Archive for the writing Category

so David Byrne is the worst public speaker in the world

Posted in neither, writing with tags , , , , on September 23, 2009 by MonsoonSeason

hey gaaaaang

I went to see David Byrne speak at barnes and nobles on 17th yesterday, 9-22-09, after a friend mentioned that he might be signing stuff. I went to other music, bought the ONLY David Byrne album they had (which was the relatively uneventful soundtrack to “young adam” entitled “lead us not into temptation”) and did a one-two step to the b&n 4th floor. unbeknownst to me, Byrne has just finished writing a book entitled “Bicycle Diaries,” which I guess is about his touring around the world with a bike, the best bike in the world. I guess that’s not a bad premise and there has been worse CNF, but it’s not exactly on the top of my reading list for two reasons:

1. they only had it in hardback for like 28 bucks, way too poor for that
2. David Byrne is a surprisingly bad speaker and didn’t motivate me to buy the book

it’s not entirely his fault though, considering that the event wasn’t so much for his book as it was a call-to-arms for people to continue biking. or that bumper car jetpacks are on the way. let me explain.

when my friend and I arrived, we sat down and waited a very, very long time for a speaker to step to the mic and remind the audience that david byrne was here to talk about bikes, and not about music. dang. but I mean whatever, the dude made the talking heads, let’s listen to his bike spiel, eh? so twenty more minutes whizz by like a lackadaisical zeppelin and then david comes to the mic. after some technical issues, he uhs and ums his way through an introduction, the product of which is a slideshow.

he proceeds to talk for about half an hour about the slides, not really using them to enhance his speech, but just sort of commenting. an example:

(a picture of grass underneath an elevated highway)
byrne: so this is a picture of… it’s… like there’s just no culture under here, and–but in seattle, they built a skatepark (Burnside) underneath one of these, but that’s the exception. you can’t really talk to people under–or, meet people, I mean–when you have these monoliths over top of you and… it’s just fucking surreal, right?

and this is supposed to be how biking will bring a city “back to its roots.” just fyi dudes, that’s the way to do it.

it seemed like every slide started the same. David would look at it, kind of surprised, and stumble his way through his thoughts on the matter. it was as if a mild acquaintance of his had interrupted his first sip of coffee in the morning to ask him his opinion on a very broad topic. like, “hey david, what do you think about punk rock?” I’d be pretty shaky too.

but I think the main issue here is, is pushing biking really going to improve everything? don’t get me wrong, I like bikes and green transportation movements, but the message I got is that if we all rode bikes, we would constantly be having interesting experiences and we’d make friends all day and the local economy would grow into a beautiful old elm tree, but that can’t be the case. and it shouldn’t be the case! I don’t want to know everybody, and I’m pretty sure not everyone wants to stop at every roadside stand or attraction simply “because it looks interesting.” we’ve things to do, mr. byrne!

his support was a totally wackjob… I don’t actually know what his title would be. he comes up with preposterous inventions that would never catch on, such as a jetpack encased in air bladders so that the user would never be hurt, and he presents them in I guess meetings like this. and he gets laughed at, by everybody, because he tries to make a house out of meat cells to make a bio-efficient house. it’s things like this that make me realize that I might not be as liberal and left as I once thought I was, but it doesn’t matter now because I’m apathetic. towards everything. STAUNCHLY.

the other two supporting folks were just political… wait for it… TALKING HEADS. OH YEAHHHHHHHHHHH

needless to say, I won’t be seeking out mr. byrne in a non-musical fashion any time soon, but I do hope that one guy’s jetpack idea gets off the ground somehow. I wants me a jetpack.

the most horrible thing

Posted in writing with tags on January 26, 2009 by MonsoonSeason

hay internet, slow news month for me.

meredith gran of octopus pie just launched a new site, The Most Horrible Thing, based on this comic.  it’s pretty amusing!  you should kill some time with it, if you’re a time killing type.  I wish the third panel was added, but that might be too many dialogue boxes for people to fill out, and then they won’t want to do it.  regardless, faces are priceless.

here’s one I made!

tmht

I’ll think more about posts and posting materials and interesting things to talk about

the best of 2008

Posted in music, neither, writing with tags , , , , , on January 8, 2009 by MonsoonSeason

I’m not going to write this:

“as 2008 closes we must reflect on the dramatic effect of things that blah blah blah”

that is boring and nobody likes that.  I’m not even going to really write about it, because who cares?  it was good, that’s enough.  this is what was good in 2008:

best album – hercules and love affair 

hercules cover

I can’t tell you how many times I blasted blind

best live show – devo @ mccarren pool, june 26

Devo

more unbelievable than I thought (and I was stargazing)

best book I read – the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by mark haddon

curious incident

yes I know it came out in 2003, I just now read it

best webcomic – octopus pie

octopus pie

meredith gran has created more realistic, likable, and genuinely interesting characters in such a short amount of time

biggest deal – come on

OBAMA

score a billion for the civil rights movement why don’t you

ghostbusters fanfiction + a venture into local bands + what happened to punk rock that matt & kim was the most raucous band and didn’t have any guitars

Posted in music, neither, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2008 by MonsoonSeason

here we go again with the hiatuseseses

sorry internet, but I was busy riding a bike from new york to delaware in order to surprise my family vacationing at the beach. I rolled up on ’em towards the end of the annual 4th of july parade along bethany beach, de. tears were shed and beers were shared.

anyhow, onto things that matter to everyone that isn’t just me and my family:

cringe @ freddy’s, july 9

it all started with my addiction/nemesis twitter

twitter, for those not in the know, is a simple update aggregator for normal joes who like the concept of liveblogging, but never have the stones to keep up with it. you basically put down what you’re doing and/or thinking every few hours or minutes and follow all of your friends who are doing the exact same thing. normally, that sort of gimmick-y web 2.0 nonsense doesn’t jive with me, but twitter has such a laid back, don’t-install-applications attitude that it is endeared to me. it’s the internet equivalent of talking to a plant, your plant, in the middle of a public garden.

so I was weeding out the odd followers keeping track of my plant rambling when I stumbled across sarah brown, creator of the cringe reading series. the idea of cringe was interesting, seemingly funny: people read diaries and bad goth poetry and everybody drinks alcohol. it was like what I did back home during college (and will continue to do so probably). and it so happened that the first wednesday of every month, it was going down at freddy’s, which is like three blocks away.

but I’ll catch it next month, because the avett brothers, my favorite bluegrass/punk rock outfit, was playing a free show at stuyvesant high school for the river to river festival. OR SO I THOUGHT

a smoking girl around the area (both in activity and attractiveness) told me that they were sold out, inquiring if I knew other things in the area. I told her that I was thinking about cringe, but when she asked where that was, I told her I was clueless. oh well. my lovely male friend sam called and I had him give me directions, and then went to it with my friend rachel (also attractive I’m such a ladies man fuck).

situated in a seedy dive surrounded by warehouses and brownstones in a maybe-this-isn’t-a-great-neighborhood part of park slope (!), freddy’s is the kind of bar where you instantly don’t feel welcome. there’s a bunch of regulars drinking a bunch of regular drinks, a jukebox blaring peaches that nobody pays attention to, and off-putting wall decor. eventually, we made our way to the back room, which sort of looked more like an employees-only entrance, to hear a tale of a girl having sex with a guy in a sleeping bag.

the stories, as advertised, were painfully embarrassing and compelling. when a guy broke out his hand-painted ghostbusters fan fiction, it reminded me of the zine style hand drawn comics I did in third grade. the first, hand man, was about a superhero hand that fought the evil dr. foot. the other, slick, was about a retarded snake in a bow tie that got everything wrong. I only knew how to draw snakes and hands and feet, so the stories were a natural fit.

I have two large regrets about the evening, however: first, I should have come earlier; second, there won’t be another cringe next month until the middle of august, whereupon I will have already returned to indiana. problems. I hope that cringe is still going down when I move back in a year. until then, I guess I’ll just follow the tweets. on twitter. alone.

http://www.queserasera.org/cringe.html

the kiss off, the king left @ pianos july 10

here’s what I said on july 10th:

“I can’t just keep going to famous bands I’ll lose my indie rock cred let’s go to pianos it’s a nice bar”

and so I did. trolling pianos’ website allowed me to learn of a few bands I hadn’t heard of, and it was either this or cake shop. the king left sounded great on the internet, so I went there. I showed up just as cinema cinema was ending. sorry sorry guys guys, I’ll get the next set, I promise promise.

so, I sat at the main bar and played a game with the bartender. the game is called “no really I’m fine I don’t want to drink.” this game is played by looking intently at the bartender until he looks back at you. then, you raise your wallet (you have to be holding your wallet or purse for this to work) and nod at the bartender. the bartender will acknowledge your glance, stall a moment, then turn back to his glass polishing or talk to other customers. occasionally, he will take other orders that have walked up to the bar far away from where he’s standing. after ten-fifteen minutes of gametime, he’ll reluctantly ask you if you want anything, whereupon you should give him a sugary smile and say “no really I’m fine I don’t want to drink at all.” he’ll nod and walk away.

oh wait don’t do that at all. also, if your bartender is a long-haired semi-muscular guy with condescending eyebrows, tell him that he’s a fucking asshole. or wait, nevermind, you won’t get that far. he’s too busy with HIS HEAD up HIS OWN ASS.

the guy in pianos’ show room, however, is way more amiable. he serves you drinks promptly and smiles.

