Wednesday, March 29, 2006

[placeholder: signage no. 3]



Hypothetical Sufjan Stevens Albums - No. 4

Massachusetts: A State at Bay

1 - Moneyed Liberals' Chorus: K-E-N-N-E-D-Y
2 - It was a City on the Hill or The Ghost of John Winthrop Wakes me up at Night in Fright
3 - Walking down the Freedom Trail and What Paul Revere Found There
4 - Tea Party?
5 - A Man in the Woods by a Pond (Not Paying Taxes)
6 - Jack Kero-whack (or A Little Urban Rhyme with Pan Flute, Banjo, and Recorder)
7 - Young Goodman Brown
8 - Oh, Abigail, Why Must you Lie? Cause so Many to Die (1692)
9 - Marriage: It's Legal for Everyone Here
10 - I Don't Know Much about Jazz, so Here's a Tribute to the Taylor Family: James, Kate, Hugh, Sally, and Ben
11 - The Best Deep Fried Seafood on Good Ole Cape Cod


[For those playing at home, take a look at the tracklistings of this album and this album. They are the first two in his "50 States Project." Once you've done that, go buy "Illinois," because it is terrific. Everyone agrees.]

[from rivers]

[Click here for the complete (so far) Hypothetical Sufjan discography.]

Monday, March 27, 2006

[placeholder: signage no. 2]

[skanellus]
[whash me]
[ball of paint]

[back pounder]

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Food Goes Here: Kettle Corn

[A question: How do you make popcorn bad for you? Some people like butter and salt. Some people like caramel. Sometimes I go for both. Then I snort some powdered sugar and freebase some crisco. Eventually, my heart stops beating like a hummingbird's wings. Anyway, "kettle corn" is what happens when you take your popcorn to a place where sweet and salty are neighbors who carpool to work and don't have to drink from separate fountains. Most recipes will have you cooking the popcorn together with the sugar, and while that may work at the county fair, it's a real bitch at home (stuff burns at different temperatures, and then everything burns, and then you are sad). I've found that the best thing to do is to pop a bag of microwave popcorn (one that's salty), make some caramel, and then throw the two together. It's pretty simple, takes like ten minutes all told, and can be made with things you probably have on hand. Mmm...diabesity.]

What you will need:


1 bag o
f microwave popcorn
3 TB of sugar
3 TB of water

1 ts of corn syrup (optional)


What to do:

1 - Pop the popcorn.

2 - Add the sugar, water, and corn syrup to a very clean, large non-stick skillett.
3 - Bring the sugar-water to a boil over medium high heat. Swirl the pan occasionally (and carefully)

4 - Eventually, the water will evaporate, leaving you with boiling sugar. Boiling sugar is hotter than the sun, so be careful. It also wants to crystallize and make your life hell before you can turn it into caramel. That's what the teaspoon of corn syrup is for; it helps inhibit the production of crystals; you can make it without the corn syrup, but be careful.

5 - Take the popcorn out of the microwave, open it up.

6 - Watch the boiling sugar like it is your dayjob. This won't be hard, because boiling sugar is oddly hypnotic. Like watching a fire. Eventually it will turn, well, caramel c
olor. Don't go too dark or it'll go from "nutty with hints of vanilla" to "burnt tasting."
7 - Turn off the heat, and dump the popcorn in the pan.
8 - F
old the popcorn into the caramel with a spatula as best you can (be careful, the pan is still hot, and you can burn the caramel, so don't take too long).
9 - Once the popcorn is pretty well-coated, pour the mixture into a bowl.
10 - Wait like 30 seconds as it is still hot as hell. Eat.



[placeholder: signage]




Saturday, March 25, 2006

Topeka, KS - MCMLVIII - pt. 2 of 2

[Before you proceed, you should make sure that you've read pt. 1 here.]

[...]

-What did you do next?

-I headed over to the Rose Garden.
-What did you do there?
-Umm. Looked at roses, mostly.



