compare with a billion-dollar corporate fraud/bankruptcy, which left thousands out of work, eliminated thousands' life savings, roiled global financial markets, and permanently screwed up energy markets in the US and Europe? Can you give us something? Anything?

My Girlfriend's Away And I'm Stony

We're going to get in a bit of trouble for that one, and it does break several conventions (first person singular, giving a clue to gender and proclivities). But the opportunity to pay tribute to legendary late nineties nominally-straight-chat-for-gay-men chat line slogans was too irresistable. But when you find yourself bereft, there is but one thing to do, and that's get full bore into stoner rock.

The rockness crew had several suggestions for us, including Stereogum-approved pop stylings at Southpaw. But the line outside looked somewhat unappetising, and we craved more meaty fare. So down we went to Magnetic Fields to get chunky.

We entered the place while Federale were playing. Which made it a tad difficult to order a drink, because Federale are very thunderous. Unapologetic fans of AC-DC and Grand Funk Railroad, they wouldn't stick out in huge swaths of America, although we will admit that their most natural setting would be a greasy basement somewhere in Milwaukee where there are plentiful supplies of sweet, smokable mandrax. Wonderful slide stoner geetar, and a very personable bassist, who gave us a t-shirt and a rekkid.

Well, as a hugely influential dilettante blogger, the least we could do was post it, although why you'd want to get it here when the band has the band's Myspace spot is a very good point. In fact, chucking it on You Send It is probably a step backwards. The record is a bit more restrained, and there's no slide geetar, but it's still pretty gargantuan. We also submitted the tracklisting to iTunes, so we're feeling rather virtuous.

Federale - "Hard Way"

The Brought Low, who headlined, are utter ar*eholes. They were ar*eholes when we cornered them once at an Alabama Thunder Pussy show, and they're still pretty obnoxious. The relentless jokes about Heinken, which was sponsoring the event, grated damn quickly. The savage, simple, elemental riffs are their saviour, though, and will ensure that they get close to heaven. So, and we're surprised this needed spelling out, metal's pretty healthy right now.

After the show we drank for a bit.

So, celebrity mp3 bloggers permitting we might be at the Sufjan show tonight. We went to see this bogus awards show at Webster Hall in February, where Sufjan, RJD2, Ted and Dillinger Escape Plan were playing. Poor Sufjan got heckled by all of the DEP fans, and even Cutesome thought he was a tad dreary considering the company and the setting. Still, he's very popular right now, so we're going to give him a second chance. This is NEW York, non?

[UPDATE: Hello, you disgusting hairy RPGVA people. This blog happens to be written by a limey. Take your worthless Dick Van Dyke impressions somewhere you don't need to spend twenty minutes registering, and we'll have a good old exchange of abuse.]

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Terminal Decay

Boy did we feel like a grinch when Target opened up a store at the Atlantic Terminal down the road. It's Soooo Cool" said the Times as well as some normal human beings of our acquaintance. After a couple of traumatic attempts to buy sheets and some awesomely rude customer service moments, we gave up on the place.

Well, news just in, proper reporter Bryan Curtis of Slate has just been there and he says it's rubbish.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I Am The God Of Hellfire And I Bring You Whimsy

Rilly rilly rilly need to do day job today, so two nuggets.

The first is news that the mighty Lincoln Cathedral (slogan: "one of the finest gothic buildings in Europe") has done what Westminster Abbbey is too snooty to do: accept money from Ron Howard. Howard, who makes some occasionally gripping movies despite grappling with the twin diabilities of being ginger and having a combover, wants to film the epically sh*tey The DaVinci Code in a real English cathedral.

But Westminster, forgetting its glorious past as a focal point for anti-Catholic feeling, has decided that the book is too offensive to its fellow Christians to countenance. Either that, or it considers the book unmitigated drivel. We hope it's the latter. The Dean of Lincoln, on the other hand, realising that insanely old churches don't repair themselves, took the generous donation, allowed in the cameras, and then labelled the book "far-fetched and heretical" as soon as the cheque had cleared. Top.

The big difference, we suspect, is that Lincoln has to work it that little bit harder than Westminster. Lincoln, county town for the ancestral lands of the Gringcorp clan, is located off the major motorways, and offers few attractions other than a square mile or so of (admittedly very pretty) medieval buildings. The cathedral has always been fairly creative with its marketing, once inventing a "Lincoln Zoo" exhibition based around the number of animals included in its stone carvings. At least one eight year-old was entertained by the conceit.

