Monthly Archives: October 2008

Song I’m Obsessed With

Posted by: Stella Glass

It’s not new but it’s relatively new to me. My boyfriend put it on a V-day mix this past February and I still can’t get over it. I’m not sure whether its the at-first-listen nonsensical lyrics or the guitar that sounds like its desperately trying to be cheerful but it makes me want to smoke cigarettes and drink tea in a London flat white looking out the window at the rain

Sorry this isnt an actual video, but it’s all i could find.

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Interview With Matt, Freelance Writer for Letterman

Posted by: Coco Buchanan

Matt Little is a friend of my roommate’s.  He’s a very funny comedy writer that has contributed to the David Letterman show & has just been approved to contribute to Weekend Update on SNL.  I remember once I was at his house, when I was on the computer looking for music videos, we stumbled upon a pianist named Ira Goldfarb or some such Jew-y sounding old man name, and just from that, Matt  pulled this, like, 5-minute long impromptu infomercial sketch out of his ass.  I was pretty much peeing my pants.  Matt has an upcoming show– Matt Little’s Big Show on Nov 12, 9 pm at Under St Marks Theater.

CB: Where you from & where do you stay at?
ML: FROM: Beaver County, PA.  STAY AT: My apartment in 11211, which I believe is ACTUALLY Williamsburg in name only.  Guys, don’t let the real estate brokers fool you!  Williamsburg is, in reality, much smaller than people would lead you to believe.

CB: Who is your Daddy, and what does he do?
ML: Allen; a pipefitter.  He likes it when you call him a plumber.  Try it!  It’s fun to see how many swear words he can logically fit into his one-sentence reaction.

CB: What sound or noise do you love?
ML: The sound of cars transforming into robots.  Or synthesizers.

CB: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?
ML: Jeremy Piven, but only if he played me at EVERY age – including my teens.

CB: Do you think you’ve “sold out”?
ML: Bullshit term.  There’s no such thing as selling out.  That’s a preteen’s thought.  That’s like saying art is an absolutism, but it’s not.  Is that a word, absolutism?  I think so, and I didn’t get spellchecked on it.  God, I was smarter in high school when I didn’t drink.

CB: Would you welcome the opportunity to “sell out”?

ML: Of course; it’s finding a balance between jobs that pay you good money that allow you to fund what you really want to do, and giving yourself the time to do what you want to do.

CB: What are the first 5 songs on your “recently played” playlist?
ML: I usually listen to whole albums, so it would be tracks 6-10 of Dear Science, the new TV On The Radio album.  HOWEVER, let’s see what happens when I go random:
Zaaa Zaaa Asphalt – Guitar Wolf
Here’s Your Future – The Thermals
Pidgin English – Elvis Costello & the Attractions
Down River – MIA
Bump – Spank Rock

Hmmm…that was actually decent.  What happens if I do it again…
Big Ole Words (Damn) – Cee Lo Green
Half Right – Elliott Smith
Lotion – Deftones
God Smack – Alice In Chains
Atwa – System of a Down

Hm.  One more time…
Sad Songs (Say So Much) – Elton John
Dare To Be Stupid – Weird Al Yankovic
Carlotta Valdez – Harvey Danger
2112 Overture / The Temples of  Syrinx – Rush
If – Janet Jackson

Okay, that one works.  That was fun!

CB: Oysters or Peanuts at happy hour?

ML: The only time I’d ever gone to happy hour was when I was in college, at a bar called The Saloon (State College, PA), and I was too busy guzzling a concoction called a Monkey Boy for half price to eat.

CB: If I was over at your house, would it be cool if I crash there?
ML: Yeah, my couch is always open.

CB: What is your problem?
ML: Inability to be happy with the present.  High standards/crippling self-criticism.  Lack of motivation most days.  Procrastination.
Oh, you said “problem.”  Singular.  Let’s go with the fashion choices of Williamsburg – skinny jeans, wearing see-through tights as pants, rope headbands, saddle shoes, purposely ugly shorts, lamé anything…stop dressing like my grandmother if she were made out of wet newspaper, or rejected superhero costume sketches.  I can smell your “trying too hard” before I see you.
Wow, that sounded kinda bitter!  Here’s a picture of bunny:

CB: Define the word “burrito.”

ML: Define the boner you just gave my stomach by talking about burritos.

CB: Preference: “tex mex” or “cali mex?”
ML: Considering I beat off to pictures of Taco Chulo’s kitchen, I’ll say Cali mex.

