February 28, 2003

Top Ten:
1) Exposé's Exposure
2) Dreyer's Dreamery Tiramisu ice cream
3) Jimmy Webb's "Up, Up, and Away" and "Wichita Lineman"
4) the remote control, for turning the TV off
5) Tales of Gaslight New York
6) the new, clean, illo-free design of Barnes & Noble's shopping bags
7) The Jacksons' "Blame It On the Boogie"
8) Paul Oratofsky's "NYsCenes" photography exhibit at Chelsea Market
9) The one-two punch of La Traviata's chicken parmigiana hero and garden salad w/ vinaigrette
10) happy hour at Art Bar

Bottom Ten:
1) MSNBC giving Phil Donahue the axe
2) the smoking ban
3) the lingering pain of losing my favorite local Szechuan restaurant to some clueless Asian-fusion idiots who are gonna run the place into the ground in two months (thanks a lot, assholes)
4) every thoughtless schmuck who rides a bicycle down a crowded street in New York City
5) Flaky Nerve mentalists
6) missing sleep to avoid oversleeping
7) Powweb's clunky, Hotmailesque new webmail interface
8) love, and the lack of it
9) the phrase "my coffee" as used to describe an abstract daily necessity
10) the not-quite-boring-not-quite-interesting CD that came with February's Uncut

February 27, 2003

Brooklyn Brownstone: a name even I'm jealous of, holding court in Brownstone Brooklyn and living in a goddamn apartment building.

February 25, 2003

Another thing I finally got around to doing: I added a new batch of songs (over 4 hours' worth, in fact) to Nuclear Bunker Radio. The "this station plays tracks like" menu needs to switch over to reflect the changed playlist, so until Live365's little bot-widget does that (tomorrow?), the main page is inaccurate. I programmed these songs to play randomly -- the order of a given set is never the same each time (allowing for the creation of unplanned segues with their own kabbalistic internal logic), and the 100MB playlist broadcasts continuously from beginning to end, looping back again each time with a new track order, regardless of whether anyone's listening or not. It's fun! Please tune in.

New mp3s up on the sidebar too -- yeah, you know all these, but feel free to nostalgiate to 'em all over again.

February 24, 2003

dave q, come to New York. We'll shoot meth and take turns playing Angry Samoans and Samantha Fox singles and throw empty Rheingold cans off the fire escape at passing cars for a whole wonderful lost weekend. Pretty please...

Yes, the new Southside Callbox is finally up. Highlight: me going batshit insane for some reason.

February 20, 2003

I owe you an update, don't I? Been busy w/ real-life pursuits, but... new SSCB coming soon (tonight this weekend, I promise), a new Nuclear Bunker Radio playlist also coming soon, and other fun stuff, hopefully. Peace and big love to ya --JBR.

February 16, 2003

The Midnight Society is a great "weird New Jersey"/"abandoned places" site I stumbled across while looking for information on the long-gone Jamesway superstores of the '80s. (Couldn't find much on Jamesway, but my Google search did yield an entry on this abandoned Lakewood motel.)

The Midnight Society also pays tribute to a staple of my childhood and a source of much of my Jersey envy, Larison's Turkey Farm (which closed up shop a few years ago but seems to have reopened, if their home page is to be believed) and its scary wooden Indians and taxidermied bears. My parents and I drove to Larison's one recent Thanksgiving (looking forward to their outrageously generous turkey dinners), and when I saw the restaurant boarded up and the parking lot empty, I almost cried. If it's indeed open again, maybe this Thanksgiving will be different.

Speaking of abandoned/dying buildings... I found the building from the dream I told you about last month. It's hardly abandoned or dying though -- it's the Times Square Marriott Marquis and it's one of the swankiest hotels in New York City. I used to go there and hang out when I was a teenager (you can do that -- ride the glass elevators up to the top and eat in the revolving restaurant, or stroll the concourse in the eighth-floor "lobby," or have a $20 drink at the hotel bar). It is a little dated-looking, which is not to say it's dilapidated -- just that it looks so Dynasty-'80s. But when I walked in there yesterday to use the restroom after the big protest, I was really overwhelmed by how similar the hotel's structure was to the cavernous skyscraper I dreamed about: the very dim lighting, the banks of escalators going up up up, the endless space in the center with the suites off to all four sides, the long rows of plain, anonymous-looking doors hidden away on the upper floors. So the dream-building was some pastiche of the Marriott Marquis, the sadsack Portland Galleria deadmall (where I took my LSAT class when I lived out there), and the old, grim midtown offices I've worked in and visited over the years. Now I know.

