Friday, April 28, 2006


Has anyone else out there experienced a strong association between number and color? I have, for as long as I can remember, and it's only recently struck me that it might me a little bit strange. It's a generally-apprehensible and immediate association. Not a methodical, conscious mapping of an integer to a specific color, but more an aggregate perceptual result; distillable, usually, to a feeling aptly described in terms such as "cold" and "warm", from which I can then discern component colors. It came up early tonight, when I was taking down a phone number. My impulse was to mention that the number was very warm, but with a notable cut, an orangish-red with a silvery presence. I thought, though, that the comment may not have been all that contextually consistent: the pitcher doesn't generally throw from out in left field.

I first really noticed it with phone numbers. Like my old cell number, 734-649-4910. It's a pretty cold number, greys and greens and blues, with a little warmth at the tip, maybe a flash of red. But my old, old house number, 938-1498, now that's a warm number. Reds, golds, neutrals. The home number of a few years back: 935-3682. Maybe not quite the warmth of the previous, more neutral: yellow-red with green-blue-grey, but for some reason, the yellow-red is dominant. Warmest of all, the current cell: 733-8039. Lots of red and orange, bright, but not overpowering.

So what's the basis? Which number gets pinned with which color? Not entirely sure, I. And I've never really tried to articulate the match for each digit with a specific color. Maybe now's the time. Here goes nothing:

0 = White. Expansive, all-encompassing, radiant. Can form a base, backdrop.
1 = Black. Not too dominant. Never forms a base, always influences.
2 = Tough one... this and six. Not sure, definitely something of the blue or green or grey variety. Inoffensive.
3 = Red. Slightly muted, but surely red.
4 = Probably blue. Not a cobalt blue, but with a little bit of green tint.
5 = Desaturated orange. Something appropriate to stucco in Florida.
6 = Also tough. I want to say green-grey, but light.
7 = Sea green.
8 = Yellow. Slight orange hue.
9 = Silvery grey. Maybe a little green, depending on the light.

There you have it. I've looked it over a few times, and it actually seems right. Weird! You wouldn't believe how many phone numbers, PIN numbers, and physics constants I've remembered because of this. Is there a logic? Initially, I thought there might be an even-odd split, but if one establishes three color categories as yellow-orange-red, green-blue, and greyscale, the numeric participation is, repsectively, 3-5-8, 2-4-6-7-(9), 0-1-(9). What's the pattern, aside from the obvious 1-0, black-white duality? Does it make sense to anyone? Is there someone out there who can provide a plausible explanation? Until then, forever curious, baffled, entertained, and fascinated shall I remain!

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Lately, I have been consumed — and will continue to be consumed — by hours and hours of transcription. Musicians always assume that it's music, but no... interviews, baby. Words! They talk, I type. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's a fairly mundane way to make a buck, but it is on my own time, when and where I choose. Six straight hours interfacing with the keyboard has a hell of a bite, though: straining to hear stuttering subjects over formidable background noise, back flipping out from a bad chair, hands toying with the idea of developing an RSI.

But it's strangely fulfilling, at the end of the day. I think I picked up the notion, somewhere along the line, that work is, a priori, unpleasant. Or conversely, if I'm having fun, I must not be accomplishing anything. And accomplishment is the true source of happiness, right? I guess it's my own take on some sort of puritanical work ethic someone or something pumped into me at some point, a little bit of melodramatic masochism: suffering brings satisfaction. Dig the following syllogism:

Suffering → Accomplishment
Accomplishment → Happiness

Suffering → Happiness

*scratch scratch*

It's also completely maddening, as all the subjects seem to be people who are doing exciting and intelligent things. And here I amn, transcribing their interview. So far, the subjects have included 20-something internet startup owners, PhD students in exciting (sometimes) interdisciplinary programs, prominent public officials, and ex-almost-presidents. It's easy to imagine that all of these people lead engaging, dynamic lives. The only dynamic aspect of transcription is the ever-present vector towards tendonitis. I transcribe their interviews, which leads to... transcribing more of their interviews.

If anything, it helps to light a fire under my ass. I want to do something amazing, too. Just a matter of figuring out what... or maybe I'll just give up on that idea and spend my days down at the OTB.

I don't want to be completely dark on it, though. When the content or subjects are of sufficient interest, it can be pretty engaging and quite enlightening. Especially when one prominent official says something about another prominent public official off the record.

Pocky FOR MENOne of the things that's fueled me over the last few days has been Pocky. And not just any Pocky, MEN'S POCKY. Grunt. In a moment of Tokyo envy, I went to a very Japanese market in the East Village. It was there that I found the Pocky. It was also there that I found and tasted sweet, sweet onigiri for the first time since December. And it was good.

And now, only 45 minutes of Al Gore to go!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

WTC Circus

Freedom Tower © 2005 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill/dboxOnly minutes ago, the AP announced that Larry Silverstein, leaseholder of the World Trade Center site, finally accepted an agreement whereby he is ceding rights to build and operate the Freedom Tower and one other tower on the site of the Deutsche Bank building to the Port Authority, owner of the site, while still retaining rights to build three towers on the most commercially viable parcels of the site. When you have the mayor, governor, and NYC populace breathing down your neck, and don't quite have the audacity or clout of a Donald Trump, I guess making a deal doesn't sound like a bad idea. Maybe this means that we'll actually see some action down there in the next 10 years. Unfortunately, I don't think the wretched obelisk pictured here, a monument of fear and false, insecure, nationalistic pride, will be scrapped and redesigned like it should be. But we can always hope.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mingus!

