Archive for April, 2008

bklyn

I wrote this a year ago and it’s been sitting in my drafts in need of an end, which it still doesn’t have. I guess I may as well post it though, and keep on this habit of providing fresh content….

There was an episode of Will and Grace (during the Harry Connick, Jr. years) where, after Grace gets married, she moves to Brooklyn. (TV Watching Companion doesn’t like watching Will and Grace so my wording and context might be off since I haven’t seen a rerun of that show in ages.)

Someone tells former Upper Westsider Grace of a great restaurant or something in her new Brooklyn Heights neighborhood and she says “I don’t know…I only know my street” and the audience erupts into thunderous laughter and knowing applause. Ha, Brooklyn. The place where people live because they have to. (And of course an artsy, bohemian, skull cap-wearing Rosanna Arquette is her massage therapist neighbor – because people in Brooklyn don’t need real office jobs when they live in Brooklyn, it’s where unconventional people and Doctors Without Borders live. Plus it’s where Miranda was forced to live on Sex and the City against her will, with a crazy, eating-pizza-out-of-the-garbage mother-in-law. It is basically as torturous to live in as Abu Ghraib, according to Hollywood.)

The sad thing is that while I do know a Brooklyn beyond my actual street, it’s only like 1/16 of what Brooklyn is and it’s still pretty much an anomaly – the other 15/16ths are varied and different for better and for worse. I’m not as ignorant as Grace and I actually think that walking through the sketchy parts of Brooklyn are kind of fun (because you get hit on even if you’re in your gym clothes! Is that a wrong reason?) but the percentage of the city I actually know (’cause if I learned anything from Welcome Back, Kotter, it’s that Brooklyn is America’s fourth largest city) is teeny. I figure it’s kind of like a musical artist. Like, I know about 4 Elvis Costello albums really well, and I figure if his entire catalog is as good as King of America (odd choice for some, but my absolute favorite), as long as I know it’s out there and I have the standing opportunity to listen to them at some point, I’m fine. As long as I know I can take the R train to Bay Ridge and get a giant plate of spaghetti with a view of the Verrazzano, ok then. I can live with that, maybe some day I’ll be just bored enough to do it.

Also, Ted Allen lives in my neighborhood, so if it’s good enough for one out of five Queer Guys, maybe Hollywood should reexamine things.

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The perfect storm of analogies and frustration

I was on a Sarah “NPR/The Incredibles/McSweeney’s” Vowell kick recently and I read her books Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot and found them both really great – they were what I would want to write if I was as well-spoken and smart as her, personal but funny and actually educational. It helps that she started out as a music writer, that gives me some hope, although I hardly call myself a music writer, more just a person who found an opportunity to write about one thing I like, not particularly prolifically or with expertise, and have managed to milk it for free admission to shows.

I was also on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer kick for most of 2007, having gotten into the show thanks to TV Watching Companion’s devout obsession with all things Whedon, and now that it’s 2008, our house has become election-obsessed too. (Not my half of the household so much- I’m perfectly happy to keep my opinions to myself and hope that pundits and tv hosts will do the same, but my companion prefers to be informed by news networks at all times so there’s always some kind of coverage being blathered about in the background at Chez Whoisliz.) But the point is, we’re both interested in what’s happening in the country, I just happen to be willing to ignore it until November if I can because spinning people’s words for seven more months may be sport for some, but not one I find entertaining to watch — unlike vampire-killing.

So remember 2 weeks ago where Obama said folks in Pennsylvania cling to their guns and religion and whatnot? Basically everyone with a microphone called him elitist – this was covered perfectly on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart saying “Doesn’t elite mean ‘good’? Is that not something we look for in a president anymore? If you don’t actually think you’re better than us then what the f are you doing?!”. (I tried to embed this clip to no avail, blah. I also censored the F-word for my child readers. ) I think most people kinda got what Obama was saying but of course, there’s no fun in letting it lie, so now we can call this Poor-Choice-of-Phrasing-Gate. Considering the extremists that exist in our country (um, we do have the highest rate of gun violence of developed countries and uhh, then there’s that sect of Fundamentalist Mormons who are giving away their teen daughters to old dudes so they can breed the next generation of Fundamentalist Mormons…) religions and guns are only ok if you know how to use them and I think Obama may have been talking about the people who use them for the wrong reasons.

Back to Sarah Vowell and her book, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, where she discusses her disappointment in the results of the 2000 election between Bush/Cheney and Gore/Lieberman (which, despite the trauma, brought us the bumper sticker “Sore Loserman” which, for punniness I give a B+, congrats Republicans). She discusses how in America, knowledge is basically devalued from an early age – if you were the kid in class with the best paper, “you’re not smart, you’re a smarty-pants”. I remember clearly in my seventh grade Spanish class wanting so bad to pronounce words correctly but if I did, I’d be the only one in class to do so. Hey, I watched Sesame Street until I was like eight, of course I knew how to pronounce this crap (Muchas Gracias, Luis y Maria!), but since everyone else was pronouncing the double L in tortilla, I figured it’d be better to fit in and go with that flow. Then when I transfered schools in the ninth grade and was the only freshman in advanced Spanish, no one thought I was really smart, they thought I was a show-offy nerd, especially the one junior in class who couldn’t figure out why she was in Spanish with a freshman who was kicking her ass at verbos irregulares. Beat that, hermana.