-Huh.
-Yeah.
-And then what?
-Headed over to the Senior High School.
-How was the Senior High School?
-Like everything else in Topeka c. 1958, it was amazing!
-Why?
-'Cos. It just was, okay.
-Okay.


-And then we went to the Post Office.
-The Post Office.
-Yeah.
-We have a Post Office here.
-I know that.
-Did you have to mail something?
-Not really.
-You just went to the Post Office.

-You seemed so excited before. What happened?
-I dunno. It was kind of an act.
-An act?
-Yeah. I guess. I dunno.
-Wow.
-I mean: Where'd you go next? An office building.
-Yes.
-Seriously?
-Yes. I went to an office building. Happy?
-Actually, no.

-And I went and looked at another office building.
-Jesus Christ.
-What?
-C'mon.

-Then we went to the pool in Gage Park.
-You're depressing me.
-We saw a woman with an amazing tan line.
-Wow. A tan line.

-But then. We went to Monkey Island.
-What?
-It's an island with monkeys on it.
-Seriously?
-Yes.
-That's fucking amazing.
-I know. And they live in like an adobe apartment building.
-That's really weird.
-Yeah.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Topeka, KS - MCMLVIII - pt. 1 of 2

-So, how was Topeka c. 1958?
-How was it?! How was it?! Why: Glorious, mostly. Topeka c. 1958 was, well, Topeka c. 1958!

-Oh, wow! Sounds exciting!
-It was! After a quick stroll down Kansas Avenue...

...I headed straight over to the VA Hospital!

-The VA Hospital! Sounds thrilling!
-It was! Why, it's made of rectangles!
-Rectangles!
-Yes, rectangles! It was so great, I just had to see it from the air! So, I ran over to Forbes Air Force Base...

...and hopped in a helicopter to get an even better view of the VA Hospital!

-Wow! So many rectangles!
-That's what I thought!
-Where did you go next?
-Well, I just had to see Downtown from my godlike perch!
-Godlike! Did you judge people?
-You better believe it!
-Even the lawmakers in the State Capitol?
-Even the lawmakers.

-Who else did you judge?
-Why, the beatniks at Washburn University!

-Were there a lot of beatniks?
-Only two. But I gave them such a judging.
-Oh, wow! Topeka c. 1958 sounds amazing!

-It was, but there's more to Topeka c. 1958.
-More?
-Yes, more!

[...]

[placeholder: feminine graffiti/masculine tag]

Johnnie Walker is No Friend of Mine

Johnnie Walker acts like he's your friend. He's all like, "C'mon and hang out, have some whisky. I'll even let you try the ultra expensive, fancypants blue label." And you're all like, "Awesome! Johnnie's the fucking man!" So you show up, and you wait on line for a while:

And the door keeps opening, and every time it opens, you're like "Johnnie?" but it's always some bouncer guy who doesn't let you in. And eventually, some other guy comes out with a box, and he's all like, "Sorry, dude, we're all full up with people who are on a real list. Not some fakey list where you gave us your personal info on the InterWeb. Peace out, homey, have a hat." And you take the hat, because, really, what else can you do? But you're thinking: "This hat is red. I wonder if the people inside are wearing fancy blue hats." And you resent it, but you know that the next time he sends you an e-mail, you'll come running, because the prospect of free whisky is just too enticing. Plus, bullshitting while waiting on the line with your real friends (Ya hear that, Johnnie!?) was kind of fun. But you'll still hate yourself in the morning.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Don't Sleep on the Bus

[The commute from the Bronx takes the form a fairly long ride on a fairly cushy Express Bus. I usually fall asleep within minutes of sitting down. Today I did not.]

#1.

