Weekend Update: Long Holiday Edition

"Yes! Yes! Yes!" — kid on the subway to Coney Island
The most was made of the long four-day Fourth of July weekend, involving all the things I like to do: eat, drink, see bands, movies, dance, and… minor league baseball! As rain seemed to threaten every day, my camera stayed at home and only took a couple snaps with the phone.

Summer hours took effect, so I left work at 1PM. My girlfriend and I bummed around Bed Bath & Beyond for a bit and then had a late lunch at Momofuku. I am a fan of this place, though not the soups for which they are mostly known. Too salty. But just about everything else there is good. We ordered some pork buns, fresh pickles (including ramps, baby carrots, and beans) and  two dishes from the Greenmarket menu: a salad of beats and green beans, and sauteed sugarsnap peas with bacon. Momofuku stays packed all the time now, even at 3:30 in the afternoon.

We then bummed around, went to Trader Joes and Whole Foods to nibble on free samples before heading to Prospect Park for TV on the Radio, Matt Pond, PA and Voxtrot. We got there early enough to have snagged actual seats, but we brought a picnic blanket and food, so laid out a spread on the grass just right of the sound tent.

As popular as  Voxtrot are in NYC, I don’t think they’re ready to make the move to any venue bigger than Bowery Ballroom (which is where they’re bound to play next) any time soon, if Friday night was any indication. They seemed dwarfed by the size of the stage and didn’t really know how to fill it. That said, they were still good and there were lots of girls dancing like crazy within the pavilion area. Maybe it would’ve come off better if I was closer. Or maybe they’re just not that good. (I’ve wondered this before.)

This was not a problem for TV on the Radio who have become a live powerhouse and were swinging for the fences Friday night — and connected most of the time. Wow. I like them fine on record (and …Cookie Mountain is growing on me) but they just knocked it out of the park live. It didn’t hurt that there were like 20 people on stage, but even without most of them they probably could’ve held their own. Color me impressed.

(Coney Island, Tequila, Strangers With Candy, Spring Onion Sandwiches, and more Voxtrot after the jump.)

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No bonnets (or frills upon it), but Easter Eggs were made this year. You can’t just get a plain coloring kit anymore — they’re all themed with ugly shrinky-dink wrappers. What these kits really need is a second wire dipper, though we were armed with a set of rabbit-shaped Easter Egg tongs. And nobody had Paas; it was all Dudley Brand which I’m sure was just as good but nostalgia-wise it wasn’t the same.

We opted not to use the dye tablets and instead bought some food coloring and made our own blends:

Dyeing_eggsI think they all turned out pretty good, especially for not having dyed eggs for at least ten years. Camera Obscura and the Pernice Brothers are excellent music choices by which to make crafts.

Inevitably, you try to get too creative, use too many colors, and end up making one that turns out a cruddy brown. So I ate that one. As I was peeling it, I noticed that cracking the shell gave it a cool spiderweb look. Gonna have to remember it for next year:Cracked_egg

Oscar’s New Tune

HustleThis year’s Oscar nominations saw very few surprises, apart from maybe William Hurt’s Supporting Actor nod for A History of Violence. (A surprise on two counts: 1] he was in the movie for maybe five minutes, and b] was so over-the-top in it, even Al Pacino would tell him to dial it down.) The nominees for Best Song, however, are just bizarro. The first thing you notice is there are only three of them and, second, none of them totally suck. Sure, Bird York‘s "In the Deep" from Crash is a on the Paula Cole side of boring, but it’s certainly not the kind of unlistenable crap that is usually nominated. The other two nominations are actually quite good: the can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head "It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow; and the lovely "Travelin’ Thru" by Dolly Parton from Transamerica.

No Phil Collins. No Randy Newman. No Elton John. No Divas. (Dolly is in a class by herself.) There were new songs in The
that were eligible. No nominations. There were songs in Corpse Bride and
Narnia. No Nominations. Surely The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants had
some bad, nominatable numbers. (I think I just made up a word there.) But no. What’s going on? Did Academy voters suddenly start letting their kids (or grand-kids) vote for the songs? Or is something else afoot? We may never know.

Interesting trivia: Hustle & Flow‘s nominated song was originally written for Brokeback Mountain. Ultimately, Ang Lee decided "It’s Hard Out Here for a Gay Cowboy" didn’t fit the quiet tone of his film, and test audiences found the song’s title misleading.

