Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just Another Punk Rock Fantasy



It can be hard to stand in front of the world and talk about your fantasies. This is the deep stuff we're talking here, things that you don't share with anyone. They can be embarrassing, possibly illegal or even worse, painfully banal. And though the world is littered with Savage Love columns in which desperate readers ask how to get their lovers to understand them, I'm going to take a moment here and discuss one of my fantasies.

See, I listened to "Contra" and it's not bad really, not at all, but to me, the story of the album lies in "Cousins" and "Diplomat's Son", two songs that are punk in the same way my co-worker called me that when I carried thirty dollars worth of groceries in my arms instead of a basket. That is, off-the-wall and unexpected. Not to say that "Cousins" has no precedent (see "A-Punk), but it does present itself forthrightly to the point where Ezra Koening is able to spit the line "You've got ten fingers/and you're gonna use'em all" before launching into a guitar solo. That is some Ghostface on "Beat the Clock" confidence right there, just daring you to doubt it and be wrong.



Anyway, on to the fantasy: Whenever I hear "Cousins" I think the same thing: How awesome it would be if Vampire Weekend took a break from being critically lauded and fawned over worldwide and hide out under another name playing twitchy punk music. Looking at me or the screen like this is crazy will not accomplish anything, especially since there's a precedent for this. Anyone remember Quasar? No, of course you don't, because the odds are you were like ten when the Beastie Boys pulled that awesome stunt. Still, that doesn't mean it hasn't happened before, so maybe it can happen again.

This leaves us with "Diplomat's Son", which, with it's strings, tropics conjuring beat and six minute length seems anything but hard. On it's face, even I think I'm kind of crazy for calling the song punk, but just hear me out. Everything that goes into it is a two-fisted flip of the bird, a glorious six minute "Fuck you" from the band to its critics that won't stop harping on the whole "rich kids playing syncopated rhythms" thing. The band didn't necessarily mean it to be that, but from the M.I.A sample to the "Pressure Drop" breakdown on a Casio keyboard (which adds the jab of being a nostalgic/ironic callback to our toys of yore) of all things to the lyrics about living the good life on an island paradise thanks to a friend with political functionary parents, they take their perceived weaknesses and just like on "Cousins" dare you to call them wrong. Now if that isn't punk, what is?

(Video courtesy of Stereogum)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Catapulting To Fame Because A Funny Guy Thinks I'm Clever

(picture via GottaTopic)
Keep reading, it'll make sense soon

One of the great things about the city is that there's so much free shit going on. For instance, if you've got a friend with some initiative and you're willing to take a day away from your mindless job and stand outside in the slowly dropping temperatures for upwards of three hours, you can go to The Daily Show! You should do it by the way, because it's totally worth it to see how the TV magic is made. For instance: they do the whole show in one take. Incredible really. You figure there would be a line flubbed here or there, but no, they push the no do-overs rule to its limit at Comedy Central. You could also perhaps play a small part in television history, like I did.

So on Tuesday night, after waiting in the cold, me and my friends Tim, Conal and JP (who has no internet presence but that's OK) walked into the magical Daily Show studio. It was small but contained huge amounts of stuff, cameras everywhere connected to expensive looking equipment and other bright shiny things. After we sat down, I noticed an enormous tripod with a monitor attached at one end and what looked like a telescoping rod with a camera at the end on the other side. Since I can only think about destruction, I mentioned it looked a little bit like a catapult, wondered aloud if the crew had ever converted the tripod into one. "But you know, not just a regular one, what's the French one called?" I asked

"Oh, you mean a trebuchet?" JP said.