MingusMingusMingusMingusMingusYah, sure, 4/20, whatever. Hold out a couple more days for a more worthy celebration on 4/22, the birthday of bassist and general bad-ass, Charles Mingus. There are few others in the realm of world-domination-via-music who had or have his passion, virtuosity, attitude, earthy funk, innovation, and nose for social commentary. Firmly rooted in the tradition, but always facing forward. It mystifies me to this day how I "got it" even in 8th grade (whatever that means), from the primal shout of "Moanin'" to the frighteningly honest "Myself When I Am Real" to the scathing "Fables of Faubus" or the "Who said momma's lil' baby loves short'nin' bread!?" rap amidst the epic "Cumbia and Jazz Fusion." And it's only grown richer with age.

Thanks to Chris for reminding me about the WKCR all-day birthday marathon. For those of you who are, like me, homebound due to shitty weather, you can still tune in at 89.9 FM in the New York area, or online.

In addition to all of Mingus's countless musical offerings, we should not forget his contribution to the world of pet ownership. Many a litter box has been cast aside thanks to the wisdom of this man.


The City of New York is getting serious about recycling, so it appears. Evidently, they now have a legion of officers patrolling the streets, inspecting our garbage. And if they find a wrongly classified piece of refuse, watch out. They ticket, moving swiftly under the fog of morning. They got us on Thursday, we never knew what hit us.

Way Groovy Recycling InfractionThe details of violation read as such: "At TPO I did observe in a wide open Grey receptacle 10 pieces of unsoiled paper mixed with household waste out for collection." I can imagine the scene. Officer Rivera turns the corner onto Leonard St., something feels out of place. He has a nose for these kinds of things, that's why he was promoted from meter patrol. As he gets closer, the adrenaline starts flowing, he can taste copper on the back of his tongue. Something catches his attention, a piercing white reflection in the corner of his eye, coming from inside a partially covered receptacle. He fumbles for his gloves, unclasps his ticket book, keeping one hand close to his hip, and approaches with caution. As he sifts through vegetable refuse, plastic bags, used Kleenex, and kitty poo, his revulsion swells as he uncovers not one but ten immaculate sheets of paper. He squints his eyes in the morning sun and curls his lip, nostrils flare. Oh humanity, how you have strayed!

He feels so helpless and overwhelmed, and chokes back his frustration as he takes the only effective course of action available to a man in his position: ticket book and pen. A somber moment always for Rivera, a man of integrity and restraint. He thinks back to the early days on the frontier, a time when outlaw and lawman alike lacked discretion and respect for life, when many a good man fell under a capriciously weilded ticket book. A tear forms in his eye, but never quite matures, as he tapes the violation to the door and moves on down the line.

Let that be a lesson to you all. If you have to throw away unsoiled paper, be sure to soil it first. The Officer Riveras of this world have trouble enough on their mind, the least we can do is tend to the little things.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Friday Musings

Man, this street playing is great and all, but it's really cutting into my blog time. If I had a real job, I'd never post!

Or maybe I'd post three times a day. Probably the latter.

Playing the street during the week means that our audience consists mostly of tourists, retired people, high school kids (spring break this week), and mothers (or nannys) with rugrats to spare. I've been blown away recently by the extent to which strollers have developed in the modern age. Seems like just recently, stollers consisted of an aluminum frame, a seat element for the rugrat, four wheels, and handles. Now, the things have blown up into impregnable, high-security ATVs. The tires on these things look like a miniaturized version of what you'd see on a front-end loader. They can roll over anything in their path: logs, small animals, shallow streams, French cars, etc. Who knows what kind of top-secret, space-technology alloys they're using in the frames; the plastics and metal alloys have a look nothing short of alien. And the seats, I believe that these and their fastening systems took inspiration from what can be found in a Stealth bomber. Strap that kid in, and he's safe! Any one of these juggernaut baby-carriers would probably stand a greater chance of surviving a roadside IED than any of Rumsfeld's armored Humvees in Iraq. I even saw one today with an M60 mounted on the top.

What ever happened to red wagons?!? Throw a pillow in there and junior'll be fine. I just can't imagine spending more on a stroller than might be spent on a decent used car. Then, after a couple years it's time for the little brat to walk, and the stoller gathers dust in the basement. Can't exactly drive it to work.

Regardless of design or sophistication, strollers present themselves as quite the obstacle for the urban runner. I run a few times a week on the beautifully-resurfaced track in McCarren Park. It's undeniably wonderful to have something like that only a quarter mile from my house, but running there is a bit more like going through a basic training obstacle course. Unless one gets out at 7 in the morning, which I've never done and probably never will. First, there are the strollers, at least 5 or 6 young moms wheeling their kids around the track at any given time. An obstruction, yes, but slow-moving and easy enough to dodge. Same with the walkers, just a smaller profile.

In the middle of the track are a couple soccer fields, constantly in use, so one usually has to duck or return about three or four errant balls per lap. This can actually be pretty fun; I try to chase down and kick back as many as possible.

Then it gets hairy. Little kids. Loose and wild. Some of these smudgy-faced rugrats have absolutely no conception of the pain they could experience in a collision with someone three times their size. They'll just walk onto the track, wander around, no idea that four joggers and a pack of stampeding water buffalo are bearing down on him. I've never had to jump one, but it's come close.