Vowell discusses the fact that Al Gore’s know-it-all-ness while he was running contributed to his loss – he was inaccessible and people thought he was showing off when he would say things about the environment or, say, helping create the internet. He was unapologetic about his causes that he had studied so fervently (why should you apologize for your interests?) but because of that, Americans thought he was arrogant. The following passage from the book so completely struck me when I read it, partly because of the Buffy references but also because it’s so true and depressing. I probably need permission to post this but hey, y’all, I didn’t write it, Sarah Vowell did, credit where credit is due:

(click to enlarge, start with the second paragraph)

I’m not sorry for knowing Spanish the way that Al Gore shouldn’t be sorry for tracking climate change the way that Obama shouldn’t be sorry for not coddling every single voter he can and changing his story when the mood (or primary) strikes. Don’t we want leaders with opinions, preferably ones that don’t change depending on whether they’re guests on The Daily Show that day or speaking to the NRA that night? You might like shooting guns, you might have strong faith, you might hate a candidate for saying what s/he says – GOOD for you. You don’t wake up and think “My co-workers like Obama so today we will talk about the government getting their laws off my body! But tomorrow when I hang out with my fellow McCainiacs, I’m going to pray for those baby-killing sinners!”

News networks are the equivalent of paparazzi these days – I don’t care about Britney not wearing underwear, the same way I don’t care that candidates make off-handed remarks – who hasn’t said something and then wondered “Did that sound rude or racist or snotty?” I’m so over this election and I’m really over stupid people. I toil away at a nothing job so I can live a normal life while rich a-holes on cable news get paid millions to stoke fires of hate and change the course of our history and economy with their incessant verbal diarrhea. Roll of election coverage, hear my cry – I’m tuning you out because you make me hate our democratic system and pretty soon you’re going to make me hate every candidate for one reason or another – tell me how this divisiveness is productive? What’s your end game? Because if we learned one thing from Buffy, it’s that the best episodes are the ones with no words. That, and it sucks to live on a Hellmouth, which is pretty much what we’re becoming.

Freecycle Genius

I joined Freecycle last year, for those of you who don’t know, Freecycle is a regional website where likeminded people (those of us who want to prevent items from being thrown in landfills while also being super cheap) post items to give away or post items they want to acquire. In the past year, I gave away a broken food processor, an old computer monitor, a VCR and a bunch of other stuff – I’ve never gotten any freebies though because usually the people giving stuff away are like “for pickup at my home in Sheepshead Bay” and I’m too lazy to go anywhere but my block. I could get about 5 posts out of this topic if I cut and pasted some of the emails I’ve gotten from people (“I need the computer monitor you posted because while I was at a funeral on Christmas, my house was burglarized and also I lost my job.” “I have to postpone my pickup again, my car is waterlogged. Also, I didn’t get your last email because remember the storm we had two weeks ago? Lightning hit a cable line and wiped out my Verizon so I couldn’t email!” Excuses!)

The basic premise is that if you’re giving something away, say a kitchen table, you write “Offer: Kitchen Table”, if you need one, you say “Wanted: Kitchen Table” and if you already gave the item away to someone you say “Taken” or “Promised: Kitchen Table”. Here’s the thing – there is a goldmine in this website. There’s a lot of material in the crap people give away and their posts about said crap. Overall I believe the concept of Freecycle is great and I’m glad my old stuff has gone on to live in new homes where people can use them, and I’m going to try and steer clear of making fun (or not), instead this will just serve as a place where we can marvel together at the content and at what people think other people might want (and what some of those people have actually taken). I’d post links but I think you need to be a Freecycle member to view them. Ahem:

Offer .. Near New GOLD’N HOT Professional Crimping Iron

Offer: Pill Holder
this is a 7 day pill holder that has 4 compartments per day. i’ve been offering it for a couple of months, someone wanted it blah, blah, blah… you know the story. (this has literally been posted for 5 months. I’m imagining that it’s one of those Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc plastic things you get at the drugstore for $.50)

Offer: Cake Pan in Shape of VW Bug (11217) (ok I would actually take that – adorable!)

Wanted-Elephant Ornament with the Trunk facing Upwards (down-facing trunks need not apply)

Spoken For: Cute Bear Statues

OFFER: Sugar & Sweet ‘n Low packets (Calling all Nana’s!)

WANTED: EXTERCISE BIKE FOR MY COLESTORS AND DIABETES

Offer: Reptile enclosure

WANTED: REFRIGERATOR FOR PREGNANT WOMAN

Wanted: massage, bklyn (honestly, not even the creepiest request on this site)

Taken – Bona Stain (I don’t know what this is but my imagination is running wild!)

condoms – 2 lots of 40 condoms to give

TAKEN: pork shoulder

OFFER: Mannequin arm and calf

Free-12 OZ Can of Enfamil

promised: dog pee spray and layne bryant pants (two great tastes that taste great together)

And there you have it.

