Thursday, September 30, 2010

Best New Noise from Familiar Sounds

Recently (meaning today or yesterday) I've listened to four new records from four bands or artists each known for having a sound that's unmistakably their own.

First there's Lisbon by the Walkmen.  It sounds jangley and shimmery and sometimes a little clangy as always, with the singer's voice going up and down as it often does.  This record has gotten very strong reviews, but I'm the type of guy who finds himself needing no more than one Walkmen record in his collection, so I'll stick with Bows + Arrows, which I gave a little listen to after finishing Lisbon a second time.  Bows + Arrows still impresses me and seems to have the most distinct bunch of Walkmen songs ever collected to one disc . . . had "We've Been Had" been on that record instead of their first one then you might have yourself a Desert Island disc.

The new Interpol album, Interpol, has not been getting very strong reviews.  In fact, it's been getting trashed.  Three listens now and I don't see why, I think the time was just right to take Interpol down.  Sure, it doesn't come close to Turn on the Bright Lights, nothing ever will (consider that one, for me, a definite Desert Island disc) but if you're in the mood for an Interpol record that isn't Turn on the Bright Lights (and don't find yourself craving Antics) then you can do no better nor any worse than this record.  It's got the tone, it's got the sound, it isn't a travesty.  Stop freaking out, people.  This record is fine.

Brooklyn-based rappers multi-ethnic hipster chillbro rappers Das Racist have released Sit Down, Man, the mixtape follow-up to their first mixtape, Shut Up, Dude.  More polished and professional than the first and sporting an interesting array of producers the record mysteriously underperforms by exceeding.  Production skill has worn away some of the rough edges of the first record and with it a good deal of the charm.  I don't mean to hate too much, there are some good songs, but nothing that stuck to my brain like half the tracks on Shut Up, Dude.  Also, the lyrical focus seems to have shifted a bit from the band's racial identity to the band's identity within the hip hop world.  That's my closer-listening assessment.  Both records (not really mixtapes, if you ask me) are available for FREE from their website.

Finally, today (or yesterday, whatever) Lil Wayne dropped an album-length EP called "I Am Not a Human Being", a prelude, if you would, to Tha Carter IV, which is supposed to drop the day he gets out of jail, or something like that.  There are some solid, solid tracks on this record and plenty of Wayne's trademark outlandish rhymes, the first to catch my ear and make me laugh went: "Weezy Baby a.k.a. bring the money home/pull that AK out an shoot you in the funny bone" (I don't know, it just got me.  That was my mood in the office) and the record even features a sweet, uhm, love song?  Track 3, "With You."  But here's the thing:  Lil Wayne is in jail, he's been there for nearly a year.  How did he make this record?  Does anyone know this?  Off the top of their head?  Or will I have to google it.

So, in short, based on rereading what I wrote above, the records I recommend most today are: Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol and, if you get tired of that (you shouldn't), Bows + Arrows, by the Walkmen.  Neither of which I "reviewed" here.

Okay, people.  Happy Thursdays to you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Best If You Can't Say Anything At All . . .

Post another video.

Man I'm having a hard time finding the words (or the time?) to recap the weekend. But in posting that elevator video Monday I took a look at my other YouTube videos.

How many views do you think this little video I took when I was in Tokyo 4 years ago has had? Come on, just guess . . .

Did you guess over 101,000?  I wouldn't have.  Especially when my best video only has 135 views:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Best This Is What It's Like to Live in my Building

On Fridays we have music in the elevator.

Give me a day or two and I'll tell you about the weekend.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Best Freshest Kicks

by Jeremy Scott for Adidas Originals.

Best Vonnegut in Ages

A month or two ago my roommate and I were bonding over a mutual admiration of Kurt Vonnegut, he told me his favorite Vonnegut was Mother Night, which I had never read before.  A bit later I was walking around, wondering what book I'd read next.  I stopped in a cluttered used bookstore near my house, remembered my conversation with Nate, checked the area of their stacks that seemed to correspond to the letter V (again, very cluttered this bookstore) and they had but one Vonnegut on hand: an old copy of Mother Night.  Just like that.

(This is the edition I found.  Yes, I was a little uncomfortable reading a book with a swastika featured prominently on the cover in public, just as I'm a little uncomfortable posting a picture of it on my blog.)

It had been years since I had read a new (to me) Kurt Vonnegut book and a fine experience returning to a favorite author.  Mother Night is the story of a Howard Campbell, an American playwright who gains fame in immediately pre-WWII Germany and is then urged by an American secret agent to accept a job as a Nazi propagandist, secretly disseminating secret messages from American spies in his nightly Nazi broadcasts.  During the war, Campbell becomes a hero and source of strength to the Germans and Nazi sympathizers at home in America and an enemy and traitor in the minds of most Americans (in fact, Campbell is later told that only three people knew he was an agent).

But the story of Mother Night mostly takes place after the war when Campbell has returned to America and lives as something of a hermit in Greenwich Village and his past rushes in to catch up with him . . . but the whole story is told by Campbell as he writes his memoirs from an Israeli jail, awaiting trial for his war crimes . . . so the whole time, as with a lot of Vonnegut, you know where this story is going to wind up.  The question, as it often is, is just how it's going to get there.

