Friday, January 29, 2010


Jay Reatard was only 29 when he was found dead two weeks ago, but his output of work was massive. The dude was a songwriting machine and it wasn’t just the quantity of material, it was quality. I am a novice at best when it comes to his bands Lost Sounds and The Reatards, but his solo releases really blew me away and continue to do so. The singles he released on Matador and In The Red, and his LP’s Blood Visions and last year’s Watch Me Fall are all top notch. I saw an interview where he said that his prolific output was due to his race against time and his desire to expose his flaws, or “butt zits” as he so eloquently referred to them, to his fans and detractors alike. While some of his releases are no doubt far superior to others and I don’t claim to know his entire catalog, I’ve yet to find anything that completely misses the mark.

“Garage rock” and “lo-fi” are the ubiquitous labels attached to his music, but they aren’t really accurate. Lo-fi garage rock is rarely this well crafted and listenable. Jay hopped from speed punk to new wave to pop to the occasional ballad, and last year’s Watch Me Fall, which had even the mainstream critics flipping their shit, was a damned fine rock n roll record plain and simple. No fancy buzzword necessary.

I was sadly only able to see Jay live once; a short set at a CMJ show at the Mercury Lounge in 2007 where I was going to see The Dirtbombs. What I saw lasted only bout 15 minutes, but was exhausting and amazing. Jay, strapped with his trademark Flying V and head banging like a motherfucker, pummeled the audience with a machine gun assault of songs with little to no (if I recall correctly it was absolutely zero) space or talking in between. I don’t think I ever saw his or the bands’ faces, just long hair flying everywhere. I knew next to nothing about him going into the show, but have paid attention ever since. It’s rare for bands to have that effect live. Jay was the real deal. I don’t care to make any speculations regarding the circumstances surrounding his death or his lifestyle choices, but prefer to appreciate the tunes he left behind. Check out his cover of Beck’s “Gamma Ray,” and I dare you to get “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me” out of your heard. I can’t stop listening.

-Charlie Duerr

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Future... is here?

"Last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it" - Wall Street Journal

Everyone in this planet is all abuzz with the new Apple Tablet (iPad) in the first stages of it's press junket, and the question is: will this really be a game changer?

Some people, who aren't even in Apple's coffers has been tweeting and blogging about the device for days (because they were special and received the iPad in advance of the press release today, what about Pomp, Apple? We would have tweeted about it too... just sayin') and the word awesome was used a lot. Apparently there is a solar charger in the back (although the device will be mostly battery powered.) You can play wii games, and go on the internet, and apparently reading newspapers on it are much easier. This is where the device becomes a game changer, it's probable ability to make the e-reader marketplace more of a serious contender, by engaging more consumers because of it's Apple namesake.

I don't have all the goods, but some pictures and a link to all the people tweeting about it can do better than my biased opinions anyhow. Although the tweets range from the unimpressed: "Haven't seen anything that special about it yet." To the commercially promising, "I just want to see how much it costs and I'll get it, swearz!" (apparently $599 and $799 depending on how much memory you want)

For the curious, check out the live streaming video here.
Check out the twitter-mania here.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Circumsise Me

Even Yisrael Campbell admits getting circumsised three times comes closer to "fetish" than ritual, yet there is nothing morbid about Campbell's spiritual quest and conversion to Judaism. The star of one-man show "Circumsise Me," Campbell was born to “a manic-depressive Italian woman and a pathologically silent Irishman which makes me wildly emotional in a very quiet way.” His acerbic wit more closely resembled the Jews of my childhood than his peyes, long black coat and tfillin, but both physical and mental transformation had been Campbell's life-long quest. The story of his search is a tragicomic confession, spilling out with all the cadence and shoulder shrugging of our tribe. Is this public play entirely Kosher for a man who's gone under the knife thrice to be inducted into Orthodxy? Maybe not, but I've always loved bacon.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We thought we lost you

Every movie I saw on the plane made me cry when they played this song. I'm homesick.


Hey look! Puppies!

