January 31, 2003

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was gonna try to get to the Film Forum this week for Rosemary's Baby (which I'd always wanted to see in a crowded theater lousy with hip, in-on-the-joke New Yorkers), and this evening I went to the last screening on the last night of the limited run. The experience was a blast -- the audience was as giddy and animated as a typical Rocky Horror gathering.

There are so many reasons why I love this movie:

-The set design of Rosemary's apartment doesn't make a single attempt to be "mod," even though she and her husband are upwardly mobile and with-it thirtysomethings. The furniture, carpeting, linen, and drapery are all drab and conservative -- olive green, gingham, washed-out yellow, dark brown. It's like walking into the apartment of a now-elderly couple who moved there in 1965 and never changed a thing.

-The building itself (the infamous Dakota). I've had several nightmares that have taken place in buildings just like this -- dark, musty, cavernous, tony but slightly decrepit, with doormen and elevator men and eccentric neighbors -- and that old-school blueblooded Upper West Side stateliness that I've always envied. It's also quintessential white-New York-in-the-sixties: very Neil Simon, very Laura Nyro.

-Rosemary and Guy have sex a lot -- which works for the movie because [a] it's so obvious that Polanski was shooting for both "pervy-European-realism" and "American free-luv, baby" and [b] they're such a creepy couple that there's a certain element of horror in the idea of them getting it on.

-The dated language! The dated everything! Rosemary giggling like a schoolgirl at the mere thought of "marijuana"! The swingin' house party (with a cameo by Sharon Tate) where the minidresses and false eyelashes Rosemary's girlfriends wear are pretty much the only hint of chic-couture in the movie at all! Rosemary's Jean Seberg/Twiggy haircut -- "I've been to Vidal Sassoon: It's the in thing"! The title of the play Guy starred in: Nobody Loves An Albatross! The fact that in 1960s New York, theatre was this really hip pastime! The fact that Guy is John Cassavetes! And Rosemary is Mia Farrow! The word "dietary"! Anagrams via Scrabble! A store specializing in rare books! A taxicab! Affectionate ass-slapping! Ruth Gordon! DUDE, MAUDE IS A SATANIST. (And look, there's a young Charles Grodin, speaking out in hushed disgust against those "maniacs" who practice witchcraft!) The Goblinesque eerie theme music! "Fur Elise" as a recurring motif! Before it became a piano-class cliche!!

Forgive me, I'm still beaming.

January 28, 2003

New mp3s up, and I hope you all take advantage of these three hotttt disco trax (they'll be up for a week, or until I decide to put up new ones). My room is small and cluttered with books and CDs and clothes, but I've managed to find about two square feet where my own square feet can do their business. Right before I sat down to type this, I was having a go at Azoto's "San Salvador" (Rams Horn, 1980) -- oh, you know, exotic abandon, rattlesnake percussion, hustle strings, piano block chords played off the beat, falsettos, a chorus that sounds like a thoroughly dated tourism campaign. Sigh.

January 27, 2003

Freaking cold? The Non-Expert has some tips on staying warm. Best one: "Slaughter and cannibalize Greenpeace volunteers, smearing their thigh and buttock fat on your loins for insulation." (Via my favorite new site, Gawker.)

January 26, 2003

This is interesting: a list of the musical guests at every single Super Bowl for the past 37 years. (Via ILX.)

(NB: Music yay, sports boo.)

January 25, 2003

Haha okay yeah I'm "freezing to death." It's 5:30 and I haven't been able to sleep because it's too fucking cold. I've been drinking tea and eating microwave popcorn to stay warm. This is no good. I've got a space heater but I'm terrified to use it; last time I did it got a noxious electrical smell just from being plugged in a few minutes. I'm such a pussy about this cold weather. I keep saying I'm gonna go see this show or that movie (Charming Hostess at Tonic, Rosemary's Baby at the Film Forum), and you know I don't. Tonight there's some party I'm thinking of crashing. If I make it out of the house it'll be a miracle. If I don't...

At the moment I'm downloading Elvis Costello's Blood and Chocolate. This is a record I've had on tape for quite a few years -- it was given to me by a friend when he upgraded to the CD, and since it was one of his very favorite albums, he couldn't wait to share it with me. And it's great stuff; I'm sure I know it backwards and forwards from all the times I've played it. But I misplaced the tape. It happens. I'm disorganized.

Deep deep down I am (despite attempts to be anything but that) a fool for a singer-songwriter. At various times in my life I've fancied myself a "singer" and a "writer" and I've even taken a few cracks at being a "songwriter." I envy people who can make the words fit the tunes; moreso, I am in awe of songwriters who CRAM the words into the tunes like a zealous traveler whose suitcase is stuffed to the bursting point. Elvis Costello is such a songwriter. He's totally full of himself, and that's awesome. He's alternately one of the best arguments for and against the Lyric Nazis -- language is such a fun and joyous and philosophical thing, but OY does Costello get indulgent. Sure it's fun to watch him trip over his tongue when a phrase has too much going on, but (as the opposition states) whatever is so wrong with music that's simple, spare, and to borrow a title from one of Blood and Chocolate's less difficult songs, "uncomplicated"? I give Costello the benefit of the doubt; there are enough simpletons out there. I'm a word-nerd. People like me need heroes, pompous and overachieving though they might be.