The other nib was sent to us from a limey associate. It references the recent industrial action at British Airways. It works better as an email with the subject line:

BA Still On Strike

And the following picture attached:

We laughed for quite literally seconds.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Vote The Irate Ticket

Our morning constitutional in Prospect Park affords us a chance to keep tabs on the state of the Borough's judicial races. And one day, we might get round to penning something on them. Beyond saying "he looks honest. Vote for him." Or "she looks like the sort of person who wouldn't throw a drink in Bruce Ratner's face. Cast her into New York Harbor." Not very useful, you'll probably agree.

So, we wish to draw your attention to two other candidacies, one on a national level, and the other on the local level. Oh, and one of them's fake. Chistopher Walken is aapparently not running for president in 2008, despite a rather spiffy website claiming the contrary. The claim was debunked rather thoroughly by the Rev Moon's cohorts, as well as assorted other right wing crazies. Pity, the man is obviously much more capable of QUITE LITERALLY SHOOTING EVILDOERS IN THE FACE than the current nebbish we've got.

The second campaign that has caught fire is that of Gifford Miller, speaker of the city council and candidate for Mayor. We still can't really tell if Giff is this obnoxious young person that might mellow into a quite personable politician, or whether he might always be in danger of Jumping Up And Down or Frothing At The Mouth At Solemn Occasions. This was, you will recall, the dilemma we faced assessing the candidacy of Jim McGreevey for governor of New Jersey. We called it wrong there, labelling as a slightly edgy approach to politics what was in fact batsh*t insanity. We won't be fluffing that call again.

So far we've been treated to Mayor Mike's ads, whch are all thrusting and businesslike, like the Cushman & Wakefiield spots (could this be on our headstone? "Thanks, but I'm going with Cushman & Wakefield". Only other time the phrase will get uttered in real life). We also recently experienced Freddy Ferrer's ad, which makes you want to burst into tears, so hardscrabble is the man's childhood.

Giff has been told to project Youthful Energy And Ideas And Action. Which are in Giff's hands conflated with Crazy On A Stick. And so it is. We have a slice of giddy cheese that would embarrass a man running for school board in Des Moines. We urge you to watch it here before the little imp changes his mind. Money quote: "Bloomberg's stadium boondoggle. Others talked. I cut off its funding." Now we hate stadium scams as much as the next blog-gas, but Giff sounds positively vindictive. Don't vote in this election. What with the unnaturally pointy Anthony Weiner, in the mix, the whole process is too unspeakable.

Possted below is a tune that may or may not have anything to do with current events. It's an AAC, but we don't care.

Fugazi - "Walken's Syndrome"
Buy "In On The Kill Taker" Here At Big Corporate Amazon. Do It. DO IT!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Gastarbeiter Goo-goo

So, Slate has just discovered the Middle Eastern states' cheap labour solution. The resulting article, Thanks for Your Hard Work. Now Get Out!, notes that foreign workers can move to the oil-rich Gulf States by finding a generous local sponsor willing to employ them. Their fortunes remain tied to that employer, and they must leave at the end of their service. Guess what? Slate just described at least two US visa types (hello E-2 status!), only with one crucial difference. In the US, unlike Qatar, the guest workers have to pay taxes. Nice.

You Can Get Back In The Machina Now

More a series of barely controled neurological impulses than anything else.

Finally made the connection between current events and the orange-bedecked cars streaming down Flatbush between Borough Park and the City yesterday. the orthodox were out in force protesting the Gaza pullout, and probably in sufficient numbers to compell NY1 to make the withdrawal the top story this morning. Cue rock-throwing and various acts of low-level defiance from the young settler sympathisers. The New York end could barely muster some coherent slogans.

We've tended to avoid discussions with any of the settlers' rights people we might encounter, since we can't see where an argument in favour of settling all Palestinian lands would go. "Um, what do you do with the people that are already living there....?" The settlers' main argument (aside from the insane messianic stuff) is that Gaza would be a useful base for terrorists, and while we would agree that the spot would be uncomfortably close to Israel, there is also the possibility that anyone wanting to force a pullout from the West Bank or, yes, the destruction of Israel, could pursue these goals from a greater distance, say, for example, Tripoli.

There probaby should be a word for this sensation, and we're not sure it's an honourable one, but it's not quite schadenfreude. It describes the way that every time a pretty hardline and tough-sounding politician comes to office in Israel he's eventually forced to take a position that infuriates the extreme right not so much out of electoral calculations but to avoid a bloodbath. We imagine that Bibi will feel the effect soon enough.

Rather than attempt a elegant segue, we'll just lurch into the faintly, and comparatively not remotely, distressing news that dEUS' album the Ideal Crash is not available for purchase in the United States of America. This is the first decisive black mark against the cultural life of our homeland that we've ever recorded. This news reached us as we embarked on Operation Put The Tapes Up Front, whereby the terrible C90 renderings of grunge classics are to be replaced by shiny CDs, and from there rendered to iPod. Early rescues for Nirvana Unplugged and the first Weezer. But no bloody dEUS.