February 15, 2003

When I make mixes, I usually do them in drafts. I keep a working playlist on my computer, adding and removing songs and adjusting the track order as necessary, even running off a couple of CD-Rs in the interim to gauge my progress. I'm not really that anal, though -- just two or three drafts at most, and always in short bursts of creativity over a period of days or weeks.

Last night I completed draft three of a mix I've been making for my friend Felicity, and frankly, I'm beaming, gloating over how good it is. I thought I was done with the CD, but one of the tracks I used (Babe Ruth's "The Mexican") turned up on a playlist she posted for one of her own mixes. I scrapped "The Mexican," scrapped about five other songs as well, did a little last-minute mp3-ripping, shuffled things around to find the best segues... and presto. (Oh, and you may recognize some of these as recent FtDitNB mp3s-of-the-week and Nuclear Bunker Radio hits.)

She's going to have to wait until I see her on Tuesday to get the mix, but I'm posting the set here anyway. So it be.

The Buttons - "Bird in My Tree"
The Bobby Fuller Four - "The Lonely Dragster"
Los Shains - "Apache 66"
The Staple Singers - "I Wish I Had Answered"
The Ventures - "Goldfinger"
Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - "Wichita Lineman"
Syd Dale - "Base Line"
Shirley Bassey - "Fool on the Hill"
Conway Twitty - "Touch the Hand"
Supremes - "I Keep It Hid"
The Space Lady - "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)"
Gil Trythall - "Cattle Call"
Charles Dodge - "He Destroyed Her Image"
Armando Trovaioli - "Kinky Peanuts"
Adriano Fabi/Sammy Barbot - "Mark II Poliziotto Spara Per Primo"
Gilberto Gil - "Pega a Voga, Cabeludo"
Sheffield's Gate - "Tell Her No"
John Andrews and the Lonely Ones - "It's Just Love"
Dr. T and the Undertakers - "Undertakers Theme"
Vanilla Fudge - "Ticket to Ride"
Sly and Robbie - "Pannin' Dub"
Symarip - "Try Me Best"
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - "Ain't No Grave Hold My Body Down"
Lloyd Price - "Stagger Lee"
Little Milton - "Lookin' For My Baby"

February 14, 2003

February 13, 2003

Another nod to another great site: Deep Groove Encyclopedia, which I've used as a reference guide three times in the past two days (all for totally unrelated purposes).

February 11, 2003

My pal Hoffman (who should really be blogging) is in the middle of an ongoing project (that should really be blogged). I'll let him explain:


My New Year's resolution was to see 300 movies this year. I'm keeping a
journal -- after each film I give it a letter grade and write a very short
review. After each 10 films I zip out a bulletin. Here are the first
three. Volume 4 should be coming soon.

Feel free to agree or disagree -- that's what makes it fun:

1) Gangs of New York, Martin Scorsese, B
Great sets, great Day-Lewis, but really just a Hollywood epic without much
of a sense of humor.

2) Tokyo Olympiad, Kon Ichikawa, A-
Unparalleled cinematography and editing. Hypnotic.

3) The Song Remains The Same, Peter Clifton & Joe Massot , C+
Technically appalling, but any glimpse into the idiocy of mid 70s Led
Zeppelin is bound to be fascinating and hilarious. Who knew Robert Plant
would have fit in perfectly in Kiss? And, yes, Page really does have a
double-guitar. I thought this movie ruled when I was 16. Some songs still
rock, though.

4) Jesus' Son, Alison MacLean, B
Another movie about junkies in love redeems itself with an unexpected and
extended third act. Fantastic lead performance, even if the character is
though to empathize with. You can tell this film was based on great short

5) Ciao! Manhattan, John Palmer & David Weisman, D
The novelty of seeing 60s Manhattan wears thin after 30 minutes. Edie
Sedgwick's death wasn't much of a loss for the acting community.

6) All That Jazz, Bob Fosse, A-
Pretentious, yes, but such a rich, fun ride. Who doesn't want to see Roy
Scheider in spandex?

7) Star 80, Bob Fosse, B+
Fosse does De Palma. Well crafted, well acted (where has Eric Roberts
gone?), story is a little too "E! Hollywood Story" to make it perfect. Lots
of sexy girls.

8) Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini, B-
Maybe I'd like this more if I hadn't seen 9 million of its imitators? And
why must all of Fellini's early films be so "wonderful"? I'd like to see a
Guilieta Massina performance directed by someone else some day. She is lots
of fun. The scene in the church is the best part -- and it's the only one
that isn't played for laughs or for melodrama.

9) Taste of Cherry, Abbas Kiarostami, B+
One of my favorite movies where an Iranian man drives around. Audacious and
annoying, especially the ending. I highly recommend it.

10) Repo Man, Alex Cox, C+
Oddly, this hasn't aged all that much. Harry Dean Stanton is entertaining.

11) Chicago, Rob Marshall, A
Kerry didn't buy Richard Gere, but I couldn't find any fault with this film.
Big fun. Odd, cause it really has you cheering on some horrible people.
Perhaps an updated version with "liquor and jazz" replaced with "hip-hop and
the rock"? Nah, it wouldn't be the same.

12) The Horse's Mouth, Ronald Neame, A
Not only funny, but completely original. Midway through some surprising
insights into creative madness. Why do all British movies have such great
side characters?

13) Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time, Thomas
Reidelsheimer, B-
Wonderfully shot and mostly fascinating doc about a fantastic artist who,
unfortunately, won't keep his trap shut about his own art. He talks about
his work as he creates it. Thus Reidelsheimer is unable to edit the
pontifications out, reducing what could have been a transcendent film into
one man's wanking. Despite my disdain for the man, I recognize his genius
and think Reidelsheimer is a great filmmaker, too.

14) Raising Cain, Brian De Palma, B+
Idiotic and implausible, but oh so much fun. Lithgow is priceless. How in
the hell did they do that tracking shot up to the morgue through that
elevator? The film's final shot made Ann & I both jump!

15) Ghost in the Shell, Masamune Shirow, D+
Visually interesting, yes. Also, great sound effects -- and I rarely notice
that. But a half-baked plot boringly executed with pitiable acting.

16) Monster's Ball, Marc Forster, B
Good mood, great performances. Simple story -- and that quietness obscures
that it is not all that original. Great score. That's the real star of the

17) City of God, Fernando Meirelles, B+
"Gangs of New York" all over again, this time in 70s Rio de Janeiro.
Nothing too groundbreaking, but a few scenes are harrowing. Slick moves,
too. I want the soundtrack album.

18) Two Minute Warning, Larry Peerce, D-
"Airport" meets "Black Sunday." How could any film starring Charlton Heston
& John Cassavetes be this bad? Good cinematography and a decent, but
completely out-of-place moment by Gena Rowlands keeps this from getting an

19) A Streetcar Named Desire, Elia Kazan, A+
Yep, it just doesn't come better than this. The few moments that come off
as a bit over-the-top need not be shrugged off as dated, rather enjoyed as
high camp. Would things have turned out all right if Mitch had just married
Blanche? He lives in the French Quarter, for God's sake, why should he be
so shocked that she lied about her past and "wasn't straight"? But I
suppose lying was the big sin. Even though Kowalski's world is cruel and
brutal, at least everyone is honest. I must admit that when I first saw
this film, when I was 17 or so, the implied rape sailed over my head.

20) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Richard Brooks, B+
Lacks the spark of perfection found in "Streetcar" but certainly is a good
yarn about a woman who doesn't get enough sex. At least one round of
shouting in the drawing room could be cut out. Burl Ives' Big Daddy has
inspired many a loud fat guy role in the work of the Coen Bros.


21) The Hudsucker Proxy, Coen Bros., A
Be sure to watch this DVD with the closed captioning on to catch all the
stray verbiage. This may be The Coens' most epic film. The Carter Burwell
score swells in just the right moments to make you forget about irony. And
then Norville Barnes says something idiotic (he never quite gets that Amy
isn't a Muncie Girl, does he?) to make it all crash down around him.
Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance is nonstop fun and the Dingus Production
montage keeps me in stitches every time. Will they ever collaborate with
Sam Raimi again?

22) The Big Lebowski, Coen Bros., A+
And if you don't like this movie, well, it's just, like, your opinion, man.
I've seen it probably six times and it only get funnier. One day I might
even follow the plot.