After surviving the unpredictable-movemented children, one then advances to the next level: bikers. Does someone really need to put up a sign saying, "No bikes on the track"?? I thought that one was a no-brainer. I mean, who shows up to the YMCA swimming pool with a kayak? Sometimes it's people racing around on mountain bikes, other times there will be three hooligans on a dirt bike (one riding, one on the handlebars, one standing on the rear pegs), lazily winding back and forth across the lanes, completely oblivious. I am surprised that I haven't yet seen a serious bike/runner or bike/walker injury. This is the only time I feel slightly malicious and wish I had a long broom handle to stick in their spokes.

I'm still waiting for randomly-appearing spikes or boulders or snake pits, maybe javelin-weilding knights on horseback. That would make for the ultimate workout. For REAL.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Least With The Most

If there were an organization out there who would happily pay those most efficient in wiling away time without anything to show for it, I would be buying up brownstones left and right. I have been active since 10:00 or so, and had the best of intentions for making this a productive day to whoop all productive days. Now it's nearly 3:30, five and a half hours later, and what's been accomplished? I suppose it's a rather formidable list:
  • Brush teeth
  • Eat something
  • Iron pants
  • Email
  • Try to set up meeting with bandmate to look at pictures
  • Piddle around on bass for a while
  • Halfway listen to Brian Lehrer show
  • Check weather, and think about how nice it probably is outside
  • MySpace, MySpace, MySpace
  • Eat more something
  • Halfway listen to Leonard Lopate show, get depressed while listening to Morris Berman talk about how America is entering the dark ages
  • Put dirty laundry in bag
  • Leave house!!!
  • Drop of laundry
  • Relocate to coffee shop, with intentions of transcribing copious amounts of interview
  • Cappuccino, mmm, buzz
  • Decide that before transcribing, I should probably reconstruct cash expenditures for the last two weeks for meticulous Excel spreadsheet
  • More email
  • Move outside, 'cause there's no wireless out there
  • Discover a new network available from the patio
  • Put together an iTunes playlist to accompany Excel drudgery
  • Smile at cute Asian girl at next table over
  • Finish Excel drudgery
  • Open transcription program, import files
  • Finish cappuccino, get peppermint tea
  • Check other blogs for new postings
  • Smile at cute Asian girl as she leaves
  • Since iTunes playlist is far from finished, and I can't listen while transcribing, decide to write in blog
Which brings me here. Watch out, somebody stop me.

In the spirit of distraction, I recently discovered an amazing song by Paul Revere and the Raiders (best known for the time-worn classic, "Louie Louie") entitled "Crisco Party." What on earth is THAT all about!?
"They got this barrel, this big trash barrel, the Crisco barrel-- you just better listen to Crisco Party. I'll probably never be able to put this on the album... it's kind of like Vaseline updated."
Thanks, Paul. (There, I did some transcription. Ha.)

If you haven't unearthed this ruby of a tune, or are too young to have danced to it in high school, spend the 99 cents on iTunes or find it somewhere, and you'll diggy-diggy-diggum, too.

Monday, April 17, 2006


At last it's come... We've had the Daylight Savings switchover, which, with the final defeat of winter, has an incredible effect on things like outlook, motivation, and general state of well-being. With spring's insistence on sticking around for a while comes other perks, like hanging out in Central Park, playing with the scrappy ne'er-do-wells pictured above, a.k.a. the Blue Vipers of Brooklyn, thereby replenishing a famished bank account...

We play a mix of early jazz, blues, country, and any other tunes that may have been floating around New Orleans when Billy, the guitarist/vocalist, spent five years there, playing the streets. It's not a music that most people tend to seek out, but the magic of it lies in its discovery: it's just about the most perfect music to stumble upon on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Central Park. People don't even realize that they like it until they round a corner and there we are, then they've been watching for an hour. It's fun, happy, feel-good music, impossible not to smile when you hear it. Roll out the tip bucket and the CDs, and you have possibly the best day job in the city. It can be insanely lucrative: over the course of Saturday and Sunday combined, I took in about the same as I would working 40 hours at some crappy job. And a number. Can't beat that with a stick.

So here's to the welcomed return of sunshine and warmth and happiness. May it be long-lasting and prosperous for all.

On a different subject, one of things I enjoy most about the subway is the consistent effort of individuals to modify anything posted in the stations: service change notices, advertisements, etc. I saw this one for the first time a couple days ago and thought it was worth a chuckle, but I pity the one who reads it, believes it, and leans on a freshly-painted pole wearing a new jacket...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Polly Want A Hamilton?

This just in from Michelle, who wins big points for super-stealthy mobi-cam action whilst waiting in line for the ATM:

Looks like the bird was having a funny feeling about the whole thing...


Great googly moogly, it's done!! Nine days and eight sleepless mornings later. You are looking at a photo of my freshly re-sided and insulation-doubled (just in time for the winter!) house, on the left, taken on this sunny, warm, happy day. So conveniently, it also serves as an effective before/after, as the house on the right is masked with the same garish, faux-wood skin as ours was but ten days ago.

And the verdict is...

Hmm. Welcome to Miami?? Hell of a palate. What is it exactly? Texturally, it kinda looks like a stucco or something, as the artsy, Jan-&-Markus-inspired detail to the left will show. Or... Ahh yes! A sidewalk! And how else would a coating of concrete look? It is difficult, maybe impossible, for me to look at it without seeing also the process; when one knows that it's just a thin layer of painted concrete on top of styrofoam, moldings and all, some of the magic disappears.

Whatever they say, it's better than the old stuff. And at least we now have window ledges, on which we can place precariously-balanced potted plants and beer bottles and cats.