We were going to leave it there, and wait for a sublime second-hand experience before posting something a few weeks later. But a second's googling lets us know that dEUS are back! dEUS are/were the kings of Belgian alternative rock, mentioned by their more rabid adherents in the same breath as REM or Radiohead. We always preferred to see them as a gentler and cleverer Smashing Pumpkins, but please don't let that put you off. They disbanded towards the end of the last century after losing too many members, and not selling enough records.

But they're back. With a new album and everything. You can only purchase the new music on the iTunes at present, which sucks pebbles because of the DRM and all that. There is also a show on at the ICA while we are in London, but it is sold out. We are already working on the rationalisation that will be required when it dawns on us that we cannot find a ticket, of which the most obvious is that of the original line-up, only singer Tom Barman remains (the Belgian G N' R? Oh goody), and the fans are not entirely convinced by the new stuff.

So we'll post something from the first album, Worst Case Scenario, which you can, and indeed must, buy HERE. This one is called secret hell, and references the Sunday Telegraph, and is rather sad, and was not enough to lure Cutesome back into the bed the other morning. Feh. Barry White it ain't.

dEUS - "Secret Hell"
Buy the album here. Go On. Do it. What's wrong with you?"

[Originally entitled "Stuff...Nonsense...Ect, Ect" until the spirit of dEUS came back in]

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sealed With A Hiss

A lot of you probably no longer have the ability to conceive of a world before Gumby Fresh. And that's OK, since such expressions of cognitive dissonance would not serve our purposes one bit. But we'll let you into a secret - there once was.

In the bad old days before this omniscient, pansexual gas-like culture-being took up a laptop (how does a gas have hands? SHUT UP you cheeky agringist!) there were only two blogs that mattered: Luke Donnellan's World Of Leopard Seals and Death To False Seals. The results of this struggle are well known - the elephant seals of Southern California beat the leopard seals of the Antarctic hands down. Luke, despite his courageous decision to blog under a real name is no more.

(By way of a digression, there are signs of a renewed offensive, as this tempting nugget suggests. And the site appears to have a very hardcore comment spam filter, so not only can you not find the latest information on 'erbal poker-playing enhancements, but you cannot read the Warriors-esque taunt we wanted to leave there.)

Anyway, the message that the world of leopard seals wanted to leave with us was that seals are magical and mischievous animals that are also a little bit dodgy, but occasionally very cute. Sort of like the cockneys of the sea. What was required was proof of something not only cuter, but that makes seals look bad. And we found it, walking one sweltering afternoon through the Slope.

Indeed, probably the only thing one should do in 95-degree weather is go and watch a documentary about penguins. So we went to see March Of The Penguins, to see if it really was possible for a creature to be comic and stoic at the same time. It was during this movie that we saw shocking footage of a leopard seal biting a lady penguin to bits. We know that Luke warned us, but at the time we were too interested in leaving comments like 'I eat your face' on the site.

Still, go and watch the nature filum. It's not too sentimental, and it provides a much-needed boost to the French film industry (have you seen Asterix. Don't). It does at moments make them seem almost human, but more worrying is the Morgan Freeman narration, which makes it easy for us to conflate the struggle of the penguins to stay alive with the struggle of Andy Dufresne for freedom. That's our bad, though.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Get Riel Paid

So, where does the average citizen stand with regards to his or her rights to reserve space in advance for the enjoyment of their associates? How far does a good bagsie stretch? We got a partial answer to this last week at a screening in the Union Square Theater of the Aristocrats. We spent five minutes grinning sheepishly at seat hunters after two associates (one of whom was somewhat Cute) left a packed showing momentarily to perform some maintenance work.

The principle looked sound then, the more so for it being the mighty Gringcorp doing the bagging. But at last night's screening of Animal House on pier 54 we were confronted with some shaven fiends asserting a vaguely-defined right to bag enormous swaths of the asphalt in front of the screen. Still it was too hot to fight, and we were able to use the rarely effective "we'll move if your stupid elephantine friends ever show up, OK?" gambit.

Can't say that Animal House has aged hugely well, partly because of the National Lampoon chaps' habit of leaving punchlines half formed, and the fact that the movie has only the slenderest of plotlines. In this respect Revenge of the Nerds has the edge, although its acting is worse and it isn't as dark.

Still it gives us a chance to post a couple of mp3s (well, AACs, if we're going to be accurate), which we will of course remove if you are the copyright holder and wish us to do so. Neither of them are, alas, by Otis Day And The Knights. Both are riffs on frathouse anthem Louie Louie.