CB: You have to move to another city that you’ve never even visited and live there for at least one year.  Where do you go?
ML: Tokyo.  If I’m going to be a stranger, I may as well be completely strange to everything happening.  Also, I hope to gain 2 things from that trip: 1) a giant dragon tattoo across my back; 2) part of my body replaced by neon tubing.

CB: Invent a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor that incorporates the name of a band.  Go
ML: Toad the Wet Chocolate.

CB: What’d you do today?
ML: Wrote jokes for the shows I write for (bad sentence construction), avoided actual work, set up contacts to do some corporate gigs.
A request for you: come up with 5 better words to use in place of “gig.”  It’s so lame; I sound like I’m headed to 1963 to perform.

[Editor’s note: job?  That’s all I got.  Looks like 1963 has eternally captured us all]

CB: If your country of origin suddenly adopted an Israeli/Italian policy towards defense, and you had to join the armed forces in some capacity, what would you choose to do?

ML: Probably die quickly, either through my own ineptitude, or in blind recklessness trying to do what a superhero would do in that situation.

CB: Brandon, Dylan or Steve?
ML: Brandon.  He was a journalism major in college, same as me.  Dylan tried WAY too hard; how could you not see through that bullshit?  It’s like his sideburns hypnotized people in to thinking he wasn’t a wannabe.  Steve was a doof.  I swear that’s his middle name – DOOF.  They made him bland later in the series because they realized he SUCKED.
For the people out there that don’t know what we’re talking about, Brandon, Dylan, and Steve were all the first cylons on Battlestar Galactica.

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The Phyllis Nefler Corner: Equinox

Posted by: Coco Buchanan

Welcome to the Phyllis Nefler Corner, a running catalog/update of the disgusting displays of excess witnessed by Coco and Stella while living in New York City.

I’ve got one more day left until my week pass for Equinox expires.  For those of you who don’t know, Equinox is one of the higher-end gym chains in the New York city area.  I belong to Crunch, but after going on a sort of yoga sampler for the past month or so (going to different yoga studios every couple of days), with my friend Miss J (no relation to Miss J from ANTM-if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s probably better that way), she decided to get me a free week pass to her gym, just to check out the yoga classes there. 

I tried a yoga class at my own gym, Crunch, once, but, I find it hard to get over the ridiculous cutesy-ness (if that’s what it even is) vibe of all the classes.  For some reason, it seems like the types of classes that dominate the schedule always have some annoying sexual connotation.  I think there’s one in particular called “turning tricks.”  Not only am I now self-conscious about working out in a large group of people, but now for some reason, I’m forced into somehow being likened to a hooker?  I’m all for wanting to feel comfortable with my body and my sexuality, but, I dunno, I just feel like this sort of attempt at humor or whatever, is sort of forced and stupid.  Not to even say anything about the labeling they employ to their shampoo and conditioner (“Wash what your mama gave ya!,” etc).  Though Crunch is certainly the more affordable of gyms, and is generally pretty clean, there leaves a little something to be desired.  Though, until now, I had no idea how much there was to be desired. I blame it all on Equinox.

Miss J belongs to the SoHo location, which is rumored to be one of the nicest ones, and from the moment you walk in, the Scandinavan-like wooden interior design is probably the biggest tip off that this is certainly no Crunch.  Everything looks brand new, and yet not showy, and certainly not plastered with bright colors or ridiculous puns.  It was really nice that they had a separate studio specifically dedicated to yoga classes, as opposed to a one-space-fits-all situation that can get pretty crowded and smelly sometimes, not to mention loud.  But what was the most striking to me about my Equinox experience was the locker room.  I could write an entire essay just on the incredible luxuries of the locker room alone– strongly contrasting to with the metal-and-plastic locker rooms at Crunch.

First of all, the Equinox lockers are nice & wooden, like the ones at Bliss or some similar such spa.  Horrible Top 40 music isn’t assaulting your ears on sub-standard speakers, no.  Rather, relaxing jazz, world music, and/or folk music played softly, as I hung my coat on the coat hangers found in my locker.  I felt like I was on vacation at my parents’ house.  After the yoga class, Miss J suggested we go steam.  I was a bit apprehensive, because I am under the general belief that steaming, unless at a really nice spa, is kind of gross.  Not to mention the fact that the steam room at the Crunch on 4th Ave (the one I more regularly go to), has been shut down many, many times by the Health Department.  Um, gross.  So, I was not only very pleasantly surprised by the experience I had in the Equinox steam room, but, the already amazing yoga buzz I had going on was prolonged and practically taken to another level because of this steam room. 