In other news, The Onion has provided us with a dark, if not chuckle-worthy, perspective on the current state of Detroit with this lovely article. As often is the case, I think the headline is the best part, but it's still worth a read.

Happy passover! I'm off to get me a case of Manischewitz and a few pint of lamb's blood, ward off that pesky angel of death...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

How To Spot A Midget

New York's music world is full of unprofessional, bottom-feeder, small-time, ghetto hustlers, be they managers, other musicians, or whatever. I'm sure they're everywhere, but we have more. Many, many more. It is a wise thing to learn how to spot them from the get-go, lest it start to feel like you're traveling with the circus, what with all the midgets running around. Aspiring musicans, take heed and read on!

The signs are usually apprehensible when you first meet them. They often times like to drop names like the Pentagon drops bombs. Let's say you meet a well-dressed guy named Hoops McCann. Hoops says, "Oh, yeah, I play marimba for Liza Minelli," or, "I manage Sade whenever she goes to Guam." Of course you give them the requisite, "Oooh, that's AMAZING!!" and toss them a card. Later on, you go home and google "Hoops McCann" with "Minelli" or "Sade" and absolutely nothing comes up. Or, if you're really lucky, you get a google-whack, and the only hit turns up a story in which a sweats-clad Hoops is pictured having his t-shirt signed by Liza Minelli. At this point, one eyebrow should be moderately higher than the other.

Another sure-fire sign is if you've only been in town a week when you meet Hoops. At this point, no one knows who you are, and most could care less, especially those with whom you'd likely want to play, or those who can give you good gigs. Hoops sees you at a jam session, blows a bunch of smoke up your ass about how great a player you are, how he's got this band, or that connection with Liza Minelli, and you're going to be working every weekend, making $50K a year, and living in in an East Village studio apartment instead of a Bushwick loft. Interpret: "Mmmm... fresh meat!"

Then he gives you a call, sometimes soon, sometimes after a month or so. He leaves a message, and it goes something like this: "Hi Dave, Hoops McCann. I got a gig for you on Saturday, April 22nd, with a rehearsal tomorrow morning. Gimme a ring, lemme know if you can do it." (note: if Hoops is from Long Island, he will probably address you as "baby," not your real name.) Flags should be going up left and right. Interpret: "Hey, do you want to play a shitty gig about three hours away for no money? It's only five hours long, and you won't get home until six am. And oh yeah, can you do a couple horn charts?"

Never, never, NEVER say you're free until you have answers for the basic questions: where, when, with whom, how much, how long? If you do, you're trapped. Then you have to deal with the rehearsal, which is supposed to go from 10 to 12, then doesn't start until 11:15 and runs until 2:30. God help you then.

Usually, one inquiry will reveal the answers to these questions, and the gig ends up being at a club way out in Long Island with a weekend-warrior blues band from 11pm to 3am for $30 and a couple free beers. This is the point at which you say, "Oh man, sounds great, thanks for the call, but I've already got something in town." Sometimes even one phone call and several text messages will not reveal critical details such as pay and hours. This is also a point at which you tell them to take a long walk, and not the one Jill Scott likes to sing about.

Do this a few times, and Hoops will figure out that he can't take advantage of you, and will move on to find another young guy who's just come to town.

Maybe Hoops gets bold, especially after having recently obtained and skimmed through a copy of Power Plays for Third Grade Bullies. If you refuse the offering, he informs you that it's a give-and-take relationship here, asks you to "work with him on this," there are big things in the future. He may remind you about the magnitude of the opportunity he's providing, and that he's doing you a big favor. Then, an aside: "You know, I'm putting together a four-month tour with Sade in Guam, and there's a long line of people who would love to do it..." (Again, you go home and check Sade's website. There are no dates lined up in Guam, nor have there ever been.) Of course, this is petty manipulation, which even your average fourth grader would see right through, and should not be tolerated. The way in which you deal with it varies with your own personal humor; it's not at all outside the realm of acceptability for you to tell him to go do something dirty and inappropriate to himself, or even to give him a couple of good cracks.

And even after having completed this phase, he may tell you to leave two dates free in July. Wash, rinse, repeat...

Ahh, midgetation, the world of hacks and sucker-fish. It may be good for a laugh, but meditate, for a moment, on the thought that there exists a personal story to go with each and every line... At least I have semi-enteraining stories to tell. For that I am thankful.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Salt-Crust Fish and Cement Siding

This could be YOU.Oh my god! Someone sealed a fish in styrofoam, baked it for a couple hours, and now we're supposed to eat it? If you say so...

Luckily, you're not looking at a fish in a styrofoam shell, but a freshly baked, salt-crusted salmon, one of the newest additions to my list of Things That Rock (along with Samurai Kittens and "Cake"). Sunday night evening brought several of us together in for a celebration in honor of my roommate Adam's new job/wake to honor the passing of a four-week, involuntary vacation. The centerpiece of this event was a fresh, 10-pound salmon. It's a crazy process, salt-crusting and baking a sucker like that. The salt – about five pounds of it – is mixed with egg whites and water and spices, then used to form an inch-thick encasement around the fish, which cavity is filled with lemongrass and ginger and garlic and peppers and other tasty bits. Over the course of many minutes in the oven, the salt pack congeals into a solid crust, which flavors the fish and seals in all the juicy goodness. Upon completion, it must be the broken up by solid smacks with the back of a knife, and removed in formidable chunks. Result: the tastiest, most savory salmon I have had to date. Thank god we could still appreciate it after several straight hours of mussels, risotto, Yellowtail, Pussy-foot, and Brouczech.