This was exactly what I was thinking of and I got more excited because I finally knew how to pronounce the word. We sat around for a little while longer, listening to the pump up music, which included Bon Jovi and Jimi Hendrix and BOSTON, get louder and louder to the point where we had to shout to talk to each other. Eventually the warm up act came on and made some unlucky audience members feel very uncomfortable, before introducing us to Jon Stewart, for a promised quickie Q and A session before the show started taping. After the rapturous applause died down, he asked if we had any questions and I immediately raised my hand. Cable TV's best fake news anchor looked right at me, pointed and then-

"CAN I HAVE A JOB?" Yes, some uncouth bastard stepped on my question to ask for a job. Because that's how things work in TV, you show up in the audience and ask for a job and are granted one. Stewart humored him, asked him what he did ("TV producer") and then asked him what he'd produced.

"Um, not much."

"Well then I don't think I can do much for you," was the last word in that particular interaction. I thought I was going to have find that dude after the show for stepping on me, but Jon Stewart turned right back to me. "Yes, you had a question."

Now or never. I pointed to the tripod. "I was just curious, has anyone in the crew ever tried to convert that thing into a trebuchet." My friends laughed and we waited for an answer.

"Wait a what? What the hell is a trebuchet?"

"It's a catapault. Well it's a little different, but it's a catapault."

From there it became the perfect forum to watch two Jews argue as Stewart remained perplexed and I gestured wildly at the tripod, tried to explain that JP had just taught me the word and attempted anything else to hold my own and get my point across that we had been talking about trebuchets before the show.

"Right, but what's so special about a French catapault?" Stewart finally asked.

JP came in with an awesome save. "It surrenders more easily."

The audience laughed, Stewart laughed, pointed at her and said "You're hired." Take that, job guy!

A couple more questions were asked before Stewart walked over to his desk, and some kind of director or something gave us the countdown to cheer wildly. He hit one, the theme music hit and everyone went wild. Then, this happened:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Intro - Trebuchet
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

I just about floated out of my seat. I hit JP on the arm and laughed harder then anyone in the room, then watched the show with a grin plastered to my face. During the breaks between segments JP and I high fived and all I would talk about was the trebuchet joke.

I'm not going to sit here and say I'm famous now, but I will say that this follows a pattern than I always seem to follow, which is if given an opportunity to showboat in front of famous people or cameras I will absolutely make something happen. It's not very often, but this isn't the first time for something like this. When I was seventeen and had blue hair, I got to be the face of the globalization protests on UPN when I told the person interviewing me that, "Fair is fair. If [the cops] get riot gear, we should get riot gear too." When Sean Hannity showed up at a protest against the surge, in Times Square, I got on "Hannity's America" by doing the exact opposite of the people screaming curses at him. I started chanting "Hannity is a hero" and he came over and put his arm around me and called a fan. Before you get all angry, I also got my anti-war sign in the shot. Mission accomplished.

So if I can offer advice to any aspiring famewhores, it would be to look for the odd in the situation. Find your own trebuchet reference and run with it, and maybe you'll be telling friends and family that you wrote the first joke on that night's Daily Show. What? It's kind of true.

Oh, and don't be like the asshole that asked for a job. Or if you do, at least bring your resume with you. Jesus.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Your Sports Analogy Is Bad And You Should Feel Bad

In looking for the best way to mark the Democrats blowing it in a place that is so liberal it's known as TAXachusetts, I immediately bypassed rage, because it's just useless at this point. I could talk about how it sure is interesting that despite having a 59-41 advantage in the Senate, the Bizarro World rules of our legislature has apparently turned them into the minority party, but I don't care. We all knew Ben Nelson's dithering was going to screw us in the end, and unless he comes out as some kind secret Republican in a WWE-like unveiling, pyrotechnics and all, said dithering is even more sad than it originally was.

Instead I'm going back to my point from last night that political types just can't do this sports analogy thing right. Witness a hapless campaign staffer (and I say that with respect and sympathy) speaking to Slate last night:

"Right now, we're fourth and long," said Don Murphy, a staffer for a Republican who's running for Congress in true-blue Maryland. "If Brown wins, we're third and long, but our odds greatly improve."

