December 31, 2004

Best part of ABBA: The Movie is when they're recording (well... "recording") "Thank You For the Music" and as an ever-earnest Agnetha delivers the line "I've been so lucky / I am the girl with golden hair," Frida CRACKS. THE. FUCK. UP.

Jess wrote in his ever-expanding 2004 year-end wrap-up that everything in his life seemed to be "unhinged, uprooted, unpredictable, and unsafe in the year 2004." That's pretty much how I felt--and after reading the blogs of a lot of my friends, I get the sense that 2004 was rough, if not completely fucking horrible; it's a year we all want to forget for various reasons, personal or political. But I've found I'm happiest when I'm in a state of transition--zooming from point A to point B in a car, jumping on a plane to the next location, running, working on the next story or planning the next weird adventure. The trick is make the most of the "unhinged, uprooted, unpredictable," to view it as something that makes you free. And if that sounds horribly new agey, it's because, well, sometimes that new agey shit is for real.

The great Geeta, more or less summing up how I felt this year.

December 30, 2004

Let's end this godawful year with a promise confident assertion of good things to come: I wanna put some more mp3s up in this blogbitch, and I'll start doing so right bloody now.

The first comes from Le Pamplemousse (about whom the Disco Museum has a generous biography). Basically, Le Pamplemousse were a couple of hack producers/session men from the '60s (Laurin Rinder and Michael Lewis) who got tipped off to disco fairly early on, and in the intrepid spirit of capitalism, said "I can do this!" God bless America.

"Creepin'" is an album track from the 1979 LP Planet of Love. Their big single, the cheeky "Le Spank" (a cash-in on a local dance craze at a Chicago disco called Dingbats), came a few years earlier. The Pamplemousse discography includes three albums and a handful of 12s. The albums' liner notes attribute the instrumentation to several musicians, none of whom actually existed, claims Laurin Rinder (he says he and Michael Lewis played everything themselves). Entirely possible; a lot of producers are more capable musicians than the schlubs they're producing! They have to be. Which is one reason why a made-up band >>>> a real band.

Second mp3 is Droids, Shanti Dance - Part 2. All you need to know about this late-Kosmische/early-Italo curiosity is that (a) they're French, (b) the LP is called Star Peace and came out a year after ohhhhh take a wild guess which movie, (c) Star Peace marries the Moog/ARP/Oberheim trifecta with... tablas, and (d) this is the cover:

December 23, 2004

GetDisconnected is a new-ish disco reissue label that looks dodgy at a glance but could be promising (and hopefully profitable). They've got a couple of comps out, but they want to concentrate on single-artist LP reissues too -- their first is Poo Say by Poussez.

And an R.I.P. to Freddie Perren, co-producer of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," producer of two tracks on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and tracks by Peaches & Herb and the Sylvers, and member of the Corporation, the Matrix/Neptunes/Jam-Lewis of Motown.

December 22, 2004

I'll let Lileks take over from here.

December 21, 2004

June 22, 1971, New York City. The Borscht Belt still exists and people are still trekking up to the Catskills for entertainment, relaxation, sports (in theory), and quality time, with the kids or away from them. July 4th is coming up; it's hot; everyone wants to get the hell out of town. The New York Post heeds the call, posting a double-sided two-page advertising spread, simply titled "Resorts—New York State."

December 19, 2004. I'm in my grandmother's apartment up in the North Bronx. She passed away in November and we're going through the last round of figuring out what to get rid of, what to donate to Goodwill, what to "inherit." She doesn't have much of any great value left at the place (most likely thanks to years of sticky-fingered home care attendants who'd taken advantage of her lack of mobility, poor eyesight, and Alzheimer's disease). But I do find a few old newspaper pages lining a drawer in the second bedroom. They've probably been there since my grandparents moved in, back when Co-op City first opened to tenants in the early '70s.

I scanned some of the best ads from that Post pullout:

1. Fallsview: you deserve the very best this summer!
2. Happiness is Homowack! Irv and Florence Blickstein's HOMOWACK
3. have your children ever been enchanted by the Pied Piper?
5. The Waldemere: Rated X For Excitement

December 20, 2004

If you're like me, you've gotten sucked into the brilliant objet d'market-research hucksterism that is Audioscrobbler. If you're even more like me, odds are you've been thinking "gee Audioscrobbler's great, but it's too bad all the existing disco forums there are basically dead." And maybe you considered starting a new one, but you were worried no one would join or post. That worried me as well, but I'm taking my chances. Disko Island: Come for the coke, stay for the sex. Or something.

December 19, 2004

Hey, I just submitted my Pazz & Jop ballot! I haven't sent comments in yet... still tryin' to think of some.

The albums and singles votes you can have; the point distribution is none of your business (but suffice to say I gave the edge to the lesser-knowns).