The first is by long-forgotten New Wave of New Wave ((c) the NME) chancers These Animal Men. Contemporaries of S.M.A.S.H., and maybe even the Manic Street Preachers, TAM were skag-addled skiny gobshites long before the Libertines ate Brixton. This cut is from the second disc of the two-part Light Emitting Electrical Wave single (if that makes an ounce of sense), which you can buy HERE, and has little melodically in common with the Kingsmen's epic.

These Animal Men - "Louis Loui"

The other tune is by skiffle-edged garage rock heroes Thee Headcoats. If you want to rile a White Stripes fan by calling the Detroit scene kings TOYS, then this is the band to drop. They produced more good albums than Canada, swore like troopers and enabled leader Billy Childish to indulge several of his more peculiar obsessions. The first was a Sherlock Holmes fetish, which was considered commonplace in the late nineties (see alsoLionrock's debut).

The second was an enduring fascination with Louie Louie. With a little bit of googling we could probably uncover the reason and we hope that it has something to do with the song being the touchstone of garage rock. In any event, he recorded two and a half versions oof the song, all of which are represented on their singles collection, "Elementary", which you can buy HERE, you thieving numpties. We're going with the half version, which is a recasting of the song to lionise meti revolutionary warrior Louis Riel. For more on this fine, and rare upstanding, Canadian, read this comic book. If you are then seized by the urge to burn down Winnipeg, then we, of course, disclaim responsibility. So there.

Thee Headcoats - "Louie Riel"

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Youth Clubz

It had been a while since our last visit to the Guardian's website. We used to come by regularly for the comment section, but too many Polly Toynbee columns began corroding our soul...and we drifted off to the blogs' echo chamber. But we came back today to get a handle on the news, and came by this nugget on the new drink laws. Reading it was a revelation - we've either got very old, very authoritarian, or very reasonable.

The English labour under drinking laws that were first enacted during the Great War, laws which were designed to keep munitions workers from getting lagered during their lunch breaks, far as we can tell. They have, obviously, been somewhat modified since then, but there is still no god-given right to keep one's gin palace open till 4am on the books. Nor, you might add, is there any guarantee that one can find a drink at any time in several US counties.

But when we first moved here the contrast was clear and 4am liver-destruction was a big selling point of New York over London. This despite the fact that in various pockets of Soho and Islington one can drink quite safely until at least 2am. We at first welcomed the change in the UK's laws to allow 24-hour drinking, in part because we really did believe that it would encourage a gentler appproach to drinking, but also because we wanted to drink late.

So what's changed? We don't drink till 4am much these days, at least not in bars, and the only places we do like drinking late would either close at 11 to get some bloody sleep, or possibly have a lock-in, if they were in the mood. We've also come gradually to the conclusion that the British aren't good around drink. While you might wish to conjure up a view of britons drinking happily around the town square like the trully lovely French town of Saumur, that ain't what's on the cards. Torremolinos or possibly Ibiza is what's on the cards.

We can imagine instead streets packed with drink touts, terrible loud bars, and fights. Lots of fights. Or, as the senior coppers' conclave Acpo puts it:

"One only has to look to popular holiday destinations to see the effect of allowing British youth unrestricted access to alcohol,"

And there's the rub. Ya can't trust a Brit around booze.

We were rooting around for a suitably lurid picture to accompany this post (we are trying to wean ourselves off hotlinking to other people's images), and stumbled across the next Goldie Lookin' Chain. For those of you not in the know, this is the growing movement of Chav-Rock. GLC are really tangential to this movement, but Youth Of Britain, or YOB, for short, are the real deal. The music has its moments, some of which get close to sounding like Faith No More, although it's not hugely inspiring. The band don't help theselves with this pompous little mission statement:

"YOB make music and visuals for a generation force fed a diet of Bullshit. We live in a world where what we see is what we get but not necessarily what we want. YOB is freedom of speech and expression, truth, knowing it and speaking it."

We then amble over to the video section to watch The Governor, a colourless rant about welfare cheats, with a Parklife verse, and the Faith No More chorus. Not so fun. But the visuals? A good thirty seconds of amusement - Burberry-clad cats with guitars jumping up and down in time to the music. Well, we liked it anyway.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Upstate Ranking

Call us a snob, we don't care. But we've always felt that the essence of democracy is very smart, very urbane, very expensively educated people pretending to be bluff, no-nonsense, commonsensical sons of the soil. Not acting stupid, as such, but definitely avoiding the epithet "too clever by half", as hurtful in American English as it is in English English. Some people are better at it that others, but understand that this is part of capable people becoming electable.