However, some music fans reach a certain age and they decide they don't want to be one of those insufferable bores who yap away at parties (and on message boards) about "songcraft" and "pop sensibility" as if there were no more to a well-conceived song than a clever lyric and and some jazz-twat chord changes. And they're right. I followed suit and shoved all that to the back of the CD drawer in favor of the youf culcha and their bangin' choons. Let Nick Hornby have his "Alison," I figured.

But now, just as alcoholics never truly dry up, I've got the hankering again for ol' Declan and his bitter twists of phrase and awful puns and falsetto that sounds like the dregs of the toothpaste being strangled from the empty tube. I blame SoulSeek for making this fall from grace all too easy -- accessibility is nine tenths of the law.

January 23, 2003

So, my dream. I had just gotten a part-time job in one of our fine Manhattan skyscrapers. I was to be (drumroll please) Martha Stewart's executive assistant. What I didn't realize until showing up there my first day was that the building was monstrous and labyrinthine. It had hundreds of floors -- and no elevator, just a bank of slow-moving escalators. Some coworkers offered to show me around. The lobbies on each floor were plush-carpeted and wood-paneled, a fire hazard to be sure. But most businesses were long gone. This was clearly an egregious piece of 1970s planned obsolescence that persevered past its life span like a decaying zombie. I'd seen dead malls before, but in the financial capital of the world, a dead office building was rare. Several stories had their own concession stand/food court, movie-theater style, but they'd all gone out of business and left their equipment and signage behind. The lighting was dim and many bulbs were burned out; I pitied the superintendents who had to keep the house in order. I was told that there had been security problems in the past -- rapes, murders, unwanted visits from the criminal element.

On the bottom floor was a musty old fabric store run by a haggard Korean woman; the sun streamed in through her ground-level windows and the view of the street was a merciful antidote to the death-vortex interior.

My coworkers had vanished by the time I hit the street. It was lunchtime and I went off to meet a friend. But I strayed too far, and ended up in a blue-collar beach town on the Jersey shore. I saw someone I knew -- an old college acquaintance (played in this dream by Justin Timberlake) that I'd spent the past few years trying to avoid. Just like old times, he started harassing me, following me around even though I made it known that I didn't want to talk to him. I had to get back to work, but oops, I didn't bring the address with me. No matter; I'd find it. Justin followed me the whole way.

I found the building, finally, two hours later. But I couldn't remember which floor, which suite number, and I had to ride the maddeningly slow escalators up and down, prowling each hallway looking for a sign on the door that would bring me back to Martha Stewart's office. Someone else saw Justin and pointed him out to me as the serial rapist who'd haunted the building many times before; they'd catch him and like a ghost he'd come right back. An eavesdropper yelled "RAPIST" and soon the entire building (entire = maybe seventeen people) was up in arms, screaming, running, panicking, alarms going off. This must have distracted him, because I was able to make my way back to my office pretty quickly after that. Everything there was calm, placid, and white; no one had any idea that I'd been missing for hours and the staff seemed oblivious to the chaos outside.

End of dream.

January 21, 2003

Sorry about rolling out my internet radio station only to have it go down over the holiday weekend. As promised, it's back up now, with five hours' worth of songs set to play in random order. Do have a listen! (And thanks to No Rock & Roll Fun and Largehearted Boy for letting the world know.)

VH1 is showing a special called "The Fabulous Life of Jennifer Lopez." The subject is Miss Souf Bronx and her money -- how much she has ("she could buy eight more mansions and pay in cash"), how much she spends, everything she spends it on. It's not unusual for the celebrity industry to toot its own diamond-encrusted horn, but it's pretty interesting to see VH1, which loves and dotes on its stars, airing something so expository and tabloidy about an artist/cash cow who's young, beautiful, at the top of her game, and for most pop fans decidedly Not A Joke (cf. Michael Jackson, or worse, any of the cavalcade of one-hit wunderkinds whose heads are reguarly dunked in the pop-culture toilet for chart-bully amusement).

January 20, 2003

Last night I braved the elements and went to see Luomo (a/k/a Vladislav Delay) with Geeta, Jen, and Matos at a somewhat-new Ludlow St. club called Pianos (the place steals its name from its prior signage -- it used to be a piano shop). Luomo's followup to the swank-yet-subtle microhouse touchstone Vocalcity comes out this year, and most of what he played at this show was (great) new material, with a few exceptions -- like "The Present Lover" (which brought the house down) and "Tessio." It should also be noted that Delay is a helluva sexy guy; normally I don't go for the wispy-albino look, but this man looks like a swishy, introverted Finnish porn star, with muscles begging to burst out of his slight, translucent-skinned frame, and a tank top to show it all off. Rowr.