Still in the Bronx, I look up at a stop and see a fairly well-dressed, middle-aged Italian guy talking on his cell phone, and walking a pit bull on a length a yellow nylon rope. A woman walking two small dogs comes around the corner, and the pit bull immediately goes into a kind of freaked out, legs locked, "don't get me any closer to those horrible pomeranians" mode. Guy on phone doesn't notice. He also doesn't notice the nylon rope curled around his foot. WHAM. He goes down head first, laid out on his stomach. I look over, Tara is asleep. Camera? Camera? Camera? Shit. He gets up, pissed off, still on the cell phone. The pit bull is completely freaked out and the guy gives a half-hearted little kick in its direction. It crouches low. He misses. He gives another kick, with even less behind it (quarter-hearted?), that doesn't even come close to the dog. The bus pulls away.

# 2.

In Spanish Harlem, I look out the window at a light and see an old, fat Mexican guy and a young, fat Mexican guy sort of squared off to fight. There's always that half-second where one thinks, "Oh, they're screwing around." These two are not screwing around. Young guy goes in and lands a few punches. Old guy pulls his red cap (no writing or logo on it) off his head, and tosses it to the ground (I briefly have an "American Beauty" plastic bag moment as it twirls to the pavement). He swings at the young guy. Pedestrians swerve around the two guys as if they were handing out leaflets. I look over, Tara is still asleep. Camera? Camera? Camera? Shit. The bus starts moving. I crane my neck and see the two of them swinging.

[What have I missed in the past by falling asleep? What if none of this actually happened?]

Music + Video, pt. 1

There's a decent chance you've heard of Jon Brion in the past year. He produced the largely scrapped version of Fiona Apple's "Extraordinary Machine" (only the first and last songs on the official release are his productions) and co-produced Kanye West's "Late Registration." And before that he did the "I [Heart] Huckabees" Soundtrack (among other things). He's kind of great. This video's been floating around for a while (I think the great and powerful Roger sent it my way a while ago). It's Jon Brion doing a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" like Tom Waits. No seriously, it's cool.

Music + Video, pt. 2

Loose Fur is a Wilco offshoot, that seems (right now, anyway), to be specializing the more rawkin' part of Wilco. You can view the video for the new Loose Fur single "Hey, Chicken" here. It's pretty great and uses visuals from The Power Rangers TV show. Enjoy! Oh, and the new album's been getting pretty good reviews. Hoo-ray!

[An aside: Trying to figure how many bands share a link to Uncle Tupelo. Wilco and Son Volt, natch. Jay Farrar, and Jeff Tweedy's solo work (natch, again). Golden Smog (does this count...it's not really a group?). If you go from Golden Smog you've got the Replacements, the Jayhawks, Big Star, and Soul Asylum. Loose Fur and the Minus 5 (again, does Minus 5, count?). From Wilco, you can go to Jim O'Rourke and Sonic Youth. And John Stirratt's Autumn Defense (pretty). And Jay Bennett's solo work (meh). And Billy Bragg. And the Posies via the re-incarnated Big Star. From the Minus 5, you've got the Young Fresh Fellows and REM. And I'm sure a dozen bands I've never heard of, but I think that's enough nerdery for today. Oh wait: The Box Tops ("My baby, she wrote me a letter.") via Big Star. And Chris Bell solo material. Does it count as showing off if you're not impressing anyone...and making yourself sad in the process? Hey, this aside is longer than the main bit! I feel like David Foster Wallace. But not as talented or insightful. Or as published. Sigh.]

Music + Video, pt. 3

The trailer for "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" is online. Also, this clip of Johnston performing. His music is certainly not for everyone...or for every occasion, but the strange sweetness of his songs is oddly pretty.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

[placeholder: two step]

Hypothetical Sufjan Stevens Albums - No. 3

Indiana: We're Proud to be Called a Hoosier, Even if we Don't Know what One is!