Reduce, Reuse, Destroy

Last night (Happy belated Earth Day), Live Music Loving Companion and I headed back to North Brooklyn to check out Destroyer at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. We stopped in at the Surf Bar for a drink with show photographer Diana before the show started (At 11pm! Who does that? Liz Lemon Unapproved!). I’m pretty certain the Surf Bar is owned by the guy who faced off with Bobby Flay on the Throwdown chowder episode – I know you all know how Throwdown is Liz Black Unapproved because I find it unnecessarily mean and deceptive, see my post about the Doughnut Krishna – but alas, we only had beer and not chowder, but the sand-covered floors and surfboard decor was fun and the menu looked delicious so we plan to go back.

The review of the Destroyer show is up today…not a chatty bunch, those guys, but I swear the more you listen to their albums (I’m partial to Rubies (Destroyer’s Rubies?) and the recent Trouble in Dreams, mainly because I’ve listened to them constantly for a week), the more they will earworm their way into your heart.

So long, Puck’s finger in Pedro’s peanut butter

Well, it finally happened.

A few months ago, At-Home-Sales Companion and I started selling our used stuff on Amazon – I had a bunch of old DVD box sets and books that I wanted to get rid of, and he had, oh, about everything he’s ever owned taking up precious closet space, so we decided to clean house. You’re only allowed to list stuff for two months at a time, then it expires and you have to re-list it. So after two months of no one caring for my pop culture crap (sure, everyone wants season 1 of Gilmore Girls* but there’s no love for The Brady Bunch Book – and I don’t even mean the Barry Williams tell-all, Growing Up Brady, I mean a book of Brady trivia, of which there are currently 73 used copies available on Amazon for one cent, but I’m the lone seller who actually thinks my copy is worth $.25 so that’s some good sales tactics right? It’s why I didn’t major in business, people!), I re-listed some stuff and someone finally bought the crown jewel in my ready-to-be-unloaded pile of crap: The Real World’s Greatest Fights DVD.

ay caliente!

“Why on earth would you give that up?” you ask. I know, it seems like an impulsive act of insanity to get rid of the one DVD in my collection that features a fight about peanut butter between an AIDS activist and a bike messenger . “Won’t you regret it? What if you want to watch a bunch of over-dramatic twenty-somethings living in L.A. get in a fight while in their pajamas and then it turns into like, assault charges, but not really because it’s not like in-house cop Irene arrested anyone?” And to that I say, have my synopses not already proved that I’ve seen these enough? And also, here’s how old this DVD is – it only contains fights through season 5. That means that all the fights on this disc feature people in overalls and/or flannel shirts (or, as in caliente Latina firecracker Melissa’s case, pictured above, hot pink shoulder padded blazers) and background music from the Gin Blossons and Candlebox. Some of the fighters are even kind of fat by MTV standards now and never wore bikini’s on screen.

So, adieu, my old DVD. You were fun for a time, but I’ve matured. For nine whole dollars, someone else can love you and pull you out at a fondue party where there’s a lull in the conversation and you want to reminisce about the good old days of Bunim/Murray Productions. (I do miss the opening of season 2 L.A. though – “BETH!” “Could you get the phone?” “Truuuue storehhhhies!” “The Real World…California”)

*And to clarify, I only sold Gilmore Girls Season 1 because all my besties chipped in and bought me the entire series box set for my birthday last year. With friends like these, who needs catfights?

Tired

So tired that I can’t think of a good title. I was up till 2am last night writing a review for the Joseph Arthur show that Live Music Loving Companion and I attended last night (we got home at 1am so its not like I was toiling for hours and hours) and I am still pooped. Plus, we got to take a work field trip to MoMa to see this exhibit so I was out for most of the day. I guess my day job (or night job for that matter) isn’t so bad.

There is a link to the review I wrote but I like my original version better, so here’s the writer’s cut too:

The audience at last night’s six-act, five-and-a-half hour show at The Living Room, one of many shows this week commemorating the venue’s tenth anniversary, was dotted with performers, nearly all of whom joined headliner Joseph Arthur on stage at one point or another (or in the case of amazing singer Jenni Muldaur, Arthur jumped on with her and her 7 piece band before his set). After a few hours, my concert-going companion observed, “I think we’re the only people in here who don’t regularly hang out with everyone else in here.” It did have a reunion vibe, but everyone was just there to spread their love and appreciation – if not for the venue then at least for Joe.

As the night wore on, what started as a quiet, open-mike-like setting turned into a full on jam session with Arthur’s bandmates and “special friends” like Scottish singer Angela McClusky, guitarist Jennifer Turner and even R.E.M.’s Mike Mills during the show closer, a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes”. It almost felt like those of us at the tiny cabaret tables were just flies on the wall of a giant party and we got to clap along – at Arthur’s behest, he told us to stop being too-cool New Yorkers and sing along. At the end of the show, the musicians simply walked off stage into the crowd – if they had asked us to, we would have followed the band into the street to keep the party alive.