And I don't apologize for the number of compilations on my list. 2004 was a banner year for archival material. Thai Beat A Go-Go Vol. 1 and Rio Baile Funk: Favela Booty Beats were strong top-ten contenders, but would have been even better as EPs featuring just the A-material.

I could do a whole 'nother list of reissues, first issues, more-or-less-first-issues, deluxe editions, single-artist comps, box sets... and Hyped to Death would probably be as prevalent there as Sublime Frequencies is on my P&J list.

With singles, years are murky terrain. There's the release year, there's the year the track makes its impact, and maybe the track doesn't make any impact but the release date is close enough to this year that you can get away with it, and there's the matter of release dates/impact overseas. The "Good Boys" single made the rounds in Europe and Australia in 2003, but it didn't get an official U.S. release until February 9, 2004. Also, we were allowed to vote for album tracks as "singles," but for the most part I stuck with real actual singles (and B-sides), cuz it's the right thing to do, and because pop, dance, and R&B need love too.

1. Various Artists - Princess Nicotine: Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar (Sublime Frequencies)
2. Morgan Geist - Unclassics: Obscure Electronic Funk & Disco 1978-1985 (Environ)
3. Various Artists - Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk & Pop Music Vol. 1 (Sublime Frequencies)
4. Walkmen - Bows and Arrows (Record Collection)
5. Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat (Sanctuary/Rough Trade)
6. Various Artists - I Remember Syria (Sublime Frequencies)
7. Volga Select - So Young But So Cold: Underground French Music 1977-1983 (Tigersushi)
8. Various Artists - Radio India: The Eternal Dream of Sound (Sublime Frequencies)
9. Tom Dissevelt, Kid Baltan, Henk Badings and Dick Raaijmakers - Popular Electronics: Early Dutch Electronic Music From Philips Research Laboratories 1956-1963 (Basta Music)
10. French Kicks - The Trial of the Century (StarTime International)

1. Blondie - "Good Boys" (Sony Int’l)
2. Alcazar - "This is the World We Live In" (BMG Int’l)
3. Courtney Love - "Mono" (EMI)
4. Gwen Stefani - "What You Waiting For? (Jacques Lu Cont’s TWD Dub)" (Interscope)
5. Fiery Furnaces - "Sing For Me" (Rough Trade)
6. Hold Steady - "The Swish" (Frenchkiss)
7. Annie - "Come Together" (679)
8. X-1 - "New York is So Cool"
9. Brandy feat. Kanye West - "Talk About Our Love" (Atlantic)
10. Kelis - "Trick Me" (EMI)

December 16, 2004

Bud Cort, a life in photos.

(You know, I've never seen Die Laughing. Anyone wanna bring me up to speed?)

Right then, The Life Aquatic.

Every Wes Anderson movie comes with the same proviso: No matter how excellent the film is, it's never perfect, and everyone who enjoys his work is always obliged to point the imperfections out. So, I thought The Life Aquatic was outfuckingstanding, but not perfect. I can accept that; it's part of the deal.

I hate the way CGI looks. I hate it. I'm trying to adapt, I truly am, but I just hate it. It's painful to watch it when there's so much quality hand-drawn animation out there, so much good work done with special effects, stuntpeople, trained animals. CGI looks crass and nouveau-riche, and if Wes Anderson will let me stick my nose in his directorial chair for a minute... his films are old money. He made a point of having Team Zissou's ship equipment be obsolete, yellowing, falling apart, while his nemesis' machinery is au courant and snazzy as hell (boooooooo). I suppose I'm just not ready to let Wes join the new world yet. I wanna keep him shielded from the 21st century, locked in a room watching Brewster McCloud over and over and over until he sprouts wings and flies off to whatever remote island Shelley Duvall has been hiding on, so he can talk her into starring in his next movie.

Also: too much music. It hurts me in my heart to say that. But the wall-to-wall meme has gotta stop, and that's a plea to all moviemakers everywhere. Yes the music choices were good. They were quite good. I loved the use of "Gut Feeling" in the montage scene. (Wes Anderson does montage scenes really fabulously, especially when they involve people running or jogging.) I loved the Brazilian Bowie, the first couple of times. And the now-famous Zissou theme music was cute. That's all ya need. More movie please, less soundtrack. The overflow of music worked to beautiful effect in Tenenbaums, but that was Anderson's Manhattan, his romantic epic, and Life Aquatic is his Small Time Crooks (a top-notch comedy-qua-comedy, but ultimately not much more than a funny tone poem).

Third and final complaint: guns, Wes? That's so Jerry Bruckheimer. Stick with the dynamite (get it? stick? hahahaha).