1 - Back Home Again, Only I Never Left
2 - Gary, It's Better than Detroit
3 - Forever Evansville
4 - Twang, How I love That Country Twang
5 - Indy, Yeah It's the "Big City"
6 - If You Ain’t Rubbin’ You Ain’t Racin’ or How I Love NASCAR
7 - Corn and Beans [Radio Version]
8 - Ball State University - How I'd Rather Ball U than IU
9 - Ball of Paint [Previously Unreleased]
10 - We Got More 18 Wheelers than You
11 - I-69
12 - Lazy Pigeons [Explicit Lyrics]
13 - My Ex Took My Broaster
14 - Indiana, North of Kentucky but Miles from Nowhere
15 - Goin' to Warshington
16 - Terre Haute
17 - John Mellencamp or is it John Cougar Mellencamp or Just John Cougar or Is it Just Mellencamp?
18 - Corn and Beans [Remix]

[For those playing at home who may be unfamiliar with Mr. Stevens, take a look at the tracklistings of
this album and this album. They are the first two in his "50 States Project." Once you've done that, go buy "Illinois," because it is terrific. Everyone agrees.]

[from devoe]

[Click here for the complete (so far) Hypothetical Sufjan discography.]

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Famous rejections:

As a colt, Seabiscuit had dreamed of being a performing horse in the circus. After being rejected as "too mangy," he met up with Red Pollard, who had just been rejected from the army for being "too Irish." The two solved crimes for a time as beloved, itinerant detectives -- they were given the honor of pulling the switches on Sacco and Vanzetti -- before hitting the horseracing circuit...and, well, you know the rest.

In 1933, Albert Einstein traveled to California for a screen test with Daryl F. Zanuck. Zanuck criticized his "intellectual mien" and screamed, "no more eggheads" before casting Maurice Chevalier in "The Man from Folies Bergère." Beside himself, Einstein fell back on his second love: painting. After being rejected from the same Austrian art school as Hitler, he fell in with a group of theoretical physicists...and, well, you know the rest.

Growing up in Havana, Fidel Castro had always wanted to be a competitive eater, and traveled to New York for the 1939 World's Fair. After eating his weight in Cracker Jack, he was refused the grand prize -- a trip to Adam Smith's birthplace -- because of his beardedness. Distraught, he turned his attention to the free prize in one of his empty Cracker Jack boxes: a miniature version of Das Kapital...and, well, you know the rest.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Passive Aggressive Compliments for Passive Aggressive People

- Your half-hearted take on just about everything is really quite interesting.
- Being asked something directly can really put a person on the spot. Thank you for never doing that to me.
- Uncertainty just might be one of the things that makes me a better person.
- I appreciate guessing games, and I guess that's why I appreciate you.
- Congratulations, I've never put so much effort into figuring out what someone wanted from me.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Songs from Screenplays - No. 2

"That's What They Do" by The Cable Guy (think Fallout Boy)

[verse]

Last time we fought
I let you win.
Can you believe that?
We all get lonely.
Don't do this to me,
Then just play it cool.
Do you feel good
Now that you've hurt me?

[chorus]

That's what they do.
That's not the point.
Why should I help you?
I wouldn't feel right.
That's what they do.
That's not the point.
I guess I crossed the line.
I guess I crossed the line.

[verse]

I'm about finished here.
You didn't have to do that.
I'll never be your friend.
There's no stopping me today.
You're playing with me again.
That guy is bad news.
I was protecting you.
You don't even know him.

[chorus]

That's what they do.
That's not the point.
Why should I help you?
I wouldn't feel right.
That's what they do.
That's not the point.
I guess I crossed the line.
I guess I crossed the line.

[verse]

It was payback time.
I taught you a lesson.
All she had to do was say no,
You didn't cross the line.
You ruined the game.
That's what the armor's for.
One piece of advice.
Don't do anything stupid.

[chorus]

That's what they do.
That's not the point.
Why should I help you?
I wouldn't feel right.
That's what they do.
That's not the point.
I guess I crossed the line.
I guess I crossed the line.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Good Things about "The Sopranos" that Some People Mistake for Bad Things

- Tony doesn't change.
- It's never completely clear how much time has passed in between seasons/episodes/scenes.
- It is violent.
- The Russian guy never came back.
- It isn't violent enough.