Which is why we've got so fond of Hilary Clinton, and we cheer whenever she goes haring off after a video game company or abortion. We really don't think she cares that much, but understand that it's the price you pay for getting a non-moron or -maniac elected. It's the same reason why top Park Sloper Senator Chuck Schumer is on the peculiar side of so many farming votes - it plays well upstate.

So, we've been following the Jeanine Pirro announcement with some interest. Pirro wants to try and snare Hilary's Senate seat, and wants to be branded as a tough lady lawyer with a slightly roguish husband. We'll leave the impeccably-polished snark to Gawker, which notes that society still takes a dimmer view of tax fraud than shagging an intern.

Jeanine Pirro is like the NY Post in human form, a brash but somewhat dim and sensationalist politician. Pretty nasty, too. From the News:

"Trust me, my full-time is a lot better than her part-time," Pirro sniped.

To say that the NY Republican party is somewhat debased from its Dewey/Rockefeller apogee would be an understatement. look, we know that Pirro's going to get beaten like a gong, and that she's pro-choice, which is always good to a bit of Republican baiting, but we need to get not one, but two comparisons out the way. There's a third, but it's put together by barely literate photoshop apes at Free Republic and is thus disqualified. The first, as we mentioned, we'll leave to Gawker.

Jeanine's record is, how shall we put this?, slim. She's done some sterling work for abused women, and is apparently more articulate than the bulk of Fox News commentators. But her crowning achievement has been a series of stings against internet sex predators. All good work, keeping perverts off the streets and all that, but if we were the dirty tricks wing of Clinton 2006, we'd be subtly comparing the politician that designed a (admittedly doomed) national healthcare plan with the politican that impersonates kids on the internet. Is that fair? No. Do we nonetheless believe it? No comment. Should Pirro have gone off and ran for state attorney general instead? HELL YES.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Double Scumclown Cash Money

Not content with enabling scaplers its every waking moment, Ticketmaster decides it also wants to make some money from scalping. Love the "a portion of the proceeds benefiting The Innocence Project" line. What portion, you revolting greedy loons?

If we didn't have two tickets, for admittedly not great seats, we might be angrier.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Stinky Winky

There is probably an embittered trend skulking in some corner of Bushwick that thinks that PS1's Warm-Up is played out. They would, of course, be missing the point. In theory, a mixture of DJs and modern art should attract crowds that resemble more a carpet of purest faux-hawk than an evening out on the Jersey Shore.

So what PS1 does, in attracting such familiar, nay conservative, DJs, is ensure that the whole event doesn't disappear up its own bottom, and that the event has a decent turn out. Coming up for instance, will be a set from Norman Jay, Member Of The Frickin' Empire.

But the event still attracts the more dubious element. Not the ones in J Crew shorts and unironic polo shirts (we won't be chucking those rocks, since we're halfway there). No, we refer to the spawn of Victoria Gotti, the lesser spotted guido.

You probably haven't seen the guido out of evening wear, in which they are a familiar greasy sight - all pinky rings, shiny shirts and too much hair oil. But were you to be hanging out on a street corner in Bensonhurst, you would encounter gangs of tanned, almost orange youths, clad mostly in basketball tops and trucker hats. It is this headgear/torsogear juxtaposition, as well as a surly demeanour, that distinguishes the young guido during daylight hours.

Why they had decided to take up residence on the steps immediately in front of the DJ, and then sit and scowl and anybody dancing, walking, or spilling beer in their vicinity, was beyond us. The attractions of Josh Wink were presumably a large paart of this, as were the people to stare at. That, and the opportunity to hoover up cocaine undisturbed, since the security was mostly confined to the perimeter.

Did we mention the guidos were coked up? Oh, yes, ten gonzo little twitchy pigeons alternately grinning and scowling, like a Johnny Boy convention. We'd forgotten the macho techno element, but this little crowd was preposterous. One of them was bleeding profusely froom the nose.

We suggest you visit this set of Flickr pix for the smiley version of events, and to get an idea of how much Target merchandise was floating around. Everyone got visors, and usually threw them away, but there were a fair few seat cushions as well, and people took the foam out of them and started using them as frisbees. The guidos didn't like the cushions because every time one of them hit them in the head it disrupted the tough guy pose, so they tended to try and stockpile them, although quite often someone would sneak up behind them and steal their stash.

And so at about six thirty from the roof of the gallery comes a hail of Target beachballs, and everyone starts battting them about in the crowd like the infant hipsters they are. Not the guidos. If a beachball came into guido airspace it was brought down and stabbed with keys, the same keys that had been shovelling coke into guido noses for the last hour or so. The pile of beachball carcasses was a noble sight, and we're sure in the eyes of the guidos went some way towards atoning for the cowardice of their ancestors in the face of the Saracen invasions.