Just Play the Hits

SnakcyFor the past three years I’ve DJ’d on New Year’s Eve at a local bar, Snacky, that’s around the corner from my apartment in Williamsburg. The owner of Snacky is Sandy Pei, who has become a good friend and someone who has really opened my tastebuds to the awesomeness of Chinese food (and Korean, Malaysian, Japanese, Taiwanese too). I used to DJ every Friday night at Snacky till I burned out, but I still pull the marathon NYE shift.

On a night like New Year’s Eve, where it seems imperative that everyone have The Best Time Ever, you really can’t, as a DJ, play what you want. You have to suck it up and play the hits. Even if you think everyone is sick of "Mr. Brightside" or "Do You Want To?" or even "Milkshake," the truth is they’re not. At least when they’re drunk.

I actually look forward to playing the hits. My friend Erich, until recently, dealt in the Top 40 world for his job and would provide me with all the big hit singles of the year to play, most of which I had never heard before.  A lot of this is hip hop, a genre I used to follow but lost interest in, then fell out of touch (Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides is probably the last hip hop record I really listened to end-to-end repeatedly). A lot of it I end up liking. "Hate it Or Love It" by the Game, for instance. (Paul Wall, not so much.) Please don’t ask how it is I has never heard this song before. I bet you haven’t heard The Mystery Jets. So there.

Playing the hits also makes things easy. There’s no more "hmm… which Gorillaz song should I play?" You play "Feel Good Inc." and watch the kids dance. Then you play The Killers and Kanye West and Kelly Clarkson. The hits.

Even with this mantra things can get in your way.

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Concert Photography is the new Yo-Yo

I was thinking about this all weekend, and then it was underlined at the Arctic Monkeys’ Mercury Lounge show. Lindsayism beat me to the post with her well-articulated manifesto, but I concur — all this taking photographs at shows is getting out of hand. And lately, I’ve been part of the problem.

Remember in elementary school when the cool kid would come into class one morning with some little new toy? I remember specifically this thing called Wacky Wall Crawlers, a sticky rubber octopus that you’d throw against a wall and it would slowly roll its way down, looking like it was alive, crawling. (This may have happened with yo-yos too, but maybe I’m just confusing my memories with The Simpsons.)  Instantly, everyone would want one, and by the end of the week nearly everyone did have one. All the kids would be wanting to play with whatever it was all the time, and eventually the principal would say you couldn’t bring them to school anymore, they had become such a distraction.

This is what it’s like going to almost any New York show these days with all the people taking photographs. I got caught up in it too. You see the amazing photographs taken by people like Brooklyn Vegan or Kathryn Yu and you think, "Hey, I’ve got a blog. I’ve got a camera. Why not me?" I actually got a crazy nice camera for Christmas last year with a battery that never seems to die and a shutter that actually takes the photo the second you hit the button, and that has made it a lot more fun to take pictures. Plus, Flickr is such an amazingly cool site, it makes taking them even more fun. So it’s hard to resist doing it. So I brought my big-ass camera to the Art Brut show at Mercury Lounge and had fun taking pictures. But so did EVERYONE else. I felt very self conscious.

But it was the next night at the Art Brut/Test Icicles show at Northsix that I really truly realized this fad — and it is a fad — has gotten completely out of hand. At one point during Test Icicles rather insane set where there were so many flashes going off, it was beginning to freak out bandmember Sam (or is it Rory… whichever one has the hair in his eyes all the time). During a song he actually leaned down and asked one particularly picture-happy dude to cool it with the flash.

Then came the Arctic Monkeys show at Mercury Lounge. There were probably at least 20 people up front with cameras. I had mine with me and took a couple shots but felt dumb holding my big camera over my head and felt like I was blocking somebody’s view. (I am one of the few dudes who seem to worry about this at shows. I am admittedly uptight.) After the second song, singer Alex Turner articulated the whole problem. "There sure are a lot of photographers here," and then went on to basically say that while it’s fun to take pictures and have these photos to prove you were there, but while you’re busy taking photos aren’t you maybe missing the show, being a part of it? I just felt stupid like I’d been called on what I already knew was stupid behavior. I put my camera back in the bag and there it stayed, though, as Lindayism stated, not many did the same. The flashes continued.

So I’m out.* I hate carrying a bag anyway, being the guy with the bulky bag at the show. Here’s my last photo taken. It’s not very good anyway:






But I do think this is a fad. Most will tire of it, and the people who are honestly good at it — like Brooklyn Vegan — will continue to take photos and that’s cool. I’ll con tine to take pictures of everything else, including food — even if bringing my big-ass camera to a restaurant is even more conspicuous than at a rock show.

I’m moving on to pogs. I hear it’s the new thing anyway.


*Knowing me, I will go back on my word and have my camera with me for some show. But it will be with good reason.