I got to the show too late to see cinema cinema (sorry dudes), only just arriving as the kiss off graced the stage. they had a very approachable, marketable sound. if whole foods made tv commercials that were generally upbeat and featured 20-30somethings making food, maybe feeding their kids. in short, nothing like a kiss off whatsoever.

they sounded clear, vocally-driven, and beat heavy, if not light. it did the trick, if not generically. the only component that seemed out of place, sonically and physically, was the guitarist. it seemed as if guitars were added as an afterthought, adding little squiggles in and random notes, which I suppose was placed in to make the music feel less sleek. plus, the guy was dressed in all back, with a golden cross and geddy lee of rush’s hair. everybody else was just dressed like some dudes you would see at a bar. he was… creepy.

the king left, who I told the cheery ticket-taker I was here to see, came next. they liked radiohead. a lot. the singer had a tiny tattoo of the people shaking hands from the cover of ok computer, they list it as an influence, and they sounded exactly like radiohead if they decided to have a distinctively positive sound. maybe like pablo honey, but with depressing lyrics. I don’t know really what’s more to say. they were good, they just didn’t impress me.

it’s an interesting thing I’m learning about local new yawk bands–they’re by and large impressive, talented people, but with so many impressive, talented people, the music just sort of melts into a sonic soup. a delicious sonic soup, but one that has so similar ingredients that each bite just tastes the same. what I’m come to realize is that if you’re going to go to a rock and roll show in this town, you’re probably going to have a good time. you’re going to drink a few overpriced liquors, contemplate purchasing band materials, and never feel bad about leaving a little bit early. it’s just something to kill some time–not an event.

which is what I did during motel motel (what’s with the repeating band name thing? man man, the ting tings, the aforementioned cinema cinema?). I watched a few songs, took some pictures, noted that they were technically proficient but not entirely accomplished songwriters, and left. I bought some falafel, and caught the F train as soon as I entered the station, but it felt bittersweet getting on. Even with all this good music, catching the train home without having to wait half an hour was the highlight of the evening.

http://www.myspace.com/thekissoffnyc
http://www.myspace.com/thekingleft
http://www.myspace.com/motelmotel 

f yeah fest @ club exit july 13

I take it back, I found an event

the highly anticipated f yeah fest finished their tour right in sleepy greenpoint, brooklyn, at a club that usually doesn’t have a lot of shows. club exit: a dance club with no ground floor, a swirling, psychedelic popsicle of a club, multi-tiered with a beautiful frosted-glass bar. who would have thought that it would house the most raucous, ham-fisted, drooling-lunatic punk rock show of the summer?

I arrived late, but whatevs, clubs always start late. japanther took an extra half hour to set up, focusing less on their instruments and more on their large banner that kept falling down. sadly, it’s what happens when you try to hang a giant cloth with scotch tape. I watched and had a beck’s. I forgot that beck’s was so good–I’ve been used to drinking amstel light, which is apparently the grown-up hipster beer, after they’ve stopped desiring chug-a-lug nights fueled by pbr.

these thoughts danced in my head until I finally realized that I forgot my camera at home. “shit,” I thought. “shit shit shit. the one show that I wanted to take pictures of.” I tried to justify that, if I bought a funsaver from the corner deli, that the pictures would be lo-fi, and thus ironic or something, and thus fit the ramshackle nature of the f yeah tour. having reviewed the pictures, I was wrong, and I wasted my nine dollars, but I’m still contemplating putting them on flickr.

also, those visiting from flickr: hello!

so I got back just as japanther was starting. I’ll be the first to say it I JUST KNOW IT but I thought the drummer’s stage banter was fucking terrible. he just kept telling us where the band was from, changing it sporadically, and telling us that their music was “just rock and roll.” yeah, dude, I got it. you’re just rock and roll. it’s apparent through your fucking music. just shut up and please continue rocking me.

and rock me they did. they play a fists-up, adolescent screaming match, singing songs about girls, about eating hot dogs on a beach and then swimming, about nighttime, and it sounds very much like a confused teenager not knowing how to vent his thoughts, and it sounds very awesome. the music, as barked at the audience several times during his banter, is incredibly no-frills: it is guitar; it is drums. it’s the sonics with less members on 2x speed; it’s white blood cells-era white stripes with no pretense. it is loud, and fast, and the perfect band to start off the last location of the f yeah tour.