Sunday night also marked the final night of my papa's stay in the city, and I would say he melded extremely well with the younger generation. Each time he visits, I try to pull him deeper into the New York fray. First time, it was a hotel in Midtown, a Broadway show, nice dinners at standard restaurants, and Starbucks. This time, he stayed in the village, caught some Sex Mob at Tonic, swilled Polish/Slavic brews with Team Greenpoint, and found an independent coffee shop (just one trip to Starbucks, and then only 'cause the other one wasn't open at 7am on a Saturday!). Maybe in a couple years, he'll be staying at the Greenpoint Hotel, hitting record stores in East New York, and checking out multi-media loft performances featuring lots of naked dancers, someone playing a live lobster with a toothbrush, and 25-ft projections of dog poo.

Eight days now, and my building is still a construction zone. Two to three days? Sure. They've been covering the layer of styrofoam with cement, which strikes me as somewhat odd. Did they come by thinking they were going to redo the sidewalk, and then come up with an expedient answer to the question, "Well, what are we gonna DO with all of this stuff?" (Or more accurately: "
Co miał my robi z całą tą materią? ") So very strange. Is this standard practice, to put up two inches of styrofoam sheet, styrofoam molding around the windows and doors, then encase it in a protective crust (oooh, theme of the week!)?? If anyone has any insight to this practice, please pipe up.

Strangeness aside, it already looks better than the old stuff.

And for those who are clinically depressed from reading about how our messianic president is definitely NOT working on plans for an invasion of Iran (speaking of people who should be crusted with salt and baked in an oven), check out the April 10th issue of the New Yorker, where you will find a side-splitting article by George Saunders entitled "Nostalgia." Said article can be found here, although I don't know for how long.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

14 Years In Music

A few months ago, my friend Chris sent me a list of music that, for one reason or another, has stood out at a certain period in life, sorted by year. Sounded like a cool excercise, but I never really got to it until today. With that, here we go, the music that hit me in a meaningful way at a given time, regardless of whether or not it's still around. I can't pin certain years all that well, but I've tried my best...

Pre-7th Grade:
Mostly country for a long time, especially the Oak Ridge Boys (Elvira, baby!), The Statler Brothers, Charlie Daniels Band, Randy Travis, Hank Williams (Jr. and Sr.), Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, George Jones, etc. A marked break from coutry in 6th grade, listening to pop music to be cool...

7th Grade (12):
The beginning of the jazz years. Taping CDs from the Fairport Library. Yellowjackets - Live Wires and The Spin. Michael Brecker - Now You See It, Now You Don't. My first 4 CDs, summer afterwards: Two Kenny G (I was young and foolish), Spyro Gyra, and a Charlie Parker.

8th Grade (13):
Duke Ellington - Jazz Party, Ellington/Basie - First Time! Count Meets the Duke, Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, Dave Brubeck - Time Out.

9th Grade (14):
Charles Mingus - 13 Pictures and Mingus Ah Um, Jazz Super Hits of the 60s (a collection of boogaloo hits: Lou Donaldson, Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd, etc.), much of this blasted in the West Jr. High bandroom after school, Queen, Keith Jarrett - The Köln Concert, Art Blakey - Moanin'.

10th Grade (15):
GRP All-Star Big Band (rockin' out to this one on band trips with the splitter), Chick Corea Elektric Band, Aaron Copland, Vaughan-Williams (laying on the floor of the basement, one speaker on each side of my head), Joshua Redman, Cannonball Adderly, John Scofield - Hand Jive.

11th Grade (16):
Morphine - Cure For Pain (finally started to acknowledge the possibility of lyrics), Bill Evans (especially the Motian/Lafaro trio, the still remember hearing the first few notes of Explorations), Keith Jarrett Standards Trio, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman.

12th Grade (17):
Tower of Power, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder (the beginning of the jazz split... largely due to the Dill's Family Band, the Golden Garter Revue, and all the people involved, then and in years to come), Maria Schneider Orchestra, Pat Metheney Group - Secret Story.

Freshman (18):
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis band box set, Medeski Martin & Wood - Shack Man and others, Sting - 10 Summoner's Tales, Monty Python Sings.

Sophomore (19):
4-Sight, Radiohead - OK Computer, Bill Frisell - Nashville and many others (watershed moment for returning to country roots), Kurt Elling - The Messenger, Zappa (continuing throughout college), Kenny Garrett - Songbook, Brad Mehldau - Art of the Trio 1, 2, 3.

Junior (20):
Count Basie - The Atomic Mr. Basie (taught me how to swing, and I also realized that tenor saxophone should sound like Lockjaw Davis), Sex Mob - Din of Iniquity (watershed moment when I realized that jazz could be fun again), Morphine - The Night, Tom Waits - Small Change (one of my most important re-discoveries... it was either here or a year later), Michael Jackson - Thriller (blasted from our windows in the summertime).

Senior (21):
Radiohead - Kid A (we listened to it twice the night it came out), Kurt Rosenwinkel - Enemies of Energy, Bill Holman Big Band, Prince - Emancipation (all about "Joint 2 Joint").

Super-Senior (22):
Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Brian Eno - Music for Airports, Weather Report, Ray Charles, Otis Redding (the latter two defined my post-graduation summer, as I would pull a keyboard amp out on the porch, plug in the CD player, rock-n-grill).

