Wednesday, November 30, 2005

War Rocket Chile-Max

Normally a trip to Chile armed with an awesomely powerful Canon A70 PowerShot ("unsurpassable banker-snapping power") would be a cause for ill-composed photo-glee. But today was spent inside, listening in a half daze to the snippets of Spanish that might be traced back to French, Latin, or the darker recesses of memory. Chile has some of the hardest-working, smartest, and most modest denizens you could ever meet. Why they have not become an elite global force for efficiency along the lies of the Swiss is a mystery. Probably the fact that there are only 12 million of them, as the minister of Health so helpfully pointed out last night.

You will hopefully have read the latest on Mr Cunningham and his plethora of bribes. You may even be aware of the "Victory Plan" that the president has just outlined (the scare quotes belong to the BBC), using terminology eerily reminiscent of 1971. Please read the Next Hurrah's take on how these secret plan thingies work.

The only thing you absolutely must read, along with everyone else, is this tale of shoddy sales tactics from a camera retailer. There is definitely a website waiting to go up that provides a handy single source for gripes about utilities, retailers and airlines (particularly airlines, especially those that pretend not to find reservations, ya scumticles). Not one of those websites, but an com of abuse and grudge posts, with the shopping option removed. It would even be more popular than, because there's nothing like gloating at the misfortune of others in the name of research.

Brief, and scrappy bit of undignified garage rock for you. Could have cleaned it up, but there's dinner to catch...

The Datsuns "Freeze Sucker"
Buy "The Datsuns" here. They're not quite as compelling live, but are sooo cutely stupid

[Update, hello, surpisingly large number of people that waded through the comments and all of the links from the original post to see our tuppence. Brooklyn electronics retailers are definitely like this. Pro-Line on Atalntic Avenue once offered a "one time, as long as you don't walk out this store, reduction" on a turntable listed at 40% lower in Amazon]

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Can You Spot Madame Olenska?

Happy penultimate day of november, from sunny Santiago. We are rather nicely ensconced in the Intercontinental Hotel, taking the usual dreary pictures of our sanitary surroundings. We're tired, the plane was delayed, and were not able to avail ourselves of five hours of JFK Terminal 4's skylounge, we'd likely be a sight grumpier.

What's changed? The roads have got even better, for reasons that we know all too well, and which we will refrain from enumerating, since they must be rendered unto dayjob. The weather's sunnier, and the shops close earlier. Chile gets smarter every time we visit.

With one small exception. The taxi-pimps. We are not that fond of unbidden contact with strangers at the best of times (any journalist would rather control the terms of an encounter). The wave of taxi-drivers that greets the traveller upon emerging from customs is incoherent and menacing.

there probably aren't enough people going through Santiago's airport to justify a taxi-rank, but some first come first served system would prevent the casual visitor's overwhelming impression of a fine country being legions of smartly-dressed, moustachioed, weathered men screaming for cash.

We made very solid progress on Edith Wharton's Age Of Innocence today. And we couldn't agree with Newland Archer's family more - the best travel is achieved with the minimum amount of human interaction possible.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Beastly Indie Fiends


We left behind - albeit briefly - the alcoholic fug of the last few weeks, and traipsed down to Cobble Hill to watch a movie. Actually traipsed is probably not the right word, since it involved a mad dash down fifth avenue, thanking the lord that the B71 was late and Cutesome's world record turkey sandwich preparation run.

The movie in question was top west Slope indie flick The Squid And The Whale, which had been filming at the end of our block for several weeks last year. The use of the edgy west slope as a cinematic backdrop is very welcome, and evens the score mightily with the Slope proper, which was good and destroyed in War Of The Worlds.

Of course, it provides us with at least one chance to display our well-developed neighborhood pedantry. Divorced Dad Jeff Bridges moves out of the well-appointed townhouse on Sixth Avenue and Lincoln into a place "the other side of the park", we're guessing from the subway sequence to be around Newkirk on the Q (or whatever they were calling the Brighton Beach line back in 1986). But when his compulsive masturbator of a son goes out for Tylenol, where does he go, but past the dubious hardware store on Fifth Avenue between Sterling and Park? Explain that, mainstream media!

Oh, the film? Stonking stuff. A nasty awkward stab at portraying a family disintegrating. Mostly, we should note, because the menfolk can't stop being so disgustingly pompous. But that doesn't stop them from screwing everything up even more.

There probably should be a slightly better review in this spot, but we have a plane to catch to Santiago. Go see the movie, just don't spend too much of it trying to make out the street signs. That's just f***ing sad.

North Korean Insult Latest

""CNN is losing popularity as the days go by although it had high audience rating in the world in the past," KCNA said. Much upset by this, CNN staged such poor farce to improve its image."

All this in response to a documentary that was less than flattering about North Korea's criminal justice system. Via, we must confess, kausfiles. Still, they were curiously silent on the subject of Team America.

Related: NK OTT

Saturday, November 26, 2005


  • George Best. RIP. Was much better to football than it was to him. The reason we even mention the game is that he made it sound so fun.

  • Marty Markowitz doing something not contemptible, by reminding Time Magazine that a profile of neo-Nazi tween pop sensations Prussian Blue that doesn't mention the neo-Nazi bit is sick and wrong.

  • Big up to the Smithsonian National Air Space Museum, in particular the excellent aerial photography of Brooklyn, impressive diagrams of WWII Pacific carrier battles, and the ginormous hanging planes. Not so keen on the miasma of strollers, the "aerodynamics is fun!" free-for-all, and the computers-are-the-future from 1990, as exemplified by Iridium!