Perhaps I am very sensitive to smell, but that damn Eucalyptus-scented steam, coupled with being able to legitimately lay down completely nude with a bunch of very attractive women relaxed me more than I have ever been from just yoga alone.  When Miss J & I were done steaming, we headed to the showers.  Not only do they have disposable razors available, but some of the stalls have their own shaving stools within a separate drying areas enclosed in your private shower pod area.  The shower doors were not crappy plastic curtains like at Crunch, but glass doors that close you into a pun-free cleaning zone.  Not only do they have amazing, fresh-smelling shampoo, conditioner & body wash, but also shave cream.  I felt better and had more room showering here than in my own bathroom.  With the soft jazz playing in the background, I never wanted it to end.  In fact, I feared that I could never go back to Crunch again, having been exposed to something so much better.  But at $180 a month, there is no way I can afford to make the switch.

When I got home, my roommate was watching Taxi To the Dark Side-a film about contemporary torture practices by the United States.  In great detail, I learned more than I could’ve imagined about what unthinkable conditions the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay & Abu Graib withstood.  These guys weren’t even allowed to sleep, were beaten with sticks, sexually humiliated, and had all of their five senses severely messed with to create such profound disorientation, that they literally went insane, tried to commit suicide, or died.  It was then that I started to feel like a giant tool for going to this bourgie gym and enjoying it as much as I did, and even considering paying $180 A MONTH just for a cushy gym. 

Now, with only one day left on the pass, though I am still, admittedly, thoroughly enjoying being spoiled by this gym, it’s sort of frightening that I’m sort of getting used to all the accouterments.  When you think about the standard of living that most people have in the rest of the world, it seems disgusting, narcissistic, and excessively luxurious and wasteful that I can even go to a gym at all, plus that such a place as Equinox exists.  It’s gross that only certain types of people get to experience this type of treatment/environment.  Most of those people probably who belong there don’t even deserve it.  So where does this leave me?  How do I reconcile my simultaneous guilt/disgust and desire for Western excess? 

Because I live in this weird reality that is the United States, and is especially heightened in New York City, does that mean that as long as I’m not being too gross in comparison to everyone else, that it’s sort of ok?  I mean, should I renounce the gym altogether and grow some balls and move to a 3rd World Country doing real work, working for real global change?  In the meantime, I’m going to go back to Crunch, and hopefully won’t feel like either I’m being denied basic human dignities, nor like I’m a total capitalist pig.

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Coco At The Movies: The Strangers

Posted by: Coco Buchanan

My roommate netflixed this movie last week, and we watched on a chilly night with all the lights off.  I dunno if it was because of this setting that made me jump out of my seat every 5 minutes, or because I have an excessive fear of home invasion, or because the movie was actually well done in terms of suspense, because overall, I dunno if this movie was all that good.  But, I can tell you one thing-never come at me by surprise wearing a mask. 

This review might contain spoilers, though I really don’t think there’s a whole lot to “give away.”  It was a pretty simple movie-a couple at an isolated vacation house experience a home invasion.  If the point of this movie was to simply build suspense & show people being injured, etc, then, I guess it was a success.  But it was the opening scenes that sort of threw me off.  The main characters-Kristen and James (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman aka that guy from Felicity) come back to their vacation home, after a wedding and a failed marriage proposal from James to Kristen.  For me, this sort of implied that the story would go somewhere interesting.  Though this section of the movie definitely drew me into it, I somehow thought that this set up implied that there would be more to the movie than there actually was.

Maybe I don’t “get it,” but I feel like this is the type of movie that Funny Games makes fun of-or, rather, scolds the audience for.  It’s ironic that Funny Games does a The Strangers-type of movie better.  Suspension and fear is definitely built well in The Strangers, and I really was scared by these strange home invaders in masks. The startling masks, the hint that they may not be entirely human, the lingering shots mostly of Tyler, and the ingenious use of Joanna Newsom’s music-all definitely contributed to me freaking out.  The frustrating thing about this movie, though, is that there is really no connection between the invaders to the story in the beginning about the couple (am I missing something?), or to anything at all, really.  “Why are you doing this to us?” Kristen asks.  One of the masked invaders replies “Because you were home.”  And that’s all the explanation we get.  At least in Funny Games, we get some sort of explanation and reasoning as to why the invaders are as they are.  In that movie, there is some sort of larger picture implied-one could even argue that it was too heavy-handed that way in the remake.  But in The Strangers, the masked invaders are never even physically revealed to us, though they do reveal themselves to Kristen & James.  One could argue that the anonymity of the invaders makes it scarier.  Fine, that may be true, but there really is no reason for their presence-not in the story, and not for the story.  There is no social commentary, allegory, subtext, etc., so it just seems as though it’s all just torture porn for the sake of torture porn.