Classic soul/R&B explosion (you name it, I was listening), Steely Dan - Gaucho and Everything Must Go, Joni Mitchell - Hejira (another watershed moment), India Arie - Acoustic Soul (very strong associations with a specific person), Muddy Waters, Earth Wind & Fire, Brad Mehldau - Largo, Donny Hathaway (wow).

Kris Kristofferson, Outkast, Charles Earland - Black Talk, Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace. (I'm not sure why I can't remember anything else from the first year in NYC. Strange...)

John Lee Hooker - Live and Cafe Au-go-go and Soledad Prison, Pat Metheney - The Way Up, Earth Wind and Fire - Gratitude, Daniel Lanois - Shine, Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy, Me'shell Ndegeocello, Bob Drake - What Day Is It?, Billy Joel.

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska, Pat Metheney - Speaking of Now, Mos Def - Black on Both Sides, Lonnie Smith.

I'm sure there are some ommissions, some exaggerations, and some temporal stretches. But on first reflection, that's what pops out...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Samurai Kittens!

Samurai Kittens Screenshot - Furtality!What happens if you have two guys without day jobs together in an apartment? They manage to dredge up some of the most entertaining, disturbing, and time-wasting sites on the entire Inter-Compy Wunder Web. Site du jour:

This flash game is not for the faint of heart, the animal lovers, or the tasteful. But if you would rate the darkness of your humor as a 4 or 5 out of 5, then hop to it. As clever as it is offensive, it may keep you addicted for hours, costing your company a fortune in lost productivity, or yourself a fortune in lost sleep.

Other screen shots can be found here and here. Enjoy!!

Note: For the record, I have nothing against kittens. Nothing at all. I think they're lovely and cute and cuddly and great fun. Really, I love 'em! But I have no problem trying to get my flash-kitten to chop up the other flash-kitten with a kitana blade. And when my flash-kitten smiles after pulling out the other flash-kitten's heart, I smile too.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I'll Punch Somebody In The Head For Some Cake

Many thanks to Mark for this hopeful glimpse into the life of an aspiring musican. We like to think that it could be true, but that's all part of the humor, I guess.

I know a couple of you checked out WFMU's second Cake-a-thon yesterday. I'm sorry for any permanent damage. But for those of you who missed it, I highly suggest you listen, first, to the original (MP3) version of this senseless bit of poetry, and then see how many of the 200+ listener submissions you can stomach. Yesterday and the previous Wednesday, the three hours of Intelligent Design with Kenny G were busting at the seams with these many, many interpretations. I think I made it through about an hour, and was still laughing. Here's to hoping they do it again next week, maybe I can crank out a version of my own.

After listening for a while, I've decided that I really like Sufjan Stevens, but too many times through Seven Swans gives me this unexplicable urge to beat him up. Go figure.

I finally happened to have Michelle's camera handy when my lappy crashed its often recurring crash. What IS that in the upper left-hand corner? Looks like some Linux or something. Is it bad? Very yes. If a good ole wipe-n-reinstall won't fix it, I'll likely start a New Lappy For Dave fund, which donations can be given through PayPal.

Feels like...

I just lost about 2,000 words because this fucking computer freaked out when I nudged the battery the wrong way with my knee. And I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that there's absolutely no way in hell that I'll retreive what's been lost. Reconstruction is futile at best. So pardon the irritation. It's like bearing your heart on the phone to a could-be girlfriend for five minutes, and then realizing that you've been disconnected for the last four and change, but about 67 million times worse. Because who really gives a rotten rat's ass about a could-be?

I'd started thinking about home, and what it feels like to be home, and I had this realization that the last time I'd *really* felt I was at home was around the time I was 8 years old living at 3359 Greenwood Drive in TC, MI. Halfway to sleep, I got up, reached for the lappy, and started going. I had traced a path from the street, up the driveway, past the garden on the left, where I'd sat, a 3-year-old-me, and gorged myself on fresh green beans, and the six white pines my dad had planted on the right. Then, through the front door of the orange-painted-and-brick, one-story ranch, past the living room on the left, then a quick right down the hall... my sister's room, the first on the right, then to mine, the corner room, second door on the right. Thick, golden shag carpet, brown-on-white, diagonal plaid wallpaper. One window to the street, the other to the neighbors. My bed was in the corner, the corner of the house, sometimes facing west, but mostly north, away from the street. Across from my room, my parents'. Bathroom, closet, incidental. I remember being sick in the bathroom and employing the closet during games of hide and seek. Back to the living room. To the rear, the dining room. Not really separated physically, separated functionally. Same rich, brown carpet throughout both. A cut-glass lamp dangling by a chaing over the table, dark-brown stained, soft wood. To the right, the kitchen. Small, with a yellow linoleum floor. But before that, the stairway to the basement, finished off at some point, where I'd practiced piano, performed 'shows' for family friends, built tent-forts from tables and chairs and blankets, and gotten a little loopy from the glue required to assemble a plastic model of the HMS Hood.

Colors, textures, all were warm, inviting. I never thought of it as small. It was a place that begged to be lived in.

The path continued past the dining room, out through the sliding doors, onto the deck, constructed sometime between the time I was 3 and 5, probably. The deck was a portal to the backyard, which was infinite. Yes, I was aware of the property lines, which corners were marked with cement posts one could find by stumbling around in the trees a bit, but before the lot ended, the woods began, and the woods didn't give one good goddamn about property lines. T
hey gladly allowed us our hammock, sandbox, swingset, at the edge, but that's what it was: allowing. Their property. Yet as long as there were trees, I was still in my backyard. I could probably still tell you where each fort was, all the good hiding spots, the place where I hacked open my finger with a knife trying to strip a sapling. And maybe, were I to walk through that territory now, I'd stumble upon little bits of myself that I'd puckishly hidden years ago.