next up, team robespierre, strewn about on the floor like dan deacon. I remember thinking that they weren’t that great when I heard them on myspace, but god damn if they didn’t make the party go live. during japanther, most of the kids just banged their head, but team r had everyone pushing and shoving in the second most gleeful happinesspit of the night.

let me explain: a happinesspit is something that occurs when everybody is having a genuinely great time, and instead of running into each other, the crowd just surges back and forth, smiling and laughing. if you get hit in the face, so what? they didn’t mean it! it’s just a good time for everybody! this phenomenon is usually aided by the use of a keyboard.

how to describe what team r does? the vocals range from white boy rapping to blood brothers (rip) style yelps to sultry soul singing. the keys squiggle and dance, but they also lead the rest of the music. the drums and guitars struggle to dictate the pace. the lead singer/rapper/guy is so charismatic, as well–he walks through the crowd, hugging kids, inviting them to sing with him, jumping up and down. it’s a colorful explosion, a burst of energy, perfect for 100 second party starters, with the perfect running time of 30-35 minutes.

also on the floor were monotonix, who are fucking terrible. but that doesn’t stop them from having a good time! butt rock metal mixed with an insane gg allin growler had the kids shaking it, but I couldn’t get with it. it was definitely funny to watch them cavort around, climb on stuff. the highlight of the set came when a bass drum was lifted in the air, the drummer climbed on top of his bass drum, sat down, and played the snare and crash drums, which were also held up by the crowd. almost all of the players and their pieces were aloft at one point or another, until monotonix was all but an unpleasant, awkward memory, washed away by the sea of humanity at club exit.

up next, paint in black. punk rock. unimpressive.

after them, the highlight of my night, brooklyn’s own matt & kim. there can’t be much said about the duo that hasn’t been said better elsewhere: they’re married, they made a band on a whim, kim is an enthusiastic drummer, matt talks a lot and is super damn excited, and they are cute, super cute, but without being nauseating like mates of state. they slam their head, talk about friends and happy stuff, and generally have a good time.

almost too good of a time. the happinesspit for matt & kim was out of control, the whole club seemingly crammed in and surging in the delight of matt & kim. I was thankful to be in the thick of it, even if this meant getting a big puffy spot below my eye and breaking my glasses. I was having a great time, trying my damndest with the funsaver to take brilliant pictures, and not caring about my failure. it was bliss–the most punk rock, throwdown bliss ever.

when the closer of their set came in, with “silver tiles,” matt didn’t even have to tell us that the song was about brooklyn–we all knew. when he refered to “all our hopes and all our friends,” he wasn’t just singing about the people they know personally, he was s speaking about everyone in the room, and everyone that we knew. it was touching, endearing, and totally fuck-yeah fun.

but after that I couldn’t see anything because my glasses were fucked so I went home. sorry dillinger 4 and circle jerks. I’ll catch you next time: same f yeah tour, same f yeah venue.

http://www.myspace.com/japanther
http://www.myspace.com/teamrobespierre
http://www.myspace.com/monotonix
http://www.myspace.com/paintitblack
http://www.myspace.com/mattandkim 

endgame— (pause) a review of it. (pause) by the playwright Samuel Beckett. (pause)

Posted in writing with tags , , , on June 8, 2008 by MonsoonSeason

perhaps I shouldn’t have started with what is commonly considered Beckett’s masterwork; but, I’m glad I didn’t.

other than having seen a film adaptation of “waiting for godot,” I’m completely unfamiliar with the work of Samuel Beckett.  I know that he’s irish, a nobel prize winner, and a champion (perhaps, founder?) of the theater of the absurd, but I’m not familiar with any of his other works.

over memorial day weekend, I went stoop sale-ing in order to find some cheap garments, books, cds, etc.   I came across a copy of “endgame,” and realizing that I hadn’t read Beckett before, bought it for two dollars.

I read it in one sitting—not a feat, considering that it’s only 84 pages, with a mime entitled “act without words” clocking in at a teensy 5 pages.  from what I have gathered, it’s a tale about four people (hamm, a blind invalid; clov, a submissive young man with the inability to sit; nagg, a brutish head in a jar, father to hamm; nell, wife of nagg, also a head) that hate each other living in a house on the brink of oblivion.  either nuclear holocaust or the end of days or what have you.

it’s different from most plays I’m used to.  for starters, there’s a pause after almost every line of dialogue, written specifically in the dialogue.  coupled with that, the dialogue almost makes no sense.  text go:

NAGG:
   Could you not?
   (Pause.)
   Would you like me to scratch you?
   (Pause.)
   Are you crying?