So, yeah, this is definitely one to netflix on a night in with your roommate or significant other.  It does the most basic job of a scary movie, and nothing more, really, for me.  Though those damn masks may haunt me for the rest of my life-damn you Jacob’s Ladder, for initially instilling this irrational fear in me!

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Song I’m Obsessed With This Week: Maple Leaves by Jens Lekman

posted by: Coco Buchanan

Unfortunately, I couldn’t upload just the mp3 of this from my itunes, so here is the next best thing. It’s a lot slower than the regular version, but this was the best quality video I could find:

So, ever since the Of Montreal concert I went to the other week that I got VIP tickets to (it was AMAZING, bee tee dubbs) and sat next to Jens Lekman, I’ve been re-listening to his first album, Oh You’re So Silent, Jens.  Though there are plenty of great tracks on that album, I more recently got obsessed with this one, even though I hadn’t really been before.

It’s a great song, not just because it uses (though not so much in this video) a faster beat with lush violins, etc., but because I love the subject matter.  To me, it feel like it’s about the misunderstandings in a relationship, and also maybe how being apart can exascerbate that: 

I think you’re beautiful
but it’s impossible
to make you understand
that if you don’t take my hand
I lose my mind completely
Madness will finally defeat me

She said it was all make-believe
but I thought you said maple leaves
and when she talked about the fall
I thought she talked about the season
I never understood at all

Indeed.

I also like that line about “and every homeless kitty.”

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Interview With Russell, Graphic Designer and Smartass Extraordinaire

Posted by: Coco Buchanan

CB: Where you from & where do you stay at?

R: San Francisco

CB: Who is your Daddy, and what does he do?

R: Jack. He’s a retired airline mechanic who balances his time between doing handyman work and talking to strangers until they walk away.

CB: What sound or noise do you love?

R: Thwip! But only the way it exists in my head.

CB: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see play the lead role as you?

R: JCVD [Editor’s note: That’s Jean Claude Van Damme for you novices in the world of action movies], or Ed Norton.

CB: Do you think you’ve “sold out”?

R: Thoroughly.

CB: Would you welcome the opportunity to “sell out”?

R: No. I’ve pretty much reached my threshold.

CB: What are the first 5 songs on your “recently played” playlist?

R: The Who:

Magic Bus
I Can See For Miles 
Pictures Of Lily
Happy Jack
Boris The Spider

CB: Oysters or Peanuts at happy hour?

R: Oysters

CB: If I was over at your house, would it be cool if I crash there?

R: It would be super cool, but probably not the best idea.

CB: What is your problem?

R: I’m suffering from cognitive deterioration as a result of poor sleep and depression. I stay up late being bummed that I’m so stupid, so I don’t see things improving anytime soon.

CB: Define the word “burrito.”

R: I don’t fucking know- “burrito” is a fucking burrito. I’ll tell you what though- I can define the phrase “stupid question”. Answer: Define the word “burrito.”

[Editor’s note: Define the word “asshole.” Answer: Someone who can’t and won’t define the word “burrito” 🙂 ]

CB: Preference: “tex mex” or “cali mex?”

R: “Cali mex”, but I would never describe it as such.

CB: You have to move to another city that you’ve never even visited and live there for at least one year.  Where do you go?

R: Madrid

CB: Invent a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor that incorporates the name of a band.  Go

R: Murder City Devilsfood Cake Batter

CB: What’d you do today?

R: Tried in vain to define that which refuses to be defined.

CB: If your country of origin suddenly adopted an Israeli/Italian policy towards defense, and you had to join the armed forces in some capacity, what would you choose to do?

R: Are you talking about compulsory conscription? If so, then I would totally join up. I’m a big fan of the idea actually- I think most Americans would think more carefully about supporting military action if they knew the lives of their sons and daughters might be at stake.

CB: Brandon, Dylan or Steve?

R: Steve. He kicked ass in Bullit.

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Girl, It’s Me & You Like Sid & Nancy

Posted by: Coco Buchanan

The title of this post was taken from the lyrics of some Crazytown song that I vaguely recall from the late 90s/early 2000s.  Why ANYONE would consciously model their relationship after Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen implies a level of high school angsty, trashy, provincial attitudes that I do not remember having the slightest bit of tolerance for since 1997.  But, anyhow, there was a recent article on Jezebel arguing that Nancy Spungen was sort of a victim of a sexist punk rock scene-I think it was in response to this article in NY mag.