What's your home? When in your life have you felt the most that you were (or are) home? If you were to close your eyes or daydream and walk yourself through and around that space in your mind, step by step, what would you find? How would you react? I strongly suggest you take a few minutes, maybe even half an hour, and try it. It's a powerful path, probably more so than you think. I really wasn't prepared; I wish so much that my first-hand account hadn't evaporated into nothingness.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Siding Day 2 + Random

Behold the visual which should have accompanied Monday's posting. My building is the one that looks like it's under construction. Oh yeah, that's because it IS. If you look even closer, you will notice three windows on the second floor. These belong to my apartment. The two on the right are our front room, next to which I have my desk, and from where I broadcast the majority of these postings. The one on the left is -- yes, you got it -- my bedroom! Glorious days. The hardware store was fresh out of head-sized, sound-proofed, styrofoam balls when I stopped by on Monday, so sleeping has not been pleasant past 7:30 or so.

As long as you're inspecting the picture, note the choice of siding on the building to the right. Believe it or not, this quaint-looking finish isn't real wood, but a synthetic immitation, a mockery of what could be. Until 4pm on Monday, this is what covered MY building as well. Whether Stanely (my landlord) or the neighbor did it first, we'll never know, but they're both guilty of aesthetic crimes against humanity: one for having the idea, and the other for thinking it was good enough to repeat.

Like I said on Monday, just about anything would be a considerable improvement. I'm trying to convince Stanley to leave exposed the white, styrofoam insulation and give each of his tenants (me, Adam, Michelle, Nicole) some quality time with a can of spraypaint. Why not? At least it would have a little spice of character.

Don't be fooled by the intensly-backlit, bright, sunny photograph: it may have been a beautiful sunny day, but it still had a chill about it. No, the weekend was much better. I think it hit 70 on Sunday. What a scene, one of the first pleasant Sunday afternoons of the year, in Greenpoint/Williamsburg. I thought hipsters * had about as much an affinity for bright light as cockroaches, but evidently they've mutated; the new strain is much more resistant. A stroll through McCarren Park (pictured to the left) revealed battalions of them lounging around and warming in the afternoon rays.

McCarren is a trip. Don't think I'm bitching about the one slice of green within a quarter mile of my doorstep, 'cause I love it for what it is. It ain't Central Park, but I don't live on 5th Ave. either. Anyway, most of it is occupied by ballfields, volleyball courts, soccer fields (featuring freshly-laid astroturf!), a beautiful track, a dog run, and a defunct swimming facility. All of this is great (
except, of course, for the defunct swimming facility, which is fenced in and wasteful and somewhat creepy), and we should be so lucky as to have it so near. I mean, better to have ballfields so the kids don't have sex and shoot each other, right? Problem is, one can't really have a picnic in center field unless your idea of dessert is getting cracked on the head with a softball. Thus, most people who just want to sit on a piece of grass, read a book, work on the tan, or look at girls who are working on tans end up cramming themselves into the narrow slice of green between Bedford Ave. and the sidewalk (easily visible in the picture -- thank you Google Maps!!). On an afternoon like Sunday, it bears a striking resemblance to the tilapia tanks at the Chinatown fish markets. Roll over? Maybe. Turn around? Good luck. Mmm, that cheese plate looks good, don't mind if I do!

After just one walk through the park on that Sunday afternoon, I'm finally recovering from the temporary blindness caused by the glut of white, hipster flesh that hasn't seen daylight in months, years even. Next time I venture out on a pleasant afternoon, I'll remember to wear my welding mask. Also handy if you stumble upon a solar eclipse, they tell me.

Speaking of eye protection, I shall conclude on what is simultaneously a rant and a plea to women everywhere. Please, I beg of you all, PLEASE throw away your bulging, bug-eyed, retired-in-Florida, 3-lb-per-lens sunglasses and promise never to buy another pair until you are retired and living in Florida. It's really getting out of hand. They didn't look good two years ago, and two years haven't changed anything for the better. I saw a girl yesterday whose glasses-area to face-area ratio was very seriously 1:1. Ok, so she had a kind of small face, but not THAT small. Out of hand. I've noticed that more and more women have developed a nasal, congested tone of voice in recent months, and doctors say that the rate of women between the ages of 16 and 35 who complain about sinus troubles has doubled in just one year. Please, do yourself and the rest of us a favor. It's time to move on to the next trend of eyeware: small, circular discs clamped between eyebrow and cheek. The next big thing, and you read it here first.

* Those following the Wiki-link would do well to scroll down past all that horse-piss about hipster being a beat or a jazz thing way back when until you get to the section "Modern Day Hipsters." Actually, fuck it, don't confuse yourself with such temporal discrepancies. Go here instead. Put a little Bright Eyes on for ambience, maybe. Just remember, it was written nearly three years ago, and may be about as relevant as a book on HTML from the same period.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Siding No More

I knew the day would come, but I hopelessly hoped it would be postponed indefinitely. The tearing-up of the street was but a test.

Three men drove up a short while ago in a van carrying scaffolding, and immediately started throwing it up along the front wall of our house. Give them another hour or two, and I'll probably have a stocky, buzz-headed, Polish man outside my window providing editorial commentary for the final draft of this posting. And then, sometime this afternoon, they'll pull out whatever angry machine it is that tears off siding, and the solace of my life will dissolve into anarchy.