I found Mother Night striking for a few reasons: First, it is definitely the darkest Vonnegut book I've ever read.  In most Vonnegut books, no matter how grim things get, there is still an undercurrent of faith in, admiration of, or hope for humanity; but this one is awful bleak.  Second, Mother Night struck me as something of a companion to or clearinghouse for unused ideas for Vonnegut's most famous novels, Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle . . . it was like Vonnegut had a few more things he needed to say about World War II and a few more human institutions/belief-systems he had to disclose as frauds.  Also, Cat's Cradle and Mother Night share a similar framing device: narrators who have been given the mission of writing the story of their lives and their worlds who choose for themselves similar fates when the task is complete out of defiance to what they view as the controlling powers of their lives.

But I don't mean to say that the book was entirely grim and joyless, the book still features ample dosages of Vonnegut's absurd humor, such as a chapter dedicated to the biography of an American dentist committed to the lifelong mission of proving, through dental-research, his white supremacist beliefs.  And then there's was Robert Sterling Wilson, the Black Fuhrer of Harlem, who I'll dare to call one of Vonnegut's finest comedic creations.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Best Thursday Afternoon: A Little More Interesting than Expected

Thursday afternoon, the early part of it, I had to stop by one of my agencies for a minute and I had plans to lunch with Hillary, who I hadn't seen for a million years.  Good, solid plans, but things turned out more noteworthy than anticipated.  Now calm down, I'm not saying it was the most amazing afternoon in my life, I'm just saying that it was neater than expected.  Okay?

First, when I got off at Times Square I emerged in the middle of this Honda-related concert event that was coming together.

Over on the sidelines Pharrell (I know what you're wondering, He's still alive?  Apparently) was being interviewed.  A little internet research when I got home revealed this was a Honda/Grand Turismo 5 joint promotional event that was to feature a performance by N.E.R.D.  So there you go.  I suppose this sort of thing happens all the time in Times Square, but guess where I'm not at All The Time?  Yes, Times Square.

Then, for lunching with Hillary, we decided to try No. 7 Subs at the Ace hotel.  The sandwiches sounded inventive and were a little expensive . . . nothing extreme . . . it seemed like the right thing to do.  We ordered a broccoli with mozzarella, thai basil, and fried lemon sub and a roast beef with chimichurri, hummus, and potato chips sub.

Oddly, No. 7 food counts as "outside food" in the Ace Hotel lobby, so we walked our lunch down to Madison Square Park, a perfect lunching spot.  Here's a portrait of my halves of the pair before I had any idea about how delicious they'd be.

A closer look at my half of the broccoli sub.  Still no idea that this sandwich would be knocking my socks off just a split second later.

And here's Hillary being forced by me to recreate her reaction to her first bite of the roast beef sub because, Listen.  These Number Seven Subs are So Good, so good that it's ridiculous.  This one made Hillary jump back in her chair and point at it.  Both sandwiches were absolutely startingly delicious, both totally exceeded any guess I might have been able to make of how tasty my lunchtime sandwich would be.  I haven't been so stunned by a sandwich since my first tinga torta at Super Tacos in Santa Monica.  The mysterious fried lemons in the broccoli sub really put it over the top and the roast beef was so magnificently rare, the way it combined with the texture and flavors of the hummus and the potato chip crumbs was magical.  Essentially these unorthodox creations are the sandwich equivalents of a Momofuku Milk Bar cookie: delicious and redefiners (sometimes a word must be invented) of their food-genre.

A few more great things about No. 7:
  • Line was big, but moved quickly and didn't have to wait long at all for our sandwiches.
  • I asked for a water cup, the sandwich bagger filled me a full size 20 oz. soda cup with water and ice, capped it, and handed me a straw.
  • Now that I've been simple and started with a roast beef sandwich, I'm ready to move on to lamb meatloaf  with hardboiled eggs . . . or another of their vegetarian subs, like the General Tso's tofu with seaweed, edamama, and pickles.
Take a look at the menu and then start planning a trip.  Dare I call this the Xoco of New York City?  In another trip I just might.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Best Mulcock Partyin'

Welcome to a gigantic Steady Mobbin' experiment . . . yesterday I worked hard, in a sense, overhauling the margins of this blog via html and I think I got everything right to post bigger pictures here without ruining everything else. And to commemorate the beginning of this new era, may I present the story of when Jeff, Caitlin, and Max came to New York and we had a group dinner at Fatty 'Cue in Brooklyn.

First off, just things I saw walking to Fatty 'Cue, which is on South 6th in Williamsburg.

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A year ago I was surprised to find that I like the tacos of the Endless Summer Taco Truck.

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This famous sign begs for someone to rent this abandoned storefront and bring us Brooklyn's best burger.

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And then I got to Fatty 'Cue and friends of the Mulcocks started turning up. Like Tracy!

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And then actual Mulcocks, like Jeff!

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And Stephen!