Don Murphy, you have got to be kidding me. How do you go from fourth and long to third and long in consecutive plays? You do not. But that's what it sounds like you're saying. Is it supposed to mean it's a new game and a new situation entirely? Then just say that it's a new game. Also, duh, your odds improve because you have two downs as opposed to one to reach your goal. Just leave that out of the analogy. Now I'm going to put this analogy together in about the most complicated way possible because I'm petulant and can't handle losing.

It was third and long for the Maryland Republican party, like third and fifteen. They reached deep in the playbook for a pass play that netted them oh, let's say six yards, because anything under third and five is actually third and short. Except, whoops, the refs called it an incomplete catch, which I guess in politics is like counting early poll numbers as set in stone? Sure. So now it's fourth and fifteen. But now that Scott Brown has won, it means the Massachusetts Republican party...threw a challenge flag? Sure, that works. And the play on the field, Ted Kennedy being dead and replaced by a gaffe-bot, is overturned and Scott Brown is ruled to be the Senator in play with both feet in bounds. Anyone see a problem here?

It's still fourth and nine! It still cannot possibly be third and long because the refs don't just give you an extra down if you ask for it. To reiterate: you can't pick up a down from a penalty. You can lose one however, for intentional grounding. And we all know the political equivalent of intentional grounding is just desperately heaving a sports reference (the football) when still between the news item of the moment and the big sport currently being played (the tackle box) so as to avoid looking silly in front of the media (blitzing safety). So actually what poor Don Murphy did here is turn the ball over on downs to the Democrats. Better luck next year kid.

Hey Coakley! UR Doin' It Wrong!

The fact that the Massachusetts Democratic machine didn't have a plan in mind for Ted Kennedy's death, like maybe a vat-grown thing called "Ned Hennedy", is proof enough they are completely terrible. Relying on Martha Coakley is just further proof of how worthless they are, like if your friend decides he can totally lose the cops and he should because, no it's cool I only had two beers but I don't want to explain that to them.

So should we really be surprised some state functionary (Attorney General, whatever) tries to win points on sports yak radio and totally muffs it? No, we should not. One should be annoyed at the pandering but not the factual inaccuracy.

What is truly rage inducing is, well, first off being dumb enough to be following this race. Second though is reading a passage like this, from The Boston Globe (found via Alternet):

Coakley, in an interview yesterday in Boston after addressing a breakfast meeting of commercial real estate developers [Emphasis added], said she believes that the climate is changing, that human activity is to blame for much of the change, and that the time for action is now.

Commercial real estate developers? Your opponent is out there driving around an original fucking Model-T built by Henry Ford himself and you're having breakfast with the kind of rich dickheads that got us into this mess. Awesome, great, raises and HJs all around. Where is your sense, any Massachusetts Democrat? Go meet with unions and poor people to trick them into voting for you, then you take the corporate money once you're safely in. I mean, it's not like you're going to govern.

Christ. The psychic toll of being a Met fan and a liberal is starting to become too much to take.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hey MTA, I've Got Something You Can Suck On

However, it is not my cock, nor any cock, because some people enjoy playing around with sweaty cock in their mouths and that is also totally normal. Sometimes I wonder about the efficacy of that insult. But we're getting off track here. Nor is the thing for you the barrel of a gun, because that could be seen as a threat. Instead, please amuse yourselves by sticking this 40.6" Hand Forged Samurai Sword in your mouths (every mouth at the MTA) because your shenanigans are too much to deal with on any given night, especially one where I'm actively trying to get somewhere.

And to think, none of this awful teeth grinding frustration would have happened if the Retail Jerk (a wholly owned subsidiary of Cerberus Capital) still had shifts that went until 1 A.M. See, getting off work at one in the morning, that breaks your spirit, makes you wanna just go home and die. Ah, but midnight, you're pissed and wanna blow off that steam. So off I went to see the excellent Luke Rathborne play a free show at The Living Room. Surely I would see most of the show, since the F train is only a ten minute ride.