 While I totally don’t doubt that she most definitely was a victim, in a sense, and perhaps I’m just missing the point, but, honestly, I don’t remember her having produced anything or being particularly outstanding for anything, other than having dated and having been eventually murdered (allegedly?) by Sid Vicious.  Not that I think she should be demonized in the way that she definitely has been over many years, but I just fail to realize why she should be any kind of “hero” either.  Not just that, but I also do not understand why a Malcolm McLaren-pre-fabricated band, nor any of its members should be particularly revered.  Sure, Vicious’s cover of My Way was pretty awesome, and I still enjoy some of the music of the Sex Pistols for better or worse, but, honestly, to idolize or admire any of these people is kind of ridiculous. 

Punk Rock, according to NY Mag’s Karen Schoemer and Legs McNeil (former editor of Spin, and creator of Punk magazine), was

Loud, yes. Obnoxious, yes. But that was the point. The first wave of punk directly confronted a culture it despised. And Madonna hadn’t come along yet to turn bitchy aggression into an art form. ‘You’ve got to remember, Donny and Marie were on TV,’ says McNeil. ‘We were tired of being nice. It was like, fuck you. The left had become as oppressive as the Republicans. They invented that political-correctness stuff. Punk was supposed to piss off everybody and make people think.’

OK, Johnny Rotten, we get it dude, you’re irreverent and flying in the face of established social conventions.  But, really, there’s only so much being contrary, whining and booger-flinging can accomplish.  Also, it really rubs me the wrong way when people get all up in arms about how they’re being oppressed by political correctness.  As though somehow unexamined and unchecked free-for all racism/sexism, etc are somehow a better option.  Though I’m definitely not on board with heavy-handed and excessive use of euphemisms, sometimes assholes need to be called out THAT MUCH.  Sorry that in the context of institutionalized racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc. in the West, it’s an inconvenience for some people to be a bit more conscious of others.

 So when Legs McNeil (former editor of Spin, and creator of Punk magazine) asserted that Nancy “wasn’t any more fucked up than Dee Dee [Ramone] or me,” I mean, to me, that’s not really a grand endorsement.  Wasn’t Dee Dee Ramone a right-wing nutjob?  Or was that Johnny Ramone?  Self-proclaimed right-winger or not, it’s kinda like saying, well, Pol Pot was no worse than Hitler.  Though I do “get” the point he was making-namely, that because Spungen was an aggressive girl, she was more demonized than her male peers, even though she did the exact same stupid shit everyone else did in that “scene”.  But that’s the thing-it was stupid.  Or at least, pretty limited in its scope, at best-I mean, at what point does it simply become self-indulgent and self-centered, as opposed to creative and subversive?  Plus, it’s kind of a stretch to lump Spungen in with people like Yoko Ono or even Courtney Love.  Both of those women were artists in their own right.  But again, as far as I know, Spungen never produced anything.  She was barely an adult.  Spungen was 20 when she was killed, and from what I understand, had serious mental illnesses. 

Just as it is erroneous to paint her a “hero,” in my opinion, it would be a mistake to paint her as a complete victim, just.  There is definitely something to be said about this:

‘[Spungen] was honest about being a prostitute as well, which I thought was refreshing. The punk scene, like any other scene, had its little hierarchies. There were groupies that had been around for a long time because of their looks. In order to be a groupie you had to be tall and skinny and have fashionable clothes. There were a bunch of girls like that on the scene. And then here comes Nancy. She’s not trying to be cute or charming. She wasn’t telling people she was a model or a dancer. She had mousy brown hair and she was a bit overweight. She basically said, ‘Yeah, I’m a prostitute, and I don’t care.”

 Certainly Spungen, though troubled, was pugnacious in ways that challenged the normativity of mainstream culture and within the punk rock scene.  However, had the punk rock scene been more of a movement, perhaps Spungen could’ve been more “important,” so to speak.  I think this quote from actor/screenwriter Victor Cochillio says it all:

‘There was a lot of hope at that time….The music was catching on, bands like Talking Heads were breaking out. A lot of us were thinking, Hey, we may not have to get regular jobs. A lot of it hinged on Sid. He seemed to be the last one carrying the torch. When he died, we all felt like it was over. A couple of bands didn’t even want to gig. What was shunned was now persecuted. It was almost as if the war was over and we’d lost.’

Really?  Punk rock and all it stood for hinged entirely on Sid Vicious?  Using Cochillio’s analogy, if there really was a musical and social “war,” self-indulgent junkies can hardly be deemed soldiers, much less torch holders.  So I dunno, yes, Nancy Spungen struggled against the misogyny within her own subculture plus the misogyny in the dominant culture.  But was that which Spungen was ultimately trying to achieve in the context of that subculture all that meaningful?

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