We went to queue for a drink instead. The art? Really good. Go and see it for yourself, especially the creepy fluffy white creatures.

We're not going to pretend we owned Belly last night. No, we owned it two YEARS ago. Mwah. Hah. Hah, Hah. Mom's Pizza, though, that's been bagged.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Hedphone Sex

We have not been overly enthused about matters media of late. Even the not very volcanic Novak pissy fit, which looked frankly staged, has barely roused us from our torpor. The inicdent somehow lacked the nobility of Arthur Chien's f***-strewn outburst on CBS. We do want to talk about this new NY1 show called The Call, but we suppose that blogger ethics oblige us to watch the stupid thing on a FRIDAY EVENING first.

So, like any other good self-absorbed capitalist, we'll talk about our new merch instead. Those of you that were too lazy to follow the links at the bottom of yesterday's post aren't alone, so we will recap. We had hoped a few weeks back to travel to the legendary home of legendary headphone manufacturer Grado Labs in Sunset Park to purchase a pair of their deliriously chunky SR60s, but after a pointless sweaty march gave up.

An email later, and after reading this from Forbes we smellt the "don't come round our townhouse begging for headphones" coffee, and bought them at engagingly unctuous hi-fi emporium Sound By Singer. The first thing you'd notice is that they're huge. Even the cable reminds one of the antenna cord for a TV rather than a headphone. And one's head is inclined to get rather sweaty in this weather. And it looks like the BBC from the 1930's has attacked said head, and was only persuaded to retreat by an evil cloud of Skycaptain debris.

But the sound is absolutely divine, about up to snuff on the subway, perfect in the office, and pretty effective on the street. They'd probably attract quite a few stares in a location other than New York, but in this fair city qualify as almost tame headgear. Seventy sheets and they're yours. Somewhat bulky.

We would also like to draw your attention to this blog spawn of a limey up on Forwarded by a mole there who may or may not be engaged in viral marketing, it is by a single young gentleman living in the north, not far from Huddersfield, if we're not mistaken.

It contains one central, powerful and important truth: limeys don't date. At least not willingly, consciously, or well. A limey on a date will deny it until they can maintain the fiction no longer. Many dates are often arranged after the drunken hook-up to solemnify a connection that is frayed from the start. The ideal limey date would be in a brewery, or maybe just a vast lake of Stella Artois. This one looks sensitive, so we put a tapas bar seduction past him, mind.

We're going to have a little go at posting an mp3 now. As far as we can tell the main game with such exercises is to post something with as many external singifiers as the post can bear, and to make it as rare as possible. Well, we've got something vaguely close, and more importantly it seems to have been rendered by the confounded iTunes in mp3 rather than AAC, as too many of our babies have.

We promised you ninjas, once, lots of ninjas. It was to have been an epic meditation on those black-clad freaks and why we love them so. It would have touched upon the enormously influential Commodore 64 classic Last Ninja 2, and take in the night we flitted from the heavily ninja Batman Begins (marred only by the Liam Neeson character saying "ninja, rather than "neeenja") to the pretty ninja, but mostly manga South Park episode. But we failed you.

You seemed to take it all in your stride, for which we are grateful. But it struck us, what would be MORE POWERFUL than a ninja, more rare and samplable than James pre-show fart-purges, and yet show what an engaging little limey we are? Ah, nous savons, a little ditty from the Ghost Dog IMPORT Soundtrack. That's right, not the one you get in America, you helpless rubes. But you can, and indeed should, buy it through the previous link.

This one demonstrates that RZA (pronounced Rizza, we hear, rather than enunciating the initials, as any overly earnest TOY might suppose) has a flair for the eastern-sounding, rather than just eastern mumbling in his music. RZA, more than you'd imagine, has the ability to knuckle under for the right director, and Jim Jarmusch thus obtains a delightful little loop for the purposes of making his aerial shots seem even more weightless. And, according to El Times, Jarmusch doesn't let you pull that crap for nothing.

Unleash THE SAMURAIS! Or not, as the case may be. Yousendit, aka .mac for teenagers, is also throwing a pissy fit today, thus granting this post more internal consistency than it has any right to. We'll have another go this evening.

UPDATE 08/06/05: Welcome to multimedia, bitches

'RZA - Samurai Theme'

But It Fresh From Japan

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Moron Tax

Your average cinemagoer should know that there are several filters through which one should take a potential movie 'experience'. The first, and most brutal, is the mighty Times movie section, which is not merely difficult to locate, buried beneath the full page ads for Rob Schneider vehicles, but also usually rather catty. If you were to start at the other end, one would use the easily available and pointlessly reasonable Neil Rosen.