[placeholder: backyards]

Friday, March 17, 2006

I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got or Marcia Ball Gets Pwned




Nobody knows who Bettye LaVette is, but everyone should. A soul singer who slipped through the cracks in terms of recognition (and commercial success), her voice seems to share DNA with both Nina Simone and Tina Turner, equally capable of hitting powerful raspy highs and digging down to soulful lows. Last year Anti Records (a division of the punk label Epitaph, and home to Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Neko Case) hooked up with LaVette and they came up with a Joe Henry produced album of covers of songs written by women (including Dolly Parton, Fiona Apple, and Aimee Mann). The same general idea worked really well with Solomon Burke's Don't Give Up on Me, but it might work even better for LaVette.

Tara bought tickets for her concert at BB Kings in Times Square as a Valentine's Day present. This is what Tara said: "I got you Bettye LaVette tickets." I looked at the tickets, and sure enough, they said Bettye LaVette. Through some kind of aphasia, Tara and I didn't notice that LaVette was the opening act, and someone named Marcia Cross was the headliner. Upon arriving at BB King's we realized our bit of blindspottedness, and settled in at our table wondering about the headliner. "We'll see," we figured, "if she's the headliner, maybe she's even better?"


While I want to like BB King's I continue to be annoyed by it. The place seems more interested in selling booze and food than hosting musicians, and the waitstaff routinely shouts over the music to tell patrons about this week's martini special (An aside: I am sick of drinks served in martini glasses that have nothing to do with martinis. Whatever.). The rudeness of the waiters and waitresses bleeds into the audience, and chitchat is the norm rather than the exception. As a veteran "look-giver" and "shusher" this drives me fucking crazy.


Bettye LaVette came out and tore the place up. The songs I was familiar with blew me away in person, the songs I didn't know made me upset that I'd never heard them before. Watching her, I got the feeling that hard work was never so much fun...or maybe that having fun was never so much work - one of them, anyway. "This song is from the award-winning album," she said at one point. "It feels nice to say that. Award-winning. Lord knows I've never won anything else in my life." Self-deprecating humor without pity is deeply winning, and when it's wrapped up in an act that is both raw and totally professional, it's just about undeniable. By the end of her set, the (usually talky) audience was uniformly quiet. As her second to last song wound down, the band stepped offstage one by one, leaving her to finish it alone. She then went into her final song, "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got," and sang the whole thing a capella. The audience was damn-near reverent, my eyes welled up in spite of myself, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. Damn. She exited to raucous applause. Congratulations, Bettye, you deserved it (and more). Oh, by the way, I'm in love with you.


And then Marcia Ball came out. Like I said: I had no real idea who she was, so you can chalk my reaction up to ignorance if you want, but, well I hated her. She played boring, uptight, white people boogie-woogie. She played the keyboard with her legs crossed. I don't why this drove me crazy, but it did. The phrase "ladies ride side saddle" popped into my head and I imagined some bluenose piano teacher instructing her: "Whores play with their knees apart. Keep 'em together, Marcia." Shudder. How little did I enjoy it? She played a song about the destruction of a neighborhood in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and I couldn't focus on it. Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" makes me want to weep openly whenever I hear it - and I fucking hate Randy Newman. Marcia Ball, live, right in front of me, could only evoke an apathetic, "Meh."

[You can listen to some clips of Bettye LaVette's work here, and you can read a Daily News article on her here at Anti's website. Read until the final line. It's awesome.]