I like the fat one best.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Get To Ray's on Avenue A, While You Still Can

The best egg creams I've ever had come from Ray's Candy Store, which has, according to the NY Times, been open 24 hours a day for almost 40 years. I've been here a hundred times, and I'll be sad to see it go. What's standing between him and staying open until he dies? Two months overdue rent.

The landlord more than quadrupled his rent in 2000, yet he's only two months behind. The landlord's response?

"He owes rent and I asked him for it and he says he doesn’t have it."

... adding that she had no desire to oust Mr. Alvarez, but could not overlook overdue payments.

Yeah. There's nothing she can do! It's out of her hands. The rent is overdue.

If only he had been a hedge fund manager first, before opening the shop. Put aside a few million dollars for a rainy day.

Stupid Ray! He's been serving the community for almost 40 years, keeping his store open 24 hours a day, through blackouts and even the Thompkins Square Park riots, and he doesn't have enough money to pay his rent. His stupid, measly rent! Only $3,500 a month!

What a fucking idiot!

40 years of work and he doesn't have $3,500 a month to pay his rent! I mean, honestly, Ray must be a real fucking idiot to work for nearly 40 years and have nothing to show for it. Nothing in the bank, I mean.

After all, this is America! If you work hard and you're smart, you'll succeed! Your income plus your net worth is a reflection of the value you provide, a reflection of your worth as a human being, a reflection of your intelligence and the amount of work you do.

John Paulson, a hedge-fund manager, bet against the housing market back before the crash. In a single morning, Paulson made $1.25 billion dollars! With other people's money! By betting that the financial system was going to collapse! By betting that hundreds of thousands of people would lose their homes! By betting that millions of Americans would be out of a job!

John Paulson, and many others like him, made record-breaking profits by betting on (instead of trying to prevent) massive, global human misery!

See, that's smart. That's what we need. Right? I mean, clearly, people like John Paulson are much more valuable to us, to society, to humanity, to the planet, than people like Ray. We know this because money is a measure of benefit, of usefulness, of value. And the value of a man willing to bet other people's money to profit from the misery of millions... Well. It's astronomical. People like that are so valuable that they deserve to earn $1.25 billion dollars in a single morning.

But Ray? Providing food and comfort to residents of the East Village with a steadfastness that rivals the most idealistic notions we have of the post office?

Fuck that guy.

Shut his store down and send him out in to the street. He might not even get social security. Fuck that guy! The market has spoken. John Paulson is one of the most important, valuable men of all time, and Ray Alvarez is a piece of garbage.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Swimmers

Daily Show Examines New Republican Talking Point: "No Terror Attacks Under Bush Administration (Except 9/11, Which Obviously Doesn't Count)"

Over a month ago, I raged with righteous indignation about how former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino made the argument that Bush was better for national security than Obama because there hadn't been any terror attacks on Bush's watch.

Right. Except that one.

Apparently the worst terror attack in U.S. history doesn't count.

Well, it seems as though Ms. Perino was test-marketing that idea as a Republican talking point, because the talking heads are out in full force saying that Bush didn't have a single terror attack on his watch.

It gets better: When talking about Obama's record, the Underpants bomber counts, even though he was stopped, but the shoe bomber (under Bush's watch) *doesn't* count.

If it was just a few people having a conversation at a bar, it would be easy for me to roll my eyes and walk away from the conversation. But I'm all worked up about this because Fox is *broadcasting* this transparently ridiculous lie to millions of homes across the country. And call me a pessimist, but I think there are plenty of Americans dumb enough to believe it. And to repeat it to their friends and relatives when discussing politics.

Even former NYC Mayor Giuliani, Mr. "9/11" HIMSELF, talks about Bush's record on terror as though 9/11 never even happened.

Please to enjoy the Daily Show take on all this nonsense.

I said it in November and I'll say it again: If your argument is only pursuasive if you neglect to mention 9/11, you need a new argument.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The View From British Couches Two Years Ago

If you're anything like me, you love Aaron Sorkin. What could be better than two or three brilliant characters bantering quickly about current affairs while quickly walking? Remember The first three seasons of The West Wing?