In between there are several other guiding lights that one can use, ranging from explosion count to whatever Cutesome tells one to watch that night. But the one reliably useless tool, the chocolate fireguard among recommendations, is the poster quote. It's reassuring that they're there, we suppose, but it's a rare moment when one cannot find some half-demented morning show DJ in Kansas to like your movie and thus use his droolings. If you were in a real bind, there are also probably several rather perverse websites around that take a delight in digging bad movies.

So, we're somewhat perplexed by the news that Sony must pay out CASH MONEY to moviegoers that might have been influenced by fake reviews attached to posters for A Knight's Tale, The Animal (Rahb Schneider is.....a staypleurrr!), the Hollow Man, Vertical Limit and The Patriot. Well, perplexed and relieved, since we'd never really planned on seeing any of them. Well maybe The Patriot, but only to cheer on our boys in Red and the Mighty Hessians....

Anyway, read the linked pdf, if you would like to file a claim, which seems to centre on one insisting under pain of perjury that you bought tickets to the said movies rather than just jumping up and down and singing "once, twice....three times a moron!" As the defence probably should have insisted.

Yes, we're sure that one day we will meet at Pacifico. But the movie theater? That's just jive.

P.S. Well, we caved in. Finally. We're not proud.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tangram Terror

HSBC has decided that the best way to explain to corporate clients that it is a innovative and forward-looking institutution would be to get heavily into tangrams. The blurb explains it thus:

he tangram is a mental exercise that develops vision, focus and imagination — disciplines that are essential to the business of your future

We especially liked the bit about imagination. Here's what top struggling energy provider Dynegy has to say about its AWESOME tangram. Its explanation is slightly longer, but no less turgid or witless for that:

"A tangram can seem complex. Yet the more you look at it, the more you consider the possibilities of using each of the pieces, the more understandable it becomes. A tangram starts as seven precise parts. What's amazing is how many solutions can be created. The only limitation is one's imagination."

Dynegy's tangram is from back in 1998, when it changed its name from Natural Gas Clearinghouse, a name that explained what Dynegy did much too clearly. From Identityworks, noting the work that Enterprise IG did for its client:

"The figures it spawns run, skate and 'do handstands in the service of Dynegy's customers,' and bring the leader's vision to imaginative life."

Almost as foolish as the Consignia debacle. Although obviously HSBC assumed that in the thousands of years since the Chinese first invented it no-one else would have thought of appropriating a cool angular design to show how, er, imaginitive they are.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Grazers Not Gormandizers

It is not often that we stumble across a bona fide Media Event, but when tipped on a fairly short notice Ted show by our favourite evil puppet master blogger, little did we know that we would shortly be plunged into a maelstrom of politics, business annd orange. What was most peculiar about this Ted show was the venue: CBGBs. Not once in our five years trawling for truly abysmal garage rock acts had we ever been near the venue. Brownies, Knitting Factory, Irving Plaza, many times. CBGBs always seemed to have old punk acts or the occasional black metal act that we'd need strong nerves and an understanding accomplice to withstand.

The first inkling we had that something was afoot was when we departed the 6 train, scooted down Bleecker, and saw a throng of TV vans outside the venue(s). Fearing fresh boms from the idiotclown tendency, we approached with trepidation. It turned out, however, that the vans were there to take in CELEBRITIES. Turns out that the gig is a benefit to save CBGBs. Their landlord is threatening to jack up their rent, and the venue may have to close.

Now we have nowhere near the hostility to CBGBs evidenced in some quarters. To us, the place has become an irrelevance. The last act the venue broke was Blondie, and since then the fare has been much less uplifting than the slogan might suggest. In fact, we've sometimes thought that the conservative booking strategy might have been designed to create a sort of stasis, so that the venue might remain forever a late seventies time capsule. And branding CBGBs "The Home of Underground Rock", seems less about breaking new music than creating some kind of House of Blues type nostalgia trip for aging punkers.

The doors opened at seven, we trooped in at eight. and there were four punters, five reporters, six bar staff and nine elderly celebrities getting interviewed. And then Ted zoomed up next to us while we were sat at the bar reading and ordered a drink. Ted! Touching elbows with us! We'd promise not to wash the spot again, but the truth is that after a somewhat messy early morning kebab incident we were left with little choice.

Fortunately we were armed with an implacable cool that prevented us from staring at Ted like a sweaty loon. And Little Steven, who divides his time between pretending to be a gangster and pimping garage band music, hoved into view. With a bandana on his head and a grinning enthusiasm for the acts (he introduced all but one), he did not resemble much the lugubrious consigliere of lore.