Everything else was rad. Anderson found the perfect pitch and he carried it throughout. And I think Noah Baumbach (whom I've always liked a lot) is a better writing partner than that smarmy egomaniac Owen Wilson. This was a well-paced, well-edited, fat-free script, and in spite of Life Aquatic being primarily a farce there was real drama, and real emotion, and pirates!! Fine stuff.

December 15, 2004

I ordered myself an early Xmas present: this Designers Republic poster for a 2003 Warp Records event at the Vasarely Foundation. (Yes, Warp. Go ahead and scoff; I just like the fiber-optic bundt-cake look of the poster, is all.)

More on Hungarian-born op-artist Victor Vasarely: Wikipedia's Vasarely page, and the Fondation Vasarely's online gallery (I heart the "Vonal" works -- described as "line studies with occasional shading ranges, alterances, deep networks, square waves, curved waves, zooms").

Adding to the ever-growing list of places to visit: NOATAK! (Why? Today I'm wearing Noatak-brand shoes. That's why.)

December 12, 2004

Want a job working with the animal cops? I sure do, but not if it requires all this office work. Fuck that; I wanna go out on the beat and arrest the Tyler Durden of some clandestine pitbull fight club! (But wait, to do that I need a driver's license, and I should probably join the police academy too.)

December 09, 2004

The Google micro-ads are wonderfully quirky. A visit to the Awful Plastic Surgery blog just turned up this one (sensitive language l3373d out for obvious reasons):

You are pretty. You need
free tips to prevent r4p3. Also ask me for referral to top plastic Dr.

December 08, 2004

Another geographical shakeup in Blogistan: Hipster Detritus (R.I.P.) is now the cool out. I'll read it more thoroughly when I get a chance, but the design is nifto, and I've already downloaded the Tommy Seebach "Apache" cover with great enthusiasm.

December 07, 2004

Ummm... not JBR bait, nope, not in the slightest.

Interesting MSNBC article about the battle between free trade and state legislation in the world of American wine distribution. And what you can do to protect your rights as a consumer.

December 06, 2004

Many thanks to those who braved the shitty weather for the split Tokyo Rosemary/Stockholm Cindy birthday FAP (that's "fancy a pint" to you civvies) -- including TR herself, Geeta, and Mr. DJ Paul "Sci-Fi Soul" Kennedy. The venue was Boat on Brooklyn's Smith Street, the jukebox was fashionably indie (with enough dronerock and '70s glam to keep elderly folks like me happy), the drinks were alcoholical. Highlight of the evening (well, really more a hilariously inevitable bit of hipster zeitgeist) was all of us taking out our iPods and comparing notes. Then our friend Matos called and when the phone got passed around to me he asked if I was "iPodding." Teehee.

Also, the jukebox played the Walkmen's "Wake Up," which I hadn't heard in a while and which sounds utterly PERFECT in an empty grungy bar on a rainy Monday night in December. I dunno if I've ever heard the song sound that good on a real stereo.

December 04, 2004

Eurotrash nails it: that sense of unshakeable dread all (okay, MANY) straightish youngish New York women (unless they're models) feel around our town's special breed of straightish youngish urban males. Eurotrash also has something against permalinks, it seems, so I'll reprint her latest post here:

New York man, you can run but you can't hide any more. I've finally figured you out.

Last night I met a lot of New York men. In various bars. And for once, just once, I was sober. Ish. All night. I need to employ this trick more often, as it appears to have revelatory powers. Who knew?

A bit of scene setting for you.

Four girls. Maccers, Elizabeth, Stacy No-blog and me. And about 12 New York Men (let's call them NYMs). Some I knew, some were new. And over the course of the evening, as events unravelled in a bewilderingly familiar fashion, I suddenly realised I had it all down pat. Inside, I laughed. Outside, I continued hoping I looked cool.

But here's how, I've finally realised it works.

1. When a NYM is introduced to you, he shakes your hand, looks at you longlingly with those gorgeous sparkling eyes and instantly rates you in comparison with every other female resident in his temporary hunting ground. Needless to say, I was a screaming fourth last night. When I say rate, I really refer to a dual-concept sliding scale. He'll adjust that scale on a real-time basis depending on a girl's availability, presence of boyfriend, and drunkenness, co-factoring in the location, lateness of night and any emerging possibility that if he doesn't at least make an effort to pick ME up, he might be going home alone.

2. When a NYM talks to you, he makes every effort to convince you that it is YOU he loves. YOU alone. Until a higher rated girl comes back from the lavatory, at which point those shining beacons of love also known as his 'eyes' move back to their real target and you are left, alone and ugly in the darkness. Until she goes to the loo again.

3. NYM doesn't care you if you have a boyfriend or not. He's up for it. IF you're his number one pick. But if you're faithful, number two will do at 2am when the crowds in Balthazar are thinning. You see girls, it's not that he's 'just not that into you', it's just that you're halfway down the list. You need to wax more, and do something about your hair, to get promoted.