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And Max!

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And Caitlin! With Pamela and Dave over there on the left.

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We were seated in the restaurants charming outdoor alleyway seating.

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The staff was excited for us to be there.

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Bon Mots were exchanged at a breakneck pace.

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Don't worry, Jeff was there too.

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And Emily.

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Babies always laugh at the most inappropriate jokes.

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The menu was as daunting as it was tempting, since we were going to be feasting family style, we handed ordering duties over to Jeff (while I yelled out the names of any menu item with "fat" listed as an ingredient)

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And now: This is what we ate. I perhaps didn't get pictures of everything or the best pictures of everything as most of this food was eaten sticky finger style.

Smoked Eggplant "Dip" with lots of things to dip into it or wrap it up with.

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Smoked Pork Loin sliced super thin, served with different little herbs (can't see those, they're on the other side of the delicious peppercorn aioli). This was like reverse lettuce wraps, you wrapped your greens with the meat and dipped it in the sauce. A favorite.

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Noodles with meat juices and hot sauce -- I served myself to small a serving of these.

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Coriander Bacon with toast and yellow curry custard. Yes, what do you think I thought of the really thick pieces of bacon I was served that night? Might I have liked them?

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Pullman Toast with Master Fat. What is "Master Fat"? The purified drippings of everything they cook up in the Fatty Cue kitchen. Too purified for my tastes (I was hoping for thickness, bits of meat) BUT what made my eyes go wide was the coarse salt on the toast. With so many sauces showing up on the table, a lot of different things wound up dipped in.

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Just an idea of how well things were received.

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Curried Black Eyed Peas on the left, a favorite. Bobo Chicken on the right, more chickeny than bobo, if you ask me.

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Ribs. Real nice, not as Asian as the ribs at Ma Peche.

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Brisket and buns with lots to top with or dip in, such as "bone broth."

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Smoked Crab Laksa. Not everyone's favorite, which was fine with, just means I get more complex spicy crabiness in a bowl.

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Birthday Desserts: Smore Pie and another pie that looked like Smore Pie but was not the same as Smore Pie

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So yes, it was excellent to see the Mulcocks and it was excellent to try out a great place I'd had my eye on for a while. Mulcocks, we will see you again (and, in fact, have). Fatty 'Cue, we will be back.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Best and in Local News

I always get so bummed when Fashion Week is over.

Best Collector's Item?

Leica just announced this Limited-Edition Titanium Edition of the M9. It's made of titanium, it's got real nice leather, it has LED framelines instead of old-fashioned brightlines, a built in handstrap, comes with a 35mm f/1.4 lens, and looks . . . weird? Especially that shiny candy-red Leica badge.

Only 500 will be made. The price: 22,000 Euro. But don't freak out! Because along with the camera and the lens the set also includes this weird baby bjorn-style "holster." So owners can be more conspicuous, harder to rob, and more likely to be robbed all at the same time.

So, yeah, whatever. I thought that if you owned an oil field you might be interested in knowing about this.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Best Pritchett Party

Saturday night, a big big night. It was the night we celebrated Claire's birthday.

Wooo! Birthday!

Birthday! Birthday! Birthday!

Amigos got together to celebrate with tacos at La Esquina. Basically this is the number one way to party below 14th street.

Amigos like Di, Jacob, and Alpha were there.

Leslie, Lars.
Me! And Claire's brother Will in town from MIT.

Jessica, in town for a spell after a summer spent in South America.

Nick, Casey.

Here Austin and Casey try to be totally candid bros.

These candid bros photo efforts are a tribute to an excellent candid picture I got of Claire and Alpha that, while it's super excellent, I am not posting here as a present to Claire until this post gets 200,000 Likes on Facebook. Don't worry, I'll email you daily to remind you to Like This Post.

I think all introductions have been made. Let's just focused on the sidewalk partyin' now.

Oh! What's this?! COUSINS!! Surprise, Claire's Mom! It's Cousin Time at La Esquina!

This is me, I was there. I let Jessica have a go with the M8 and she took a lot of these pictures. Credit where credits due, yo.

Oh wait, more introductions to people you may or may not know: Here's Broek and Ryan.

And, What? Suddenly Maria just rolls by in a van? Out of pure coincidence? What in the world? Crossroads of the Universe, this Esquina can be.

Oh, this is Amber.

This is a dude in a car.

Back to partyin. And reading BlackBerry birthday wishes, I'm sure.

Man! Everywhere you go its just blonde girls with their BlackBerries now.

Jessica was getting ambitious with the candids

and I'm not even sure if this guy was with us

And I definitely don't think this guy was with us either.

Listen. It was fun on that sidewalk, I don't want this picture to leave you with the wrong impression. And after everyone partied with their tacos they went to some place to dance and party and some of us (me) went home to stress out about Isaiah.

One More Thing: This party wasn't the only party Saturday night, there was also a Mulcock Party, celebrating Jeff's birthday and celebrating him bringing his family back to New York for a visit. We partied at Fatty 'Cue in Brooklyn and soon you will see how excellent it was.