January 18, 2003

John Darnielle's essay on "Yesterday Once More" coincides with the Carpenters phase I've been stuck in since I watched Todd Haynes' Superstar a few nights ago. Me, I was thinking of writing somefink on their cover of Klaatu's "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft." Watch this space.

January 17, 2003

It had to happen: my own internet radio station, The Nuclear Bunker. Favorite songs, passing flirtations, etc. I am now officially the most annoying person on earth. (Update: This is gonna be down for a few days while I straighten out some billing business with my CREDIT CARD COMPANY -- argh, and on a holiday weekend, no less -- but it should be back online Tuesdayish.)

Just in case you're finding all the Icy Hot Stuntaz mockery kinda played out... I give you upstate New York's very own Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets. (Also check out their Tunes page!)

January 16, 2003

No, I didn't write anything for the new Southside Callbox (which rhymes with "smallpox" and "Paul Cox"). I wanted to; I tried to; I may very well try again. I've not yet approached the subject of bootlegs with as much clarity and insight/foresight/hindsight as I've been wanting to. But I'm feeling sort of dumb right now and I'd rather give full credit for Issue 12 to the fabulous cast of maniacs who wrote and/or contributed to these great pieces. Thanks so much, guys.

January 14, 2003

News on the Dylan front -- the singer's upcoming film Masked & Anonymous premieres at Sundance next week and has just been picked up for North American distribution by Sony Pictures Classics. Billboard also tells us that Sony Music has plans to release 15 Bob Dylan albums (including Highway 61 Revisited, Nashville Skyline, Blood on the Tracks, Time Out of Mind, and Love and Theft) on the new Super Audio CD (SACD) format this fall. Great news; his back catalog's crying out for a remastering. But isn't it a little premature/sneaky to rerelease something as recent as Love and Theft (which came out in September 2001)? Can I just walk into Tower and trade my old one in, or do I have to spend eighteen additional dollars for an upgrade on a record that already sounds great?

News on the Strummer front -- Epic/Legacy has a new Clash anthology (yeah, another one) in the works. It's called Essential Clash -- 2 CDs, 40 songs, and oh fucking boy they just wasted no time with this one. As rush-job best-ofs go, though, Essential Clash looks pretty ace.

What's the connection here? I've been listening to the Dylan Live 1975 set a lot lately, and I'm noticing that on quite a few songs, his voice takes on a very rough, raspy, Joe Strummer-ish quality. The Clash hadn't formed yet (not til '76, right?) so there's no way the punk could have influenced the godfather -- but I wonder if Strummer got to catch Bob at any point on the Rolling Thunder tour.

January 13, 2003

Who holds back the electric car? Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star? We do!

January 11, 2003

Don't punch me, sassy boxer!

January 10, 2003

The wonderful Thomas Inskeep on the wonderful Trevor Horn.

January 09, 2003

Aw, bless. (Thanks, Hoffman!)

I don't have a lot to say about music right now. I'm a tad burned out from the end-of-2002 madness, so I haven't been listening to much (haha; for me "not much" is still twice the amount of any normal person). But hey -- I finally heard t.A.T.u.'s "How Soon Is Now"! I think I like it, or at least the bizarre fact of its existence (it's the bleak, fatalistic Smiths kid-goth manifesto/pityparty, covered by two teenage Russian lesbian pop stars) (maybe you didn't hear me: two teenage Russian lesbian pop stars). But more urgent and key: The flangey intro of the t.A.T.u. song, a tribute to that same part in the Smiths original, sounds more to my ears like the flangey intro of Pink's cynical, self-flagellating "Don't Let Me Get Me," and I'm just stunned and overjoyed at how much sense that makes.

January 08, 2003

I am not Jody Rosen. No, really. That's not hamhanded existentialism. I am in fact not he. I'm not even a "he." Hope this clears up any lingering confusion.

January 07, 2003

Anyone who knows me knows that I eat this kinda shit up like a Christmas cookie. It's Gawker, a "Manhattan weblog magazine edited by Elizabeth Spiers, designed by Jason Kottke and published by Nick Denton. It is a live review of city news, and by news we mean, among other things, urban dating rituals, no-ropes social climbing, Condé Nastiness, downwardly-mobile i-bankers, real estate porn -- the serious stuff." A warning, though: The site's a real resource-hog, and it crashed my browser twice. (Via TMFTML.)

January 06, 2003

Aaaaaaaaaand if you're not totally sick of TEH 8EAZ, you might take comfort in the return of Star Search to the airwaves. (Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

January 04, 2003

I've just discovered the online version of Rock & Roll JEOPARDY!. That settles it; I'm never leaving the house again. My high score after three games? $50,800.

Addendum: Mere hours later, my high score is $90,400. Woulda been higher, but I screwed up one of the Daily Doubles and lost all my money.

January 02, 2003

Binghamton, New York.

Central Park.

Somebody please make Nate Patrin famous RIGHT NOW.