  • Blue Ribbon Sushi delivers. Bugger. Kiku, of course, is both cheaper and nearer, but BRS speaks to our inner rock pig. Expect a selling of tainted limey blood scam, so as to pay for the pretty pricey sushi, soon.

  • Madam's Organ and house band Patrick Alban & Noche Latina. Sorry we took so long on the pool table. We were rather drunk.

  • Er, well done, Mig-Hole

Pixies - "Space (I Believe In)
But it here. But see if you still like space after the nineteenth stroller jam at the Smithsonian. Feh.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Adventures In Blogland

Ho Ho, happy holidays, especially to the morons in dayjobland that think that Thanksgiving means not having to bring their keypass to work and that the person nearest the door is automatically a receptionist. And an extra happy Thanksgiving to the sucktastic suckmerchants at, which seems to decide that ticketmaster-level greed and bad customer service can be supported without having a monopoly. Dear customer service drone, if you refuse to refund someone's cancellation fee when they need to tinker with a reservation and suggest they go back to your website and book all over again, without offering some kind of refund, then they will probably go somewhere else, regardless of whether you were right or not. Byeee!

Those of you with absolutely tiny blogrolls and a healthy lack of interest in politics will with luck be blissfully unaware of the launch of Pajamas Media, a new blogger-led media outfit. Even those of you that have been following the story would likely be more aware of the frequent changes in their name (they were Open Source Media for a while before it was pointed out that their media wasn't open source, and there was already another website with that name) than their funding.

They raised $3.5 million in venture capital funding a week ago, largely based on an advertising-led business model. We're not at cross as this gentleman with their business practices, but we find that putting venture capital at work behind a portal that's not doing a huge amount more than the Huffington Post or Drudge is edgy, to say the least.

We can't find much in the way of background for named investors Jim Koshland and Aubrey Chernick, particularly anything that might give a clue as to their political leanings. We still believe that Pajamas Media has a solid rightwards slant, but are wary of viewing the VC investment as a cute way of funneling ideological cash to sympathetic outlets. For starters neither of the main funders crops up on opensecrets as a donor to a particular party.

But, we can't help but think that funneling venture capital to large and seemingly independent group blogs, especially those that have established names attached and a decent chance of climbing in the rankings, might be a very nimble way of funding campaign spending. While in the past Richard Mellon Scaife might have funneled money to Republicans through The Center For Slightly Bonkers Approaches to Childrearing, or somesuch, it might be easier, and more discreet, to do it this way.

We've got no evidence of this happening, and we promise you that this isn't a hugely tendentious way of arguing that internet speech should be regulated. but given how much soft money is flowing through hedge funds, private equity, and through family investment vehicles, it could be one to watch.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ave, Alexis

[<--DEAD] This morning's savage constitutional, courtesy of an ex-military type, as well as a little dose of treachery, have left us weary but fulfilled. And so let's return to a post that we would have liked to have put up yesterday. To whit, the end of Rome, one of the few reasons we've had of late to tune in to HBO.

Many HBO subscribers take it for the difficult to follow comedy, as well as the occasional breast. We take it for the gratuitously pulpy, violent and exploitative drama, and a plethora of breasts. There has been nothing to live up this remit since the mighty Oz went off the air. The Sopranos and Wire, by contrast, are rather staid.

Rome, on the other hand, is this unwieldy, nasty, epic soap opera that will put food on the table of many a starving limey actor. It is a co-production with the BBC, which has thus had to fend off witless enquiries from the Sunday Telegraph . The Torygraph asks whether the scenes of graphic sex involving that bird from Patriot Games, which it obviously had to enumerate, are too much for the humble tommy.

It's a wonderful get out. HBO and the Beeb must present each murder, rape, prodigiously endowed slaves, cussing out and sub-Cicero oration because that's how it actually happened. This isn't the first time that such an attempt has been made on a previously bowdlerised era. From Hell confirmed what we always suggested - that the Victorians were a gang of sick, whoremongering junkies.

The contrast between the sordid deals that immediately belie their participants' talk of honour, of honour, the senate surrounded by filth and violence, the use of sex, not marriage, not the alliance, just sex, as a weapon. Cicero and Cato, as, respectively, coward and schemer, were wonderful to behold. Shakespeare bee damned, this is the Colbys chucked in a time machine.

We imagine you might find this tiring if you are surrounded by sex and violence all day. If you recall the dead hand of a classical education, as we are sure much of the BBC's drama department does, it's rather refreshing. It also explains why the BBC version, according to our eyewitness reports, decided to skip most of the early episodes' politics to concentrate on the sex and violence, with the BBC explaining it by saying that everyone knew the story anyway. Well spoiler alert, limeys, CAESAR GETS STABBED. Heh.

In comparison, the doings of the proletarians are of little interest. Now, here we might be betraying our own classical education, but we didn't find them convincing. Probably because they didn't all stand with their legs wide apart like ACTAWS declaiming. But they they all met suitably tragic denouements. More so than the noble protagonists, most of whom seem to have prospered through treachery.

We say - watch them all with the ones you love, and then enjoy the dreams of torture.

Monday, November 21, 2005

More Pastrami, Meester Creosote?

What a truly wretched start to the week. Roger Clark is being sent to Japan to file self-consciously wacky reports from halfway round the world. All the blogs are boring. And we can barely keep our eyes open.

There should, of course, be a comedown associated with a rock-pig weekend such as the one we most recently completed. But we feel that being a moderately solicitous and inventive host should entitle us to at least a small measure of relief from the effects of our exertions.