Turns out Little Steven has a fine line in garage rock. But we didn't see much of openers the Willowz, because of all of the orange fortysomethings stocking up on t-shirts for their offspring before the place closes. In fact much of the wall of the bar in the 313 gallery was taken up with merch, which struck us as a tad excessive. But the Willowz were amazingly good, like a slightly less silly, more tuneful Datsuns. Yes that is a complement.

We ended up chatting with bassist Jessica after a show, if by chatting you mean slurring "your band is absoutely amazing. Didn't I read something about you in Spin? God I'm drunk." They're pretty disciplined, and were plugging the record and mentioning all the press they'd done. Seemed a bit upset they didn't get an intro from Stevie, but we think they'll survive.

Of the other bands, The Charms sounded delightful, if a little too polished, but had a very brief set. They managed to avoid committing a trumpet-led jam session such as slightly marred the Willowz' set. The The Star Spangles, the Swinging Neckbreakers, and The Five Maseratis were pretty good but didn't set our world alight. Ted's set was better than his Concerts for Kerry performance last fall, which was, to our mind, a tad ropey.

But he did play "Dancing in the Dark", presumably as a nod to Steve's work with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. We haven't heard the song since the first time we caught the Pharmacists at Brownies four years ago. In time maybe Ted will learn to recognise us, since we're sort of his biggest fan, and have been pimping his sounds to many discerning limeys over the years.

But the Brownies reference brings us to the last point we want to make. Nothing lasts forever, particularly seminal rock clubs. In the same way that Brownies dissappeared, and Max' Kansas City, and Wetlands, it's probably best that CBGBs not try and buck the gentrification that's overtaking the LES. Probably the easiest thing for owner Hilly Kristal to do would be to move it someplace where the music makers are now hanging out. That it might inconvenience the establishment crowd that now comes out illustrates how far the place has moved from its roots. Thanks for the shows, but time to move on.

Special Clownshoe Number Two

Early contender for title of second stupidest politician in Brookyln (the first is pretty obvious). Take a bow, Dov Hikind, who suggested that we need more racial profiling in law enforcement and bag searches. We're sure that the assemblyman/clown is making some obscure and wrong-headed point about sticking it to political correctness.

But we need to spell this out real slow. Not Gothammist-politely. It's not just brown people doing this. It's any pissed-off and feeble-minded loser. John Lindh. Richard Reid. Germaine Lindsay. You've just given the bomb-masters an excellent reason to do more outreach.

[Update: left-wing wunderkind Matthew Yglesias makes exactly the same point. Only he's clever, and uses pictures]

Coming up, Garage-tastic rock of garage. Yuh-huh.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Reap What You Saud

How could one make a change of regime in the richest country in the Middle East, a potentially lethal mixture of money and fanaticism, really boring? Replace aging, slightly liberal, but often very reactionary King Fahd, with aging, reputedly liberal but really quite reactionary Crown Prince Abdullah.

Kremlinology has nothing on this gang. No-one really has much of a clue how much money the new regime will be giving to terrorists in the coming months, and even the most optimistic of foreign policy experts has given up getting much in the way of openness from the Saudis. Our prediction? Expect more being forced to take at face value whatever half-truths and platitudes spill out of Turki's mouth because there is no other civilised reaction.

We'll also point you in the direction of this intriguing article in Sunday's Times about the rebranding of the Mets as a natural home for hispanic supporters. There seem to be two problems with this strategy, the first of which the article acknowledges. Hispanic fans seem to have much more loyalty to particular players from their home country or region than the clubs they play for. And the Mets are heavily dependent at the moment on players from the Dominican Republic. Since the Dominican Republic has roughly the population of Greater New York, we can't see the strategy catapulting the Mets into the stratosphere. That said, we must stress that loosening the Mets' dependence on loud orange people from Long Island is VERY GOOD BASEBALL.

Finally, our article for Sugarzine about the events that took place in Coney Island a few weeks back is finally up. What's good: they seem to have rendered our preferred pseudonym properly. What's bad: they've gone back to tucking our stuff away behind articles about iPods and record collections. Oh, and whoever they've decided to put in the picture accompanying Morningwood, it sure as hell isn't the Chantal the singer from Morningwood.

Of course, if we were proper respectful rock critics, we'd point out to the editors direct that Google images requires a certain amount of interpretation. But we did this for free, we've been relegated again, and our ego DEMANDS that we mock them on the internet.

You'll never scene indie in this town again? Nyuh-huh. We got a ticket to see Ted at CBs Gallery ce soir. Toodles.