23) Hair, Milos Forman, D
Just awful. I hope Milos had no creative control here -- otherwise it is
hard to imagine how the insightful creator of "Loves of a Blonde" or
"Amadeus" could have released such tripe. One or two of the musical
numbers, "Black Boys/White Boys" especially, are fun.

24) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, George Roy Hill, B
I know it's the buddy movie to end all buddy movies, but let's admit that it
gets a little draggy once they leave for Bolivia. It's a very good movie,
but not perfect. The DVD transfer is a revelation -- having only seen the
washed out VHS or Superstation broadcast, I was stunned to realize it is a
beautiful looking picture.

25) I See A Dark Stranger, Frank Laudner, C
A poor man¹s "39 Steps." It¹s particularly enraging because it suffers from
what I call "Breakfast at Tiffany¹s" disease, specifically, a film¹s false
assumption that we¹ll forgive the heroine of all her annoying habits because
she is a blithe spirit. Fuck that! Deborah Kerr plays a dithering twit
that any of us would want to smack in real life. Some sequences, though,
specifically on the train, show an economic visual style that is remarkable,
I must admit.

26) The Last Metro, Francois Truffaut, A-
Truffaut¹s epic wisely plays to his strengths. He shows the effects of war
by keeping the story intimate and micro.

27) The Matrix, Larry & Andy Wachowski, C
This movie stars leather pants. You have to sit through a lot of bad,
boring acting in between scenes of flying and shooting. Only Hugo Weaving
brings anything resembling wit to his role ­ and wouldn¹t you know he¹s the
one playing the computer program?

28) Contempt, Jean-Luc Godard, B-
I fell asleep when I saw this Freshman year and I fell asleep again now. It
took 3 sittings to make it all the way through. I see what Godard is doing
here, but I think he does it much better elsewhere: "Pierrot le Fou,"
"Masculine-Feminine," "Band of Outsiders" even "Le Weekend." Nice touches
here & there ­ especially the recurring music and the framing.

29) The End, Burt Reynolds, B+
A relentless black comedy about death and suicide. Great dialogue and
fantastic cameo performances from Joanne Woodward and David Steinberg.
Where¹s Dom Deluise these days?

30) The Scent of Green Papaya, Anh Hung Tran, A-
Pure cinema. This must¹ve been a 20 page script. Wong Kar-Wei without the
irony. Sometimes you need a movie without irony.

February 10, 2003

A Poll: New York's favorite bums?

(We here at FtDitNB like the Jandeky schizo on the platform of the Clark Street station who bangs away, night and day, at an old busted guitar.)

February 09, 2003

Yesterday's trip to Kim's yielded, among other things, the new installment of Normal Records' Love, Peace & Poetry series -- Brazilian Psychedelic Music. The series focuses on obscure psych from around the world: They've done America, Latin America, Asia, Japan, and Britain (I know, Japan is in Asia, but obviously they had enough J-psych for an entire compilation, and you can say the same w/r/t the Brazil and Latin America comps) (and obv "America" means "non-Latin America").

The only other album I have in this series is the J-psych one from 2001, and I listened to that with equal parts disappointment and discomfort -- the former because most of the selections weren't very good, the latter because everything about it (the cover photo of a blonde white woman posing seductively on a bed, the Engrish song titles, the way it was getting promoted and big-upped as some sort of what-the-fuck coffee-table novelty item for L-train unemployables) felt like dilettantish look-honey cultural tourism.

I get a better feeling from the Brazil comp. The music is that good (although I question how "psychedelic" some of it is -- a few tracks are straight-up LSD-less Brit Invasion and jammy Stones bluze-foak). Also, I think Americans are over seeing stuff like Mutantes (who aren't on here and don't need to be) as an exotic curiosity; it's real, respectable, canonical music, and no one really condescends to Brazilian rock music's derivation from American and British forms.

(NB: The blonde white woman is still on the cover. Here it's a little more believable.)

February 08, 2003

Hear this:

To the cockfarmer who signed me up, without my permission, to one hundred About.com mailing lists and subsequently jammed my webmail inbox with welcome messages: If you ever do that again I will find you and Krazy Glue your genitals to a moving train. And that goes for anyone else reading this, no matter how much I like you.