Not a bit of it. And in fact, this is one of these rare occasions when we still wish we were an idiot. In the olden days, a gringcorp would drink a while, more often than not fail to eat anything more substantial than a monkey nut, and go to bed. The painful, screaming hangover would then be dispatched using well-judged pinpoint strikes from various forms of fat and sugar.

Oh, and sleep. The more the better. Brisk walks maybe. So, what has changed? The feeding. What really seems to have upset our equilibrium are the quite gargantuan quantities of food we recently have been consuming. Including a first ever visit to the Carnegie Deli.

We've never really been that into the Carnegie, mostly because of the two levels of snobbery that it offends. The first, inverse snobbery, dictates that Katz's, which is downtown and near some edgy stuff, is likely to be more hardcore than one located on 55th and 7th. The second is that premium delis should not really need to regale diners and potential customers with a video of how amazing they are.

In our opinion, the pastrami is slightly less chunky and slightly less moist than the competition - and certainly the place is very cramped. The waiters are all very entertaining, maybe even echt, but sticking one's feet out after devouring a couple of pounds of cured meat is much less pleasurable when it means kicking one's fellow diners in the rude bits.

But the sandwich is certainly revoltingly big, a good ten inches tall, and bracketed by the most token, feeble, pieces of rye we have ever encountered. Not a figleaf for an assault on one's sense of shame, so much as garnish at a roman orgy. We took the Woody Allen, a mixture of corned beef and pastrami named after some guy from Coney. After about three quarters it was only a dismal sense of duty that kept us eating. The hateful solitary slog through the last quarter was enough to tar the experience in our mind permanently.

We had finished a impressive pile of pancakes the morning previously at Tom's, and cackled mercilessly as we dispatched plates of appetizers at Oliva, and plates of purest steak at Azul.

It is important, you see, that we not engage in the needless wasting of food, and in any case our upbringing, while secure, was frequently populated by sparingly-applied institutional food. Carnegie, however, proved that we must sometimes scream "halas", before collapsing in a booze-soaked, spent, heap.

By the time we shepherded the limeys down to the mighty Stone Park for brunch, the acquisition of meat had become a joyless and painful process, albeit a strangely compelling one. "Your biscuits with sausage gravy, do they have some sausage as well? No, only some sausage in the gravy? Well, we will need actual sausage as well on the side. Aaaaarrgh"

It was all we could do to avoid begging them to slip us some ham on the way to the bathroom, although such a question might have been open to misinterpretation. A tour round the park, and even the rest of the day in bed, have still not brought us back to humanity.

Some of you might be thinking, maybe they had a bit of help? No. We. Didn't. You. Impertinent. Whelps.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Paley Riders

It has been a bit of a rubbish run of form of late, and don't think we are not ashamed of it. There have been some chaps off of the boat that must be entertained by any means necessary. We were by and large successful.

In between the boozing, there has been precious little chance to take in much culture, or even read the newspapers, although we did enjoy the scotch-swilling old school journos strewn all over Good Night and Good Luck. We would be remiss in not pointing out that the history is, by one account a bit iffy. Gorgeous to behold, though.

And a perfectly good excuse to post a Husker Du song. Which starts sleazy, but ends up righteous. Not unlike CBS in reverse.

Husker Du - "Turn On The News"
Get Zen Arcade here. It's a rock opera, dontcha know

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Hmmm, absolutely nothing to report this morning. Slightly hungover after a night out at one of the dwindling band of scummy bars around Union Square. We think that among the subjects broached last evening was journalistic probity, and how to communicate this to a new boy. And then look what happened to that nice Nixon-toppling Bob Woodward?

Turns out Mr. Woodward, having spent much of the last few weeks making inexplicable attacks on the Plame investigation, was embroiled in the whole sordid mess all along. Those weird hagiographies of the president he's been apt to produce have often been excused by his peers because of the occasional interesting detail they dredge up. That, and the fact that Robert Redford played him in All The President's Men. Now we fear it's Miller time.

But you may be more interested in beats. And we have something here from Midfield General, aka Damian Harris, the boss of Skint Records. Named after every football player that ever dominated the centre of the field, Harris presumably earned a few bob from putting out Fatboy Slim records. He was thus the evil genius behind big beat, which put people with enormous record collections at the service of Oasis-loving nutters, and brought booze back into the UK's clubs in a big way.

We'd always thought of Mr. Harris as the meat n' two veg of big beat, and certainly Go Off, which appeared on the Essential Skint collection, was not that inspiring. But top volvo-driving, BA-loving Tory techno powerhouse Dave Clarke we do like. He marries beat thuggery to technical brilliance like no other. When we picked up his World Service mix tape super cheap, our favourite tune was this:

Midfield General - "Coatnoise (Dave Clarke remix)"
Buy "World Service" here and pay full price, suckas

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tiddler Jinx

Well, children, there comes a time when we must all settle things with those that done us wrong . No, we do not refer to the fool Markowitz. In fact, we are commencing preparations right now for the kick-ass party we will hold on November 8, 2009, when the useless, gutless ward heeler (St Hunter's words on Hubert Humphrey, we must confess) gets term-limited out of office. And you must head over to the 'Nutrament for Miguel's take on the man's bewildering persona.

But we digress, as if you weren't horribly aware of that from the mouth-froth. We wanted to talk about our coming to terms with Minnow. Minnow was of interest to us until recently only as part of this inscrutable plot that removed a perfectly good second-hand record shop from the brownstone floor above it. Such desecrations are, alas, part of the bulldozer that is gentrification, and while we may be sheepish in admitting it, KickAzz restaurants are an acceptable substitute.