Those of us who thrive on well-reasoned and humorous political discussions delivered at a brisk pace have been out in the cold for a while now. Studio 60, Sorkin's last TV project, was canceled in early 2007 and his play The Farnsworth Invention closed in 2008. (I never saw it. You still can't download theater seats for free over the internet.)

What is a Sorkin fan to do?

Well. Spurred on by my curiosity about the latest star in the world's longest-running Sci-Fi television series, I started watching Matt Smith's earlier roles. And I stumbled upon Party Animals, which follows the lives of young people working in and around the British Parliament.

You can find the shows on bittorrent... or youtube! Here is part one of episode one to get you started.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

There are myriad expensive ways to trick out and customize your laptop, but this is one of the coolest customizations I've seen to date. And at $15, it's a pretty compelling way to waste a few bucks...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fuck You, Crappy New Year

Slow motion photography... with a twist!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Top 9 of '09

Did you know that in Dhaka (Bangladesh) the New Year came twice. Once the clock struck midnight we had to roll them back for an hour and wait for the new year again. It was kind of wonderful, as impatient as I was for the new beginnings of 2010. I had a lot of time to think, for that extra hour. So I made a strangely specific list.

Biggest Issue: Healthcare Reform. It is going to be the make or break move of Obama's political career, and it feels like it may make or break most of us in our current situations. It's so strange that heads of state who don't have to worry about this kind of thing get to choose what works for the greater good.
Honorable mention: Gay marriage. 'Nuff said.

Most Keenly Felt Emotion: Disappointment. Let's be honest, we're the generation of loneliness, so that barely even registers. But because of the optimism of '08, we had some pretty high expectations for '09. I don't think they all worked out, but I'm grateful for what has. Honorable mention for what follows disappointment: determination to get back on track and not repeat mistakes.

Best Media Sneak Attack: Huffington Post has turned blogs into something that big media companies should be scared of. With pervasive presence in all subjects, most acutely, political. I'm just wondering what they might do next.

Best Apocalypse Story: In a Perfect World, by Laura Kasischke. While the rest of you may be 2012'ing it up, I am obsessed with the quiet bravery and fearlessness portrayed in this book. Forget feeling helpless as John Cusack survives earthquakes and floods. In a Perfect World has a much more realistic and therefore scarier end-of-the-world scenario. However, reading it made me feel like I can survive whatever may come.

Best DVD to Watch with Wisecracking Friends: Drag me to Hell. Don't get ready to be scared, get ready to piss your pants laughing.

Most Unlikely Internet Meme: Truly, the joy of internet meme-age is that it rarely makes sense. But David going to Dentist? C'mon... they are making t-shirts and money out of their kids drugged out freak out... I won't go into my child exploitation rant right now, but suffice to say, let it go. I'm trying...

Best New Television Show (despite AWFUL subway ads): Modern Family. Yes, those posters featuring Ed O'Neill and some other randoms, is laugh out loud funny. There is that heaping spoonful of dysfunction (which, face it, we can't live without) with a dash of good ole fashioned heart. Sounds cheesy? It is. Sounds utterly watchable? That too.

Best New Venture by Old-school Indie Darling: Taken by Trees album, East of Eden. Victoria Bergsman, formerly of the Concretes, and more recently female vocalist for Peter, Bjorn and John's Young Folks shows us time and time again that she makes great, refreshing pop tunage. But what is so great about Taken By Trees album is that it really, really sounds new. You can listen to it over and over as well.

Honorable mention: Julian Plenti, I've always had a bit of a crush on him, if his album featured fewer Interpol knock-off tracks I would have been duly impressed.

Best New Pop Enigma: Lady Gaga, you should have guessed! It has more to do with the fact that she writes meta-pop songs about just getting drunk and having sex and people taking pictures and shitty boyfriends, and less to do with the performance artist stage persona (though that helps). She will not have some strange anthem like Beautiful by Christina Aguilera which tries to sell some meaning but falls flat on it's face for sheer insincerity. This is a girl who does what she wants, and right now, I want it too!

Happy New Year!!!