February 07, 2003

February 06, 2003

There's a reference in the preceding post to the eponymous debut album by a band called Semi-Gloss. I wanna talk about that record a little bit. See, it's the beginning of the year, and I'm allowing myself a few months (before getting back into aggressive All New Music All The Time mode) to listen to older things. And among those "older things" I've decided to revisit some of my favorite overlooked '90s alternative records, many of which date from 1995-1998. This was a really fruitful period -- "alternative" as a construct/marketing concept was a dead horse, but that also meant that bands could stop trying so hard and settle into themselves, make good music without A&R people breathing down their necks.

Semi-Gloss (Dirt) came out in 1997 and that's exactly the year it should have come out. It's a groovy Lower East Side record, a dirty-twee Velvets/Television/Feelies chug done up by some Vassar kids -- including a smart, sarcastic Swiss-Chinese-Parisian chanteuse-in-training named Verena Wiesendanger (who hits the French textbook for "Sans Expliquer" and at least one other track). They're young, enthusiastic, thoroughly amateurish, and even though they're working towards professionalism, they sound like they're having a grand old time putting into action what little they know about theory and technique. Semi-Gloss is sensuously cool and urban, too -- just the right accompaniment for running breathlessly down Houston Street in the middle of an early summer night, still floating on the high from seeing your favorite second-tier touring band at the Mercury. I miss that historical moment, that sense of relaxed innocence-in-spite-of-it-all: see also Dump's A Plea For Tenderness (1998), Luna's Penthouse (1995), the Legendary Jim Ruiz Group's Sniff (1998), any number of artists on Jeepster, Parasol, etc.

I don't know what ultimately became of this band, and I actually don't care -- this one record, this one moment in time, is all I need from Semi-Gloss. It's a sensation that can never be duplicated or reinvoked.

My Weekly Top Twenty
1) navel oranges
2) Siberia (the bar)
3) Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful"
4) "A lot of people have crushes on you, Jody." (a friend)
5) Rosemary's Baby (at the Film Forum)
6) The Wiz (just watched it on DVD)
7) my new hat (snagged at Delia's as part of a "buy one, get two free" sale)
8) The Spinners
9) Nero CD-burning software
10) Semi-Gloss' 1997 debut album
11) the new Calexico album
12) Jess' Azerrad piece
13) "Of course a lot of people have crushes on you. You are smart, cool and babelike." (another friend)
14) the Craigslist "Missed Connections" board
15) Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love"
16) "Thugz Mansion (Acoustic)"
17) Almond Roca
18) Sex and the City reruns on HBO On Demand
19) my black button-down dress with the little lion drawings on it
20) Yo La Tengo's cover of "Hanky Panky Nohow"

February 04, 2003

New York Magazine just published its list of the city's 50 Best Bars. Good choices: Siberia's on there, Plant Bar, Pianos, Halcyon, and oh my god look it's ILX hangout the Magician ("Best Bar to Take Over With Twenty Friends"). No comment on the accompanying blurbs; we're more concerned with losing our favorite corner table now that the rabbit's out of the hat.

Zagat is doing a Music Guide, and they're accepting ballots until April 13. You can rate albums based on "Excellence," "Writing," "Musicianship," and "Production" (on a 0-3 scale), and you're encouraged to list your favorite track and leave comments. Voters will receive a free copy of the guide when it's published. This could be interesting.

February 03, 2003

This new MailTracking service is a little icky. It seems to function as a SiteMeter for your inbox -- letting you know individual IP addresses, tracking the time and length of each visit (or in this case, when the recipient opened your e-mail and for how long), what operating system and mailreader each person uses, etc.

This isn't exactly revolutionary -- any traceroute client can figure out what city an IP comes from, and AOL (at least the version I used to use) has a way of letting you know that the recipient has opened your e-mail. OK, fine. Some people don't want their privacy compromised like this, but there's really no such thing as privacy on the internet anyway. You leave a trail wherever you go, no matter how anonymous you believe you are -- if you use a password for any reason, it's always just a matter of time until someone hacks it.

But MailTracking can also figure out this stuff:

-Whether or not your email was forwarded to someone else

-If it was forwarded, where it was forwarded to, sometimes including who subsequently reads it.

-If your email gets published online, you can find this out too, as well as where (the URL) usually.


-Self-Destructing emails can be sent right from within your normal email program, letting you specify whether or not your recipient is allowed to print, mark/copy/paste, forward, or save your email, and how long they are allowed to read it, before it permanently erases itself.

It's toe-curling, isn't it?