Our pupose was twofold: to discover whether moving the fish market from Fulton Street (near Brooklyn) to the Bronx (inhabited by beastly tentacled things, not yet recognised by the Pope) had made any perceptible difference to the quality of the fair Borough's fish. Oh, and to Feed Cutesome. The interior veered towards the casual dining end of things, complete with banquettes of dubious patterning, and a fishtank so as to amuse the maraudiing toddlers. And it smelled of fish. Duh.

It was a Monday, the home of erratic restaurant openings, and we were steered towards the tasting menu - three courses, each with a wine pairing, for $28. Not bad. Cutesome got the oysters, but those make us go all Exorcist, so we went for the tuna sashimi, which proved to a stealth delivery mechanism for cauliflower, but one we very much appreciated. The chardonnay ruled.

For the main we opted for the snapper with couscous crusting in a chowder. It was good, especially with the sweet potato crunchies. Very good for the inner child, all that mopping and sloshing, and it made up for the crusting being very ferocious. Cutesome had the salmon with red beet risotto. No complaints anywhere.

The desert was slated to be a lemon buttermilk sorbet, but was changed at the last moment to a key lime pie, which was, as Cutesome noted, a tad hardcore for the gentle desert wine with which it was paired. It it is possible that it was designed to be all mushy, but the last minute subsitution, combined with the peculiar texture, made us all paranoid. Were there horrendous CRIMES afoot in the kitchen?

We'd go back, maybe even on a regular night, since there appeared to ber very special things going on in the al a carte appetiser squad. Would we use it as an excuse to post "All He Wants To Do Is Fish" by the Replacements? No, that would be childish and redundant. But some other 'Mats? Why not.

The Replacements - "Beer For Breakfast"
Buy "All For Nothing/Nothing For All Here. And stop f***ing whining about the lack of Twin Tone material

Monday, November 14, 2005


Upon returning to the house from the demonstration we decided to get full-bore into recording some of our obscure mid-1990s free cassette collection as mp3s.

We have no idea if this is an area where mp3 bloggers are already making their mark, but there's certainly a very fruitful crop of rarities from ten years ago waiting to come out and play. And a sh*tload of mediocrity from Cast. We were avid readers during the nineties of NME, Melody Maker, Vox, and Select, the last of which provided us with the name for this blog.

All of them were apt to give out free tapes now and then, up until about 1996, when they started handing out CDs. Select was probably our favourite, since they were a wee bit more sophisticated in their approach, and, we felt, a little bit tougher in their negotiations with the labels. But Vox (now, like Select, very RIP) wasn't bad either.

In 1995, Vox gave away a tape called Class of 1995 that made us reconsider a lot of the British music that was being produced back then. There was some Therapy?, which we loved, but also some Verve, Pulp and McAlmont & Butler, which were almost good enough to make us regret not following fey UK indie bands.

And there was Black Grape. Black Grape were briefly huge, almost as big as the Happy Mondays, from which they drew much of their membership. But the mixture of this slickly produced funk with Sean Ryder's babbling always made us a little bit queasy.

But this is good. A remix of "In The Name Of The Father" with Ryder's vocals slouching around in the background, and all manner of toasting, rapping and shouting going on up front. The beats are much bigger, and the noises much more squelchy, and there are no irritating backing vocals either. Wicked.

Black Grape - "In The Name Of The Father (Chopper Mix)"
Buy the 12" single here. One of the tunes has no singing on it at all. That's probably awesome

Travelling Without Moving

By rights, we were going to ease into this post at about 10am, like a knotted and weary slaughterman eases into a Radox bath. But panic in dayjobland, and a series of inane queries from putative limey houseguests, has delayed it. Yesterday morning was spent doing a little light jogging, followed by a full-on Walkathon against the real estate developer that wants to knock down our local.

So, we listened to a few of the speeches, threw some money in the pot, and then repaired to Freddy's to taste the freedom. We might also add that we assisted the organisers in clearing up, and were thus unable to march, so if you follow the video link from the above NY1 story hoping to UNMASK us, then think again. Rosie Perez, billed as the Grand Marshal of the march, was late, but she did show up, since we encountered her outside Freddy's peering at the signs. Did we say hello? Did we say "Thcwoo Ratner!" Did we hell.

We must apologise to Matt the bartender, who we dragged outside to talk to a rather lazy reporter from Channel 12 News. Her question was "so, the march raised $50,000, What I want to know is what would the organisers do with the money if they don't need to use it?" Matt, who is about as close to the inner counsels of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn as we are, suggested, as politely as possible, that she walk over to Soda and go ask the organisers themselves.

We had already broken for P Heights, there to further get our drink on, and were slightly chagrined at our cowardice. What we probably should have said is this:

"We will attempt to treat your hard-hitting question with the seriousness it deserves. How much is $50,000? A decent chunk of change, but probably about a quarter of what DDDB needs every year to take on Ratner. It's a third of what Ratner paid to invent a grassroots organisation that would support him. And probably a fraction of what Ratner, his company and his management throw around every election cycle. Let's assue that having spent these vast sums to bring his land grab to fruition, Ratner suddenly decides tomorrow to move back to Cleveland and pretend it never happned. DDDB has two options. Spend the rest of the money on series of lawsuits to see of there is anyway to force Ratner to compensate us for the time money and Sunday afternoons we've spent taking him on. Or spend the money on a colossal party. Really we don't mind so long as the bastard stops trying to turn our neighborhood into Metrotech part 2."