NELL:
   I was trying.
   (Pause.)

HAMM:
   Perhaps it’s a little vein.
   (Pause.)

I’m not entirely sure why the pauses are so frequent.  I could surmise that the characters just simply hate each other and are trying to cling to their humanity by making small talk, but that interpretation doesn’t seem realistic.  it seems more like they’re just trying to pass, day by day, and bicker amongst themselves in order to feel alive.  as hamm says upon hearing that nagg is crying, “…he’s living.”

what is undeniable is the humor of the piece.  it’s very quick, dry, intensely sardonic humor, but it occasionally had me burst out in laughter.  mostly nagg; nagg is the comic glue that holds the piece together.  he has the ability to turn his child-like behavior on and off, when it seems warranted, in order to get what he wants out of each situation.  of course, he always fails, which brings even more levity into the situation: 

NAGG:
   I want me Pap!

HAMM:
   Give him a biscuit.
   (Exit Clov.)
   Accursed fornicator!  How are your stumps?

NAGG:
  Nevermind me stumps.
  (Enter Clov with biscuit)

CLOV:
   I’m back again, with the biscuit.
  (He gives biscuit to Nagg, who fingers it, sniffs it.)

NAGG (plaintively): 
   What is it?

CLOV:
   Spratt’s medium.

NAGG (as before):
   It’s hard!  I can’t!

again, with the egregious amount of nonstandard English diction rife in “endgame,” it’s a tough cookie to crack; but if you just allow the piece to run its course and not question it, it becomes even funnier.  like a joke your heard other people tell who would then uproar into gasping laughter, you’ll just want to join in to feel like you’re conscious of the humor, too.

the message I still haven’t quite figured out, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to.  “endgame” is first and foremost an experimental piece, delving into the psyche of the deranged and attempting to discern humor therein.  it almost feels like a character study, which, in my mind, makes it even more interesting theatre—studying and playing simultaneously.

give it a shot.

mcsweeney’s 26 is not a huge crock of shit but it has its moments

Posted in music, neither, writing with tags , , on April 25, 2008 by MonsoonSeason

that’s the short review, long one to follow

first things first:  at the beginning of april, I won ten thousand dollars in the form of the letterman scholarship.  so I’ve been busy freaking out and also working on all the schoolwork I put off in order to film the winning entry.  you are allowed to watch it on the internet, or at my house, but the internet is usually closer (pro-tip:  you’re there now!).  the name of the video is “Unbeatable: The Making of ‘Winning the Scholarship'”:

http://www.youtube.com/user/MonsoonSeason
http://www.vimeo.com/user406598

adoption. is also on the youtube page, but it’s not very good.  actually, it’s pretty good, but not as pretty good as Unbeatable.

okay music time:

i love the bloody beetroots

http://rapidshare.com/files/110338769/05-the_bloody_beetroots-public_enemy.mp3.html

they’re an italian electro band that sounds a lot like a french electro band.  this is a smart track–nice and buzzy, but not necessarily an annoying, overbearing rock focused track.  the vocals are really odd, too.  it just sounds like a black dude talking behind the song, and occasionally a squirrel pipes in to say hello.

okay so about mcsweeney’s:  a lot of the stories are very strong, but some are lacking the crucial element of relevance.  I’m looking specifically at porcus omnivorous, which reads much like a historical account of a serbian family.  it’s interesting, but not necessarily memorable; like a really delicious piece of toast:  “how did this toast get so delicious?  is it the bread?  it must be the bread.  whatever, it’s just toast, on with my day.”  

another particularly pointless story is the one that kicks off the ‘overseas’ booklet (mcsweeney’s 26 comes in three books: overseas, stories from our shore, and informative hardback text on countries which we should invade next ie: greatest threats, which I’m still not sure if it is supposed to be taken seriously), Black Shaman, is a magical realist story about a lesbian shaman resurrecting a Kazhak guy, who then both get killed by redneck truckers.  I was just waiting, rapt in anticipation, for the story to come to order.  I like the idea of ghosts coming back to life, but it didn’t seem like the author had ever been to Kazhakistan; which I realize is fallacy, because the author is FROM Kazhakistan, but perhaps that explains why I take issue with the story.

but the good stories were great!  there’s a great one about pikeys; Joe in Spain; Sleep.  all very interesting.

it has recently occurred to me that gawker does not like mcsweeney’s very much, more to point dave eggers.

okay on your way

also

Posted in writing on March 26, 2008 by MonsoonSeason

new mcsweeney’s quarterly came in today. I’m not sure about the “who to invade next” hardcover, but I think the two smaller books are dapper.

a review of stories forthcoming