WRONG ANSWER! The MTA, in its infinite wisdom, managed to schedule track work on the F line this weekend, a weekend of track work apocalypse. Which means getting to the LES from Brooklyn Heights took 50 minutes. What should have been a four stop jaunt became a seven stop odyssey, one that started with an evil portent when a work train sat halfway out of and halfway in the station for 5 minutes doing nothing, with an awaiting F train just hanging out in the tunnel, taunting me. And you best believe the train didn't run at normal speeds the entire way. Hell, the only reason I got there to see any of the set was because those jerks tied themselves in so many track work knots that they were forced to run the J through Broadway-Nassau. Had it not been for that, I probably would have missed the whole show.

Of course, this would be a relatively minor incident if it weren't for the fact that tomorrow I get to experience the joy of the three train commute because the G train is shut down for the entire goddamn weekend and the A is running locally. So it's Bushwick to Brooklyn Heights via the M to the J to the F. Good old MTA alphabet/cyanide soup, served up just the way mom made it.

And for the record, fuck the bus. I pay for trains, I want trains.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Come On New York, We Can Do Better!

How is it that everyday (the last two days) I wake up, I'm confronted with news about my state/region that makes me cry out to the Lord for mercy? Don't I live here because it's great and it's the center of the Universe and that allows me to look down on everyone else in this great land, from the tip top of Maine to Baja California? At least I thought that's why I lived here.

Apparently not though, considering I woke up yesterday to find that motherfucking New Jersey became the first state in the tri-state area (NY, NJ and that made up one) to legalize medical marijuana. Sure it's full of cop-outs and legislators are already barricading themselves with language like this:

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat from Princeton who sponsored the legislation, said New Jersey’s would be the most restrictive medical marijuana law in the nation because it would permit doctors to prescribe it for only a set list of serious, chronic illnesses. The law would also forbid patients from growing their own marijuana and from using it in public, and it would regulate the drug under the strict conditions used to track the distribution of medically prescribed opiates like Oxycontin and morphine. Patients would be limited to two ounces of marijuana per month.

Still, it's medical marijuana and it's fuckmook New Jersey beating us to it. It's like when they tried to steal the Statue of Liberty out from under us. Is it on your license plate? No, it is not. STILL HAVE NOT FORGIVEN THAT LAWSUIT ASSHOLES!

Then of course, there's Harold Ford, who I really wish would just walk into traffic while listening to his iPod a little too loud. God, this asshole. Remember how he could only get sympathy from Democrats when this happened?

And now he deserves to be the junior Senator from New York. Despite, you know, not living here for very long considering he ran for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. Even better, it turns out he's a greedy vampire working for Merrill Lynch making at least a million dollars a year. Surely he will have the interests of the working man in mind if he somehow manages to claw his way back to DC. Hey Harold, I know you think you can make New Yorkers think you're Derek Jeter, but it isn't going to work. Why would anyone vote the Yankees starting shortstop into Congress when they have no backup? Not to mention dude's range is deteriorating every season. Just give it up Ford, you make me want to move to Maine and buy a cabin with lots of guns.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Where's Your Cliche Post Title Now, Fred Phelps?

It either says something about how Fred Phelps' stock has fallen in car-crash media circles or how few people read Byron Crawford's blog that no one seems to have noted with terrific irony that God snowed out his planned harassment of not merely people with questionable taste in music, but also gay high school students. As per Mr. Crawford:

I really was gonna pull a Chris Brown on Fred Phelps today, but the protest was canceled. It's snowing pitchforks and dreaded n-word babies here in the STL. I wonder if it'll clear up in time for the Lady Gaga concert. No homo.

Sucks for Phelps and his suspiciously large-schnozzed granddaughter. I guess Choine, the snow-nymph, won an arm wrestling match with Jesus.