Friday, May 23, 2008

Feel Your Love Tonight

Tonight I'll be playing records and my brother Sky will be tending bar at Arrow, aka The Rook, in the East Village. There is no format except for me playing my favorite songs, both of all time and of right this second—so you can expect to hear Gang Starr next to The Emotions, Cortex after Kevin Drew, Beat Happening and The United States of America and Don Pierce. Maybe even some Sillhouettes and Chips. A gigantic jukebox that is yours truly.

Please stop by for some drinks and good-time feelings.

Arrow aka The Rook
85 Avenue A (between 5th and 6th)
Friday, May 23, 9pm—

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Surely You're Happy

Today is Morrissey's 49th birthday. Happy birthday, Morrissey.

The Smiths are not my favorite band of all time or anything, but I am a huge fan, and they are one of the few bands I will happily listen to over and over. Still, I am regularly surprised at the level of obsession grown people are capable of when it comes to this person—it has really gotten out of control. The cult of Morrissey in New York seemed to hit a frenzied peak maybe four years ago when Sway was in full swing, and has waned since. But when you least expect it, freakish obsession still rears its head from time to time.

Apparently there IS a light that never goes out!

(Admittedly lame, couldn't help it, the exclamation point tells you I know it's lame... !)

With all of that in mind, this week Wonting asked friends to name their favorite Morrissey songs. I never got that into his solo stuff much, so all of mine are Smiths songs, and here they are.

1. What Difference Does It Make?
There was a period of time working at Visionaire when we literally listened to The Smiths all day every day, and by the end this was the only song I still wasn't tired of.

2. Half a Person
The first time I came to New York, I stayed in the YMCA, so for whatever reason I retroactively feel some kind of connection with this song, though I never engaged in back-scrubbery.

3. How Soon Is Now
I borrowed this record from my friend Michelle and never gave it back. Is that stealing? How can you say? (! -ed.)

4. William, It Was Really Nothing

Being from Seattle I feel a weird kind of angsty pride when he sings "the rain falls hard in a hum-drum town/this town has dragged you down."

5. (3-way tie!)
Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before
That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
What She Said

I think I like these songs for the same reason I enjoyed reading Less Than Zero six times in a row in high school. "I've seen this happen in other people's lives, and now it's happening in mine." There's a sort of salty detachment there that I identify with for whatever reason. I think a lot of my feelings about Smiths songs would best be described using sentences that end with "for whatever reason."

This image is from Irregular Regulars (Team Gallery, 2007), Ryan McGinley's series of crowd photographs from Morrissey shows. (More images and an interview at

In Deep Concentration

No time for a gigantic original post today, so here's an interesting excerpt from a 2004 interview with DJ Premier I ran across while working on a book for Wax Poetics:
Andrew Mason: How important is it when you’re making hip-hop music to be well rounded in the culture?

DJ Premier:
To me, it’s very important. That’s why I keep it funky like I always do. I don’t care if people criticize and say my stuff sounds similar to this or this, it don’t bother me none. I’m a true DJ and I know a good record when I hear it. Everybody doesn’t have the ear for this. I have an ear that’s beyond most human beings’ ears when it comes to music. My library, all hip-hop put aside, what I listen to at the crib, you can’t front on it. I play nothing but raw shit. I like rock music, all that. AC/DC, Rush, Pat Benetar, Joan Jett, Simple Minds, Yes, Led Zeppelin, the Cars, I know my shit! Blue Oyster Cult, I can go any direction!

I used to be one of the only people in my high school who would wear the punk rock gear, with the double belts, the boots and all that! I wasn’t afraid of that at all. At that time, that was the rebel style. That went into hip-hop culture too, because I remember how Flash and them was dressed, with the leather and spikes and all. That punk rock