But we went to Half instead. Sorry, Matt.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sudafed For Cars

At last, a story where we can pretend to offer some kind of specialised insight, even though, in point of fact, we do not really have that much first-hand experience. We refer, of course, to the recent proposal to introduce congestion charging in New York City, or lower and middle Manhattan to be precise.

Hooray!, we thought, given that we have lived in both London, where the concept was first developed, and New York, although, truth be told we have little personal experience of the introduction of congestion charging. But we know a fair amount more about it than some commenters. It's fairly easy to factor in exemptions for cabs, small business owners, and residents, so the thing resembles nothing so much as a commuter tax.

Moreover, by explicitly linking the revenues from the scheme to improvements to commuter rail (say, a rail link to JFK), it might be easier to sell to upstaters than a commuter tax. Or spend the money on buses, which have been the main beneficiary of the London congestion charge, and which are much easier to upgrade than subways (our personal opinion is that the London Tube, owing to the construction methods of the Victorians, is beyond redemption).

But, and here we will note the biggest problem, New York is a far more cohesive city than London, despite the huge numbers of bridges and tunnels reequired to feed it. There are 24-hour subways, which don't charge more for people living in the less wweaalthy ares to come to the centre. And there are the large number of service businesses located in the outer Boroughs.

Don't get us wrong, we hate drivers, particularly the selfish and clueless ones. But the other genius of New York - hyper-responsive local politicians - makes it much less likely that congestion charging will fly. The Outer Borough power brokers are going to shoot it down, in a way that the London political system makes much less likely. Now, screwing the suburban types? That definitely has legs.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Like Jerzy Balowski, Only Pleasant.

So, it is a tad late, and we're typing this with one hand (the other is on Cutesome), But we must write the review. And it must be untraceable like Pablo's fifties.

We went to go see Landlord at the request of an oblivious associate from dayjobland, who serves as their manager. So as to minimise the paper trail we shall let the venue remain unnamed.

Which is a pity, because the ancillary details that attach themselves to this night of nerd rock are rather illuminating. Particularly DJ Mojo.. But fitting, because Landlor'd's music is oddly without context.

Not that they're without references, resembling nothing so much as a potent fusion of of Midnight Oil and the Cure. We wouldn't settle for the references if it was up to us, but they pull it off well, and the slightly-sublimated Clash-worship comes out now and then, and is pretty prevalent once they get warmed up.

Yes, the singer does channel Robert Smith too much, yes, they do dress like NYU sophomores, yes they do want to think about swearing at the audience more, and yes, their songs do all sound like the urgent plaintive second to last song on the album.

But those songs are the good songs, and they are just about passionate enough to pull them off. they certainly benefited from the attentions of the venue's sound man. The band that followed, a shambolic art rock skronkfiesta, was much more our cup of tea, but wasn't executed with much warmth. and landlord, well they've got that, and they're au courant enough to make it danceable.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Send Me An Angel In The Morning

Is Fitty a rapper who wants to be a Chippendale, or a Chippendale that wants to be a rapper? We'll answer the question later, but had to pose it now so that it's next to the picture.

Not really a great need to recount the fiasco from yesterday. We're sure that all over the nation Democrats are rejoicing over their ability to connect with the hinterland, and meanwhile their party in New York is an utter bloody mess. Yay Democrats!

Kwame held on in Detroit, after an impressive burst of campaigning in the final days before the election. The narrative now is that the guy is learning from his mistakes. Our prediction - another bumper couple of years for realtors in Auburn Hills.

We caught 50 Cent on NY1 this morning, and the comedy gold was coming up from the vaults by the ton. The interviewer was, naturally, the epically muddled Neil Rosen, quite plainly terrified to be on the same interview set as Fitty. The fact that the NY1 sound goblin was running things from New Jersey, and had neglected to mic up Rosen, made the little fella sound even more querulous than normal.

"Unm, so, Mr. Cent, is this like what Eminem did, the whole rapper hooking up with a famous director that maybe doesn't have a background in rap?" Fitty smiled mirthlessly. "No, I'm doing this my own way, although I respect what Eminem did." Which is true, Eminem made this weirdly gripping story of how brute talent can overcome a shitty attitude, humble origins and the Curse Of Vanilla Ice. Fitty got shot, has large abdominal muscles, and sings like a girl.

Which was where Neil Rosen now stumbles into his next question. "So what's this with the feuding? I mean, I don't know much about rap, but the thing with Ja Rule and Fat Joe, is that part of the game?" At which point, Rosen, terrified that he might have stepped over some invisible line unknown to mediocre film reviewers, leaned forward onto the balls of his feet. "Well, they're not as talented," said Fitty, and who was Rosen to argue? "They're not here talking to you." Which is true, Ja Rule has made many stupid decisions during his career, not least among them hiring Lizzie Grubman as a publicist, but courting a half hour of Neil Rosen's time is not one of them.

We could end this with a rant about how NYC's rappers are as pitiful as its Democrats, link this all up with the rise of Houston, both its politics and its shiny-toothed rap, and then pray for Biggie to come back down and make it all better. Illustrate it all with a tune stolen from Miguel. But that would be wrong.

So we'll post something from the disgustingly rare Bonus 7" that Sebadoh made in the early 90s. The one in our position quite literally fell out of a vinyl copy of Bubble And Scrape (one of a thousand, apparently), and took us absolutely ages to render as an mp3. Was it worth the wait? Probably not, although no-one ever lost credibility by overestimating sections of the public's enthusiasm for discordant low-fi noodlings.