How many days of waking up at 7am because someone just started sawing apart my wall? How many days will we actually
have to go outside to figure out if it's sunny or not? I know the stuff there now leaks whenever it rains. And it's ugly as sin, a tacky, faux-wood, plastic sheath (if you're looking for beautiful, Brooklyn, Cosby-family brownstones, you're in the wrong neighborhood, friend). But is it worth a week or more of considerable disruption? It's not that bad if the doorframe drips when it rains, and the watermark on the ceiling never hurt anyone... I've actually grown to embrace the decorative aesthetic, and may try for the same in the living room.

Alas, resistance is futile. They're already done with the first level of scaffolding. I'll have to sleep with my head in a soundproof styrofoam ball for a while. If that doesn't work, maybe I'll just have to get up at 7:00 and do yoga or something.

Oh! There he is, everybody wave. Guess it's time to go...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

We Live In Brooklyn

I'm hanging at Chris and Jon's place, at the corner of Box and Manhattan in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, up the street from my place. There's a party going on in the Greenpoint Manufacturing Building, and quite literally hundreds of cars, SUVs, and vans are parading around, flaunting their neon, rims, women, and hydraulics, and blasting hip-hop and reggaeton with the force of thousands of watts.

Everyone seems to have the same "Street Legal" (maybe?) sticker on their windshield. Some say "RIP Adam."

What the hell is going on?

Fuzz just showed up... circling

Earlier, a group of 25 vehicles paraded around the block, then all parked simultaneously. Kind of like in Mad Max, when the biker gang rolls into town. We're looking for the Toecutter...

Greenpoint seems to be heating up in the hip-hop scene, as one of Busta Rhymes's bodyguards was shot almost a month ago outside a soundstage during a video shoot.

It's all very fascinating, but what is it? What does it MEAN!?

Our only hypothesis comes from the Street Legal MySpace page. If the thousand images finally load, and you can actually read the type over the background clutter, check out the blog postings, look for the event on April 1st. Maybe a word-of-mouth afterparty?

Any explanations would be appreciated...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I Pity The Fool...

...who forgot to be a fool today.

In all seriousness, I wholeheartedly believe that to forget April Fool's Day and not have at least some small, premeditated prank in the works is to concede a little piece of vitality. My good friend Glenn and I have spoken lately of "growing up withouth growing old." Forget April Fool's, and you'll be one step closer to talking about the finer points of minivans on the porch of your overpriced, gargantuan, architecture-in-a-box, suburban home. It's not pretty, folks. And it's not like you can't plan for it, like it can just sneak up on you unexpected. It's not Easter or election day, both of which require a church, contact with media, or a complex prediction algorithm (ie. 1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday or whatever it is) to remember. It's April 1st. Every year, without fail. Easier than remembering your mother's birthday, even.

There is no excuse. None.

However, posting a claim such as this results in immediate self reflection, which can swiftly morph into self deprecation, somewhat akin to espousing the phrase, "Bored people are boring people," and then one day finding yourself counting flowers on the wall. I don't believe I've had a significant 4/1 prank in the works since a handful of us tried to empty the UM Music School classrooms of chairs and form a long line of them through the hallways. We only got through two classrooms, and most people just thought it was dumb. Ahh, next year.

No puckish schemes this time around, but I feel that sharing my favorite joke of all time may take me off the naughty list. It's terrible, I know, but I still love it. What's more, I was able to use it as an analogy last night for why education classes might not be of any help at all. And so...
A young enterpreneur buys a failing chicken factory, and sets about to create the most efficient chicken-packing business in the country. He hires three people to redesign and restructure the factory: a businessman, an engineer, and a physicist. Each has a month to mull over the problem and develop a proposal.

One month later, all convene at the enterpreneur's office. "Gentlemen, I thank you for your hard work and dedication, and, as all of you are recognized in your fields with the highest of honor, am most excited to see what you have brought to the table. As you know, the facility in question had, previously, a maximum daily output of 5,000 chickens at a cost of 80 cents a chicken. I have no doubt that you have managed to improve upon this significantly." The enterpreneur motions to the businessman, who begins.

"After a thorough analysis of your previous model, my team has come to the conclusion that your problems lie entirely in management." He then gives a 45 minute PowerPoint presentation to illustrate the point. At the end, he breaks down the numbers: "Using my new business model, we can guarantee a daily output of 10,000 chickens at 50 cents a chicken."

The enterpreneur, visibly impressed, compliments the businessman, then motions to the engineer to begin.

The engineer produces an interactive DVD, and begins. "By employing the latest in automated technology, plus several computers, I can increase your output to 20,000 chickens a day at a cost of merely 30 cents a chicken."

After the presentation, the enterpreneur is convinced and has forgotten entirely about the businessman, who is now wondering why he paid so much for his MBA. He motions to the physicist, with low expectations.

The physicist puts a large pad of newsprint on an easel, pulls out a marker, and turns to the enterpreneur. "50,000 chickens a day at 10 cents a chicken, this is what I can give you."

Aghast, the enterpreneur asks incredulously, "How on earth is that possible!?"

"Allow me to show you. First, assume a massless, frictionless, and spherical chicken..."
Thank you for the indulgence.

For those of you who are, like me, sitting happily at home on a Saturday night and burning out your retinas at the compy, I suggest you mosey over to Google and check out Google Romance. If you're reading this tomorrow, you may have to find it here.