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Monkey Truisms:

[from Monkey Matters Magazine]

- The larger the monkey, generally speaking, the bigger the problem.
- Monkeys are escape artists and may unfasten their belts, their leashes, wiggle the bolts from their kennel carriers, find ways to escape cages or other housing.
- It is not reasonable to expect that you will never be bitten by any monkey.
- An angry monkey has the cunning and dexterity to leap into the air and accurately take a swipe an the human eye, or to bite the human body in the most vulnerable places, the jugular vein, the veins of the wrists, the nerve-filled fingers of the hand.
- Greater intelligence in monkeys does not equal greater mindfulness.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

[placeholder: moonlight]

Hypothetical Sufjan Stevens Albums - No. 2

Connecticut: The New England Tri-State!

1 - Wallace Stevens And His Thirteen Ways
2 - Charles Ives Conducts the American Spirit
3 - The Foliage Turns, then Falls to Earth
4 - The Merit Parkway and The Mystic Seaport
5 - Patriot Day is Celebrated as a Matter of Course
6 - Fairfield, Oh! So Far Afield!
7 - Stratford-on-the-Housatonic or William Shakespeare Lives on in the Rivers of Connecticut
8 - The Greatest Show on Earth! (A Believer’s Born Every Minute)
9 - Noah Webster Charts the Course or The American Tongue is Brash and Reckless
10 - Charlie Parker Said that after New York, Every Other City is Bridgeport...Let's Prove Him Right!
11 - A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of Your Heart
12 - Part 1 - Benedict Arnold and the Burning of New London - Part 2 - The General Dynamics Plant Across the River is All That’s Keeping the Kids Around
13 - Stamford, You are More than the Mall That Defines You
14 - Skull and Bones
15 - A New Haven for Both of us

[For those playing at home who may be unfamiliar with Mr. Stevens, take a look at the tracklistings of
this album and this album. They are the first two in his "50 States Project." Once you've done that, go buy "Illinois," because it is terrific. Everyone agrees.]

[Click here for the complete (so far) Hypothetical Sufjan discography.]

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

RRATAELPTE*

DDIHSK = Deep Down I Hate Santoku Knives
IAGTOTFN = I Am Gradually Taking Over The Food Network
PPMCPI = Play "Piano Man!" C'mon, Play It! [Billy Joel concerts only]
B = Brains!
FTBSITTTD = Frig The Bullspit, It's Time To Throw Down

*Rachel Ray Abbreviations That Are Even Less Popular Than EVOO**
**Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

C'est La Vie

I don't know when it happened exactly, but at some point toothbrushes became too fat to fit into the holes of the toothbrush holder in our bathroom. Now, instead sitting upright, pert and ready for action, our Rubenesque toothbrushes lounge around on their sides atop their putative "holder," making a mockery of all notions of rationality in the free market economy. Seriously, if one cannot count on toothbrush manufacturers and toothbrush holder manufacturers to agree upon a diameter and stick to it, what can one count on? "Do we need," I wondered, "a regulatory body for the toothbrush industry?"

And yet I've grown to like my newly languorous toothbrush. There's something downright European about its lifestyle. A few minutes of work every day, and then hours spent in quiet relaxation next to what I've come to think of as his wife. Actually, wife might be a little too constricting for him, a little too traditional. Is that his mistress? His live-in girlfriend? Who can say, really? They come to the market once a week and are always quite pleasant, so who cares? They're not hurting anyone, and clearly they make each other happy. I hear they met in Venice, on holiday, but there is a rumor going around that they're second cousins. Oh, tongues will wag - they always do - but what is that compared to love, no?

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Million Ways to be Super-Terrific

[OK GO is a band from Chicago that got a good amount of airplay a few years ago with "Get Over it" (memory jog: "G-g-g-g-get over it"). Their video for "A Million Ways to Be Cruel" is terrific, but is no match for the imagination of a child. And by "imagination," I mean "near-robotic mimicry."]

Good.


Better.


Best.

[Unrelatedly, it looks like
the lead singer of the band, Damian Kulash, was arrested recently for, umm, standing around and stuff. From the site: "he'd like to address two rumors that have sprung up on the Internet in the last 24 hours: No, he wasn't drunk; and Yes, he did get the arresting officer to watch the 'A Million Ways' video on the on-board computer. If that's not awesome, awesome doesn't exist." Hear, hear!]