Sebadoh - "Part 1 (Lou)" (although we're prepared to be corrected)
You can't find this ANYWHERE. Mwah-Hah-Hah-Hah! But send some money Lou Barlow's way, even though he can sometimes be a bit of a dick.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This Just Off

For want of anything better to do on a miserable schoolnight, the results, liveblogged from NY1:

Bloomberg's called by the AP as winner of the mayoral race - 56-41 - over Ferrer, with 26% of the precincts reporting. His party has an open bar. He didn't win by the 30 points the polls predicted, at least on current results

Tish James got re-elected in City Council district 38, this time round on the Democratic line. 82%. Nice work, Tish.

Marty "revolting hack" Markowitz looks like getting about 82% for Brooklyn Borough President, which is OK, but not great, given all the hacks that got swept in tonight. Mattera got 7%, behind the Republican, who got 11%.

Betsy Gotbaum, worst public advocate ever, got back in with 89%. God that's horrible. The woman can barely function.

The Transportation Bond proposition is coming through with about 54%. CASH MONEY will be raised for the East Side Subway.

This weird and inexplicable proposal to hand NY State's budget-making powers to the utterly useless state legislature, and away from the governor, got voted down. Good - we hate Governor Pataki as much as the next man, but the helplessly gerrymandered state assembly is hardly Batman.

So, what's the kitten for? Well, in theory it's to keep Cutesome company tonight, although we could probably all do with a kitten right now.

This Pot's Got A Beef

A little post designed for the benefit of our English readers.

Look, do you see what we have to deal with over here? Not content with having mobile telephones that are good at neither making calls nor entertaining us, not content with an inability to make decent sandwiches in advance of one's entry into the store (thus forcing one to coverse with the food preparers), but one of the premier electronic news and opinion outlets in the US has just discovered that heating up water using a superheated electrical element might be a faster way of boiling it than bathing a lump of tin in flame, and waiting for the heat to reach the water.

As the author notes, US voltage, being lower, erases some of the advantages, and we suspect that the process probably consumes a bit more energy, but given the American love of gagetry and speed, the absence of decent electrical kettles from US households is mystifying. And before you point out that Americans all have coffee machines, and do not drink instant coffee like you disgusting Limeys, true, very true. But if the US household does not have more than about three uses for boiling water in any given day, we'd be gobsmacked.


Perhaps we should try and distract you from that intemperate and hackneyed rant with a post of music. New York City does indeed face an election today, a choice between a pretty able and revoltingly rich Republican and a pleasant but possibly compromised Democrat. No whoops, and while it is always good to punish Republicans for being wrong, we'll get over it. Hell, we might even prosper.

Not so the poor sods in Detroit. As the mighty detroitblog puts it, the city is in imminent danger of a takeover, as well as the flight of all of its prosperous citizens, black or white, if the wrong guy gets in. The post is laced with a discussion of racial politics that we don't feel comfortable, or brave enought, to convey properly - we'll note only that both candidates are black. And we'll quote a paragraph here:

"This is pure self-defeatism, and it’s what has defined politics in Detroit for decades. When you vote not for qualifications but out of spite, you get the highest poverty rate in the country. When you vote based on race rather than responsibility, you get 15,000 people a year fleeing the city. When you vote to spite the suburbs, the suburbs get wealthier and the city gets poorer. When you vote for “our” mayor instead of our real interests, the city goes broke."

We don't know the city of Detroit that well, but we know the suburbs, and always find it deeply depressing to conceive of the greater Metro area as a series of prosperous and well-kept suburbs sprouting around a deaying core. Cities shouldn't be like that. Make 'em dangerous, surely, but make 'em busy, or they lose the point. Scott Morgan understood that, and we think The Hellacopters understood that too, even though they came from Sweden.

The Hellacopters - "16 With A Bullet"
Buy Cream Of The Crap, Vol. 2 Here, and Buy "Scots Pirates", home of the original, here

Panic Lever

Since today's election day, we had hoped to do a little voter guide for you, give you a hint to the most important statewide and citywide races, maybe even throw in some more local ones. But instead we spent an evening perfecting the recording of Sebadoh's Bubble And Scrape. Which explains in a nutshell why John Kerry lost in 2004 to a monkeyman.

It is probably for the best that we do not try to influence the fair voters of New York City too much, if only because foreign bloggers are probably not covered by that many constitutional protections. Moreover, we still haven't made up our mind on whether it's a good idea to let this gazillionaire buy the election over a decent guy that happens to have had to get to this point courtesy of the Democratic Party machinery. Doubtless the institutional faults of the Dems will not get much of an airing tonight.

For New York City mayor, then, we endorse Fernando Ferrer over Michael Bloomberg, even if it might encourage his party colleagues to continue being useless. For Brooklyn Borough president, we endorse Gloria Mattera of the Green Party, for the reason that it's what this blog was set up to do. Her opponent is some clown called Markowitz.

Right, democracy sorted, and back to the indie rock. Our correspondent brings us this from last night's dEUS show in London.

"To the Empire in London's horrible Shepherd's Bush area for a night of alternative rock with dEUS. They did a few too many dirge-like, groovy ones from the Ideal Crash and the new one but when they caught fire my trousers were singed. They played Instant Street third song which had people screaming with joy. Other high points were Theme from Turnpike and Worst Case Scenario. Roses was so good that you wished they had saved it for later. It was on the encores that they really came together. They played Talk About Love which is the best thing on the new album, then Little Arithmetic and finally Suds and Soda. When that manic violin started the whole place went mental."