4. NYM is fascinating, funny and clever. He's cute and apparently well-adjusted and has an interesting [and well-paid] job in something cool to do with cool things. He'll talk to you in that charming slightly shallow way that lets you know he's a playa. He's cynical, world-weary and he won't call you the next day. But you knew that, didn't you? After all he warned you with all that boyish 'oh wow this is New York and aren't we all so dead inside and isn't it funny' repartee. Alienation is the new black, darling, so suck it up and don't complain. Above all, don't develop feelings. They're so five minutes ago. And his wife wouldn't like it, anyway.

5. NYM won't marry you if he's been dating you more than three months. He'll go out with you, fuck you on a regular basis, have brunch with you and all your friends, take you to weddings, introduce you to his folks, go to theatres and museums with you, allow your alternate toothbrush, deoderant and hair products to reside in his bathroom and generally behave as if he's settling happily down with you. But three days before that trip to Peru you both planned a year ago, he'll become unusually tense and silent. Two days before that trip to Peru you both planned a year ago he'll go out and get very drunk and stay out all night. One day before that trip to Peru you both planned a year ago he'll tell you he met a 23-year-old Estonian dental nurse and they're already engaged to be married. He'll insist on you meeting her, even as you're indulging in horrid break-up, make-up sex sessions after he makes you cry in bars because he's telling you how he doesn't love you as much as he loves some illiterate mono-lingual Estonian hotty whose idea of culture is a trip to McDonalds for a Happy Meal. Fucker will even invite you to the wedding, because he thinks that makes him incredibly enlightened and mature.

So there you have it. New York Man in all his glory. Rejoice Estonia! The rest of us girls are off to get drunk. This sober clarity shit is more than I can take.

December 03, 2004

I've been having the greatest, most vivid, wonderfully fucked-up dreams since I started Effexor over the summer. Last week I dreamt about pirates in an underwater jousting match with the 12-year-old wizard daughter of posh British tourists (no, her name wasn't Hermione) who'd broken away from a cruise where all the passengers had jumped into lifeboats and started racing each other on the ocean. The 12-year-old won, obv. -- both the racing and the jousting. It's lonely at the top.

And last night I dreamt about a teenage girl who'd gotten abducted in a Brooklyn department store and held in a stock room with other abductees. With a little ingenuity she escaped, and once she got outdoors, realized she could fly. She wasn't the only human traffic in the sky; there were undercover air cops trying to apprehend her.

One finally did, and they decided they would head towards Queens and visit the girl's parents. She was nervous about going home to her folks (and didn't especially want to). Instead, they landed in the next neighborhood over from her home: wealthy, tree-lined, manicured, etc. It was 1980 though. When she landed. So the stores all had that "1960s-but-still-sparkling-and-pristine main street of a wealthy Jewish Queens suburb" look.

After all that flying, the girl had forgotten how to walk, how to stand. She was having trouble balancing. Some girls on the street made fun of her. She played dumb (deaf, actually) and wrote "I can't hear you" on a wall with a piece of chalk. They didn't believe her, so she corrected herself and said out loud that she was a teacher of the deaf and related to her students so much that sometimes she felt like she was one of them. That was a lie too obviously; the girls knew it. They invited her back to their house to meet their deaf cousins and interpret some sign language.

Well, whoopsie, this girl doesn't know any sign language; what now? She waited patiently as the two cousins signed for her (it took a few minutes), and then an idea hit her: She coughed to see what the cousins would do. They both stopped, reflexively, like most people do when they hear loud coughing, and with that, their concentration was broken. Ha ha, hahahahaha.

Then they (the cousins and the two girls from the street) abducted her -- took her to the attic and hid her near a tiny window. It was fine with her, since she didn't want to go home and she didn't want anyone in the area to recognize her.

A short while later, her new housemates came upstairs with a few six-packs of cold beer, and sincerely apologized. The girl explained her own situation, and they all had a good laugh and became best friends.

The end.

December 02, 2004

Here's something for certain SoCal expats-to-be who might get homesick for their (rightly) beloved Lee's Sandwiches: cityrag's Guide to Banh Mi in NYC. (Nota bene: This article scooped the Times by a few months, not that that's any major accomplishment.)

(via Gothamist)

And a very happy birthday to the Mystical Dana, who (as you may remember) is my interweb doppelganger. While we're at it, let's give an advance hip hip hooray to the lovely Miss Tokyo Rosemary for the soon-to-be anniversary of her birthing day. Other rad Sagittarians: Britney Spears and John Kerry.

December 01, 2004

Happy birthday to me! The big day was yesterday, the big number is 28, and there was baklava, and I watched The Munsters on TVLand and stuff on Animal Planet about reticulated pythons and snow monkeys. Real actual celebration next Monday, because next Monday is the new this Tuesday.