Problems with "Dave Chappelle's Block Party"

- It was not eight to twelve hours long.
- We walked through Central Park on the way to the movie, and it was pretty crowded because it was so nice out.
- Why won't Mos Def be friends with me?
- At no point were The Black Eyed Peas brought on stage and mocked.
- The movie engendered a warm feeling of love for all mankind in me that quickly dissipated when I stepped out of the theater.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Songs from Screenplays - No. 1

"Landing Light" by Die Hard 2: Die Harder (think PJ Harvey)

[verse]

I've got lost kids, lost dogs.
I've got international diplomats.
We've got a body in the morgue,
It seems to have died twice.
Well then, the damage is minimal.
Maybe we could go get a drink?
How about a little team spirit?
Just routine. A murder on television.

[chorus]

You think you're funny.
You think you're funny.
I've got your number.
Blood stain and all.

[verse]

Relax, I'm just doing my job.
Who I am is unimportant.
You are the wrong person
At the wrong place at the wrong time.
I've got enough friends.
I thought they were the army.
Hold on a second, cowboy.
We're out of danger now.

[chorus]

You think you're funny.
You think you're funny.
I've got your number.
Blood stain and all.

[verse]

Who gives a fuck, just be ready.
I see the lights,
They are directly in front of me.
So much for the element of chance.
There are no more surprises,
I'm just your kind of asshole.
How could the same shit
Happen to the same guy twice?

[chorus]

You think you're funny.
You think you're funny.
I've got your number.
Blood stain and all.

[fade out]

Here's your fucking landing light.
Here's your fucking landing light.
Here's your fucking landing light.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hypothetical Sufjan Stevens Albums - No. 1

New York, New York - It's a Helluva State

1 - Mannahatta or Walt Whitman's Ferry Comes Bearing Beads and Trinkets
2 - Broadway Lights Shine for You
3 - Scarsdale! Bronxville! Rye! (White Flight Rules the Suburbs!!!)
4 - Buffalo City or Norman Mailer States the Obvious
5 - Dutch Schultz Sings the Blues as Joey Noe Fades Away at Roosevelt Hospital
6 - Part 1 - New York, New York (They Named you Twice) - Part 2 - Gotham City Reveals its True Nature in Central Park at Dawn
7 - Niagara Falls and Slips through my Fingers
8 - Seagulls Feed at the Staten Island Landfill, Hawks Return to Central Park, Pigeons Nest in my Air Conditioner in Brooklyn
9 - I'd Buy a House in Yonkers (Lottery)
10 - Skaneatles
11 - Suburban Tracksuits Represented by a Collection of Swishing Noises (Long Island Lolita, I Hear You!)
12 - The Yankees Win or a Bronx Cheer for the Underdog
13 - Jimmy Breslin Writes an Article and I Read it While Waiting for my Subway to Arrive in the Late 1970s
14 - The Harlem Renaissance (125th Street Awakens!)
15 - St. John the Divine

[For those playing at home who may be unfamiliar with Mr. Stevens, take a look at the tracklistings of
this album and this album. They are the first two in his "50 States Project." Once you've done that, go buy "Illinois," because it is terrific. Everyone agrees.]

[Click here for the complete (so far) Hypothetical Sufjan discography.]

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Vegas in 21:


1.

[Our cab driver from the airport to the hotel is named Jerry Lewis and sounds more than a little like "Slingblade."]

2.

[Tara and I are about to head to lunch at a fairly nice restaurant]


Voice on phone: Mon Ami Gabi, how can I help you?
Me: Hi, just wondering, would it be a problem to wear jeans at lunch?
Voice on phone: No--

Me: --Okay--
Voice [totally serious]: --unless you are also wearing a muscle T, as wel
l.
Me: That wasn't in the plan. Thanks.

3.

[We ride the Las Vegas Monorail.]

Me [a la "The Simpsons"]: Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

[I am not the first person to do this.]

4.

[I hear "No Myth" on a speaker playing in public. This triggers a set of flashbacks to grammar school. "I'm between the poles and the equator / Don't send a private investigator / To find me please..." Gawd, I hate Sr. Rose's science class. Did Michael Penn win a Grammy?]

5.

[Young guy in the New York, New York casino talking to his friends as they pass "Sirico's Pizza."]

Guy: This place has really good pizza.


[An Indian-on-the-side-of-the-road-style tear rolls down my cheek]

6.

My father, Red: I love Vegas. You can smoke wherever you want.

7.

[Tara and I are walking by the fountains outside the Bellagio. They are doing their choreographed fountain thing to, no shit, "Proud to be an American." I overhear the following conversation.]

Young Guy #1: I'm sure that's the last time we were here.
Young Guy #2: How are you sure?
#1: 'Cos it was a year after September 11th?
#2: How do you remember that?
#1: New York, New York was giving out those pins.

#2: Oh yeah, they were.

8.

My mother, Maggie: I love Vegas, you can smoke wherever you want.

9.

[Guy in front of us at as ATM in a casino. Talking to himself/no one in particular/everyone]

ATM guy: If I can't win at this, then I really am unlucky.

[ATM prints receipt, guy snatches receipt and walks away.]

ATM screen: INSUFFICIENT FUNDS FOR TRANSACTION.


10.

[I hear "No Myth" again, this time live by a band in a casino lounge. “...Unless he speaks Chinese / And can dance like a sail on the seas / Okay.” Gawd, Mrs. Sullivan is the worst. Seriously, I think he won the best new artist Grammy.]


11.

[We go into the nice casinos -- The Paris, The Venetian, The Bella
gio -- and my general reaction to them is that a nice casino is like a nice mall. It's true, and it's sort of a compliment, but it's also utterly without meaning.]

12.

[We switch hotels from the Flamingo to the Tropicana -- it's a short-but-boring story -- and there's a mirror on the ceiling over our bed. Actually: Every flat surface in the general vicinity of the bed is decked out in mirrors, which are, in turn, decked out in bamboo. Vegas! Tropicana! Huzzah!]


13.

["Summer of '69" is played by "dueling pianos" in a casino bar. When they get to the chorus they sing "That was the summer of -- " and the crowd shouts out "69!"]


14.

[If black has come up the last six times at the roulette table, the next spin has to be red. Good-bye $40.]

15.

["Las Vegas is like Disney World for adults." More accurate: "Las Vegas is like Disney World for addicts." Still more accurate: "Las Vegas is nothing like Disney World at all."]

16.

[We see "Jubilee!" a showgirl review, and I spend the performance baffled and confused, trying to think of ways to describe it. The best I can come up with is: It's like a drag show without all that cross-dressing.]

17.


[We're leaving a casino to head back to our hotel room and stop at the bar to get some water.]

Bartender: What can I get for you?
Us: Just two glasses of water.
Bartender: Are you guys over 21?


18.

[Minutes later. We get back to our hotel and stop at the bar to get some water.]

Bartender: What can I get for you?
Us: Just two glasses of water.
Bartender: Are you guys over 21?

19.


[Seven -- we counted -- timeshare hawkers try to stop us in our last two hours in Vegas.]

Hawker 5 of 7 [ominously, as we walk away]: You'll be back...

20.

[What's that David Foster Wallace essay? "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." I can't even remember if I've read that. I can't remember anything. Why does it take so long to walk everywhere? Where is the exit?]

21.


[At the airport, an older woman with a New Yawk accent is talking on her cell phone.]

Woman: We saw Celine Dion. We had second row seats. I don't know how we did it, we just ordered them, and that's what we got. She was good, but she is neither as tall nor as pretty as she looks on TV.