Or delightful stringer then added "You must catch them. They looked really pleased to be back". Very true. Unfortunately, dEUS do not even release records in America these days, so we may have to settle for being frustrated.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Ban This Sick Beep Now

Ban This Sick Beep Now
Originally uploaded by Gringcorp.
Many of you, particularly those that do not live in Brooklyn, but also those of you that live in Brooklyn but deserve to have your home flattened, will find it difficult to understand just what it is about Marty Markowitz that disgusts us so.

Here's what. It came through the mail today (um, apologies to the Cutesome, who is the citizen to which it is addressed). The man's slogan is "As Brooklyn As They Come", and if that does not make you want to send a horde of pestilential ninjas round his place to rub themselves against his bedclothes, we don't know what would.

Still, it's not all negativity. here's a tune for you, Cutesome. We hope it gets easier. Mwah!

Nunchuks So Could Be a Real Instrument

While in general we steer clear from "Americans-Are-From-Mars-Limeys-Are-From-Neon-Hued-Sex-Planet" observations, there is one holiday from the old country we miss a little. Not the Queen's birthday, nor the anniversary of Tranfalgar, both in their own way useful (the old biddy's advancing age, the opportunity to rile the French), but hardly essential.

No, we reference bonfire night, and a spectacularly sordid affair it is too. Cultural observers far smarter than we are apt to claim that American enthusiasm for Halloween relative to the British is in some way proof of a side to the american character both darker and more imaginative.

Lost in the exegesis is the fact that the Brits by and large don't care, because they have a much better holiday exactly a week later. This one does not involve dressing up, and instead involves the outdoors and lots of explosions. It is largely secular, and almost republican, although the holiday's origins lie in both religious and monarchical strife.

You're not going to get a better explanation of the day than fafblog. Alright, Wikipedia'll do. But really all you need to know is that a group of disgruntled, but probably genuinely aggrieved, Catholics tried to blow up not just the King, but all of parliament.

They failed, but succeeded near as dammit at establishing anti-Catholicism as official part of English public life for the next couple of hundred years. It's one reason why there's a parade of worthless "constitutional historians" onto the news whenever Tony Blair takes mass with his missus. This is not entirely unfounded. The pope was apparently aware of what was going on, and if not him, then at least his servants the Jesuits.

Still, in general, one's enthusiasm for bonfire night increases the further north one gets. Southerners are apt to downplay the whole sordid affair, while northerners, often starved for light and entertainment, embrace the explosions with gusto. Meanwhile, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, they unleash a day of hate against the Pope, Catholics, and anyone else they think might get in the way of being dour and intolerant.

We're sad we missed the expensive recent ITV re-enactment. This is the sort of public service exploding to which our children need more exposure. But we're sure that Ian Paisley Tivo'd it. Oh yes.

Housekeeping. Dear nolandgrab. Please do not ever ever ever link to Russ Smith's columns in the NY Press. The man is not your friend, even if he does hate the Times.

Dear Todd Barry, you were very droll at Southpaw last night. As a reward, we will simply say, on the internet, that your pants were too tight. There. Happy?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Dave Mustaine Stalks The Earth

So, a wee bit later than planned (we've been at the dust bunnies), here's a little note on the Nine Inch Nails show we saw at Madison Square Garden. And what we have to say concerns more our tortured relationship with industrial music than any eternal truths about the chops of the band at live performance.

See, this was the first show we ever saw at a stadium*, the reasons having entirely to do with our rock snobbery and the fact that earlier in our rock appreciation career we had no money. We ended up buying pretty ropey tickets from the b*stards, fairly high up and exactly level with the stage. The advantages of the perch would be immediately apparent to anyone wanting to smoke anything. We didn't, although we were very taken by the gourmet hotdog stand outside.

Missed Death From Above 79, which was a pity based on the tune of theirs we downloaded. Queens Of The Stone Age were fine, although the only song worth losing one's sh*t to remains "I Think I Lost My Headache">

NIN came on to "Pinion", as was their wont when we saw them back in Brixton in 1999. Otherwise they opened with the incoherent squally ones from the new album, With Teeth, perked up for the older ones, and persisted with the whole prog rock curtain interlude in the middle of the show. It served only to highlight the strengths of "Beside You In Time".

But got damn were we tired, too tired almost to endure the prog interlude, and certainly too tired to endure the parade of ballads that persisted beyond then. Listening to "Hurt" was the final straw - we probably left a good ten minutes before the end, which means we probably missed "The Hand That Feeds", "Head Like A Hole" and maybe "We're In This Together". No, we haven't googled the setlist. We've been sleeping.

And watching Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster. The film has been hailed as some kind of psychological triumph, an unflinching look at the group dynamic and the ennui that afflicts the very rich. It's simpler than that, and one look at the final scene, a blistering reappearance at a festival, confirms this. How do you make incredibly savage metal when you're more successful and content than you ever imagined?

The answer is, you make Reload recruit Marianne Faithfull on vocals and get roundly mocked. And then sit down and think how to keep your fans happy around trips to rehab and funk-metal gigs. Top appearance from ginger and whiny former guitarist Dave Mustaine, after whom this post is titled.

Tonight, we rock Prohibition and Floyd. We'll be the blonde ones in crushed velvet.

*As long as one doesn't count seeing Sarah Maclachlan in a corporate box, as well as the two shows we saw down at Keyspan Park in Coney Island.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Oh, We Missed The Apple

We were slurping down healthy and nutritious yoghurt in front of the television when an advert for the verdant tropical paradise of Tahiti appeared. "Oh, that reminds me," sez Cutesome, "Marty Markowitz has a campaign ad running on TV - I caught it yesterday just before this advert." Not good. "Argh!" we scream, "how did the sacred and the scatalogically profane become so entwined in your sweet little mind? How could you associate the majestic beauty of Bora Bora with the disgraceful scumclown foisted on our fair Borough by the Democratic machine? Scrub your brain, or go into mental reprogramming. Better yet, smoke this drain cleaner. We can take away the pain."

So, after Cutesome exits, pursued by a flaming tube of Comet, we settle down to watch NY1. And the advert appears. Marty Markowitz, president of a Borough that would be one of the top ten cities in the US in its own right, is using amateur slapstick to persuade us to vote for him.

One of his friends has gamely decided to babble Marty's achievement's over an abridged version of the William Tell Overture. The video is heavy on Marty's televised stunts and South Brooklyn landmarks. Nary a mention of Marty's new pet stadium project, even though the plans apparently look rilly cool.

What we do get are shots of Marty getting his blood pressure taken, and one of him not wearing a top. Which means that we too, will now have to scramble our brains with a hefty drag on the drain cleaner can. The advert provides proof positive that Marty apparently revels in this description of his time in the State Senate in the New Yorker:

In Albany, he was better known for bringing bagels, dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day, to the Senate chamber than for any legislative innovations

It's fairly certain that by including the maximum number of children possible in the ad, as well as getting his friend with the stranged voice to yelp "schools" and "jobs" every now and then, he is reinforcing his reputation as a genial and harmless booster in the minds of less serious voters. Still it's a sodding horrible ad.

Coming up, the NIN review.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A House Is Not A Hotel, But Hotels Can Sometimes Become Houses, You Filthy Developer Scum

We'd like to pretend that we'd been the recipient of absolutely hundreds of emails begging that we resume regular and witty posting urgently. Such missives are every blogger's dream, although they should not be courted too assiduously. But we didn't get any. Instead our Sitemeter went south. So here we are, with a mixed bag of housekeeping and half-formed observations.

First up, we have our most varied and unpleasant column yet up at Sugarzine. We also persuaded them to give us a link, so if you've come over from their site, and are part of their claimed thousands in readership, then hello. It's a pleasure to dump some even less well-formed opinions on you.

We've had a quite delicious time of late turning the phrase "50 Cent is a Republican stooge" over in our head. Courtesy of Mr Gilliard, we learn that Fitty is so desperate to contrive a beef with a more talented rapper that he'll stick up for the Bush clan while doing so. Well in response to the intelligent and fun to listen to Kanye "George Bush Don't Like Black People" West, he said :

"The New Orleans disaster was meant to happen. It was an act of God."

Which means that he has decided that it's time to go to war with someone other than those with better beats and voices than him, and kick it off with Him Upstairs. We can't wait to see the useless bastard running aimlessly through the streets of Jamaica, Queens (where he's from, and not the Bronx, Mr. Younge-clown), chased by every other rapper and the Almighty.

In other news, Prince Charles was seen in town and apart from catching the end of his appearance on 60 Minutes we might as well have been in Mongolia, for all of the relevance the event had to us. If neither Charles not his new hatchet-faced bride sees fit to impart anything of interest to us the general public, beyond what they had for dinner, they should probably be relegated to the back of the celebrity queue, or at least definitely behind TomKat.

Still, if they were to educate us more about ther personal causes, let's just pray that they would not spout off as poorly as poor Lemmy. Lemmy has recently decided to appear at the Welsh Assembly to tell kids not to take drugs. We shall let the Guardian's newsblog take over:

{Lemmy] got himself thrown out of one rock band (Hawkwind) for drug possession and started another (Motorhead) whose eponomous paean to amphetamine sulphate contained the lyrics "I should be tired / And all I am is wired". He drinks huge amounts of Jack Daniels, was introduced to LSD by his former employer Jimi Hendrix and this year told the Mirror he had a lifestyle that "would kill most people"

We've all know liberal Dads that say "a little bit of pot's OK, just leave it there. It'll make you very boring, the other ones will f*** you up a bit more." But a Dad that says "do what you like, just stay away from the skag" is one that only a ketamine dealer could admire. That said, we should probably be more harsh on the assembly member who brought him there, William Graham, than Lemmy. Lemmy will, we hope, be admirably consistent, but Graham has joined a dwindling band thought only to include Carnaby Street leather merchants these days, people who think Lemmy is a good advertisement for anything.

Right, time to hang with the mighty NIN. In the meantime, here's the me likey (sans mp3s):

The Living Things - Ahead Of The Lions. Yes, we were sceptical too. We had feared a weird combination of My Chemical Romance and Chumbawumba. Instead we get an only slightly overproduced, but very Australian-sounding rocking bunch of garage scuzz about injustice and war. We've never really been that into lyrics, but the music is like what you were hoping for after reading reviews of Jet, the Datsuns, The Vines, and all those other antipodean rock crews that couldn't quite walk the walk. Maybe the curse of the Saints is over. Not, we might add, that they're from Down Under.

The Forty-Fives - High Life High Volume. There's definitely room for a horntastic rock and rock band since Rocket From the Crypt split up. This lot might be pussies, but they have the surf thing down much better. We're undecided, but only in relative terms wary. In absolute terms you should be setting totalitarian hymns to this.

In the immortal words of Sympathy For The Record Industry, "You've sampled the rest, now f*** off".

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Move Over Jayhova

It has been a while, yes. And we have decided that we should not unleash post today without it being in support of any clear objective. Remind you of anything? Very political, as Ben Elton would say.

Look, we'll get up a head of righteous anger soon, we promise. In the mean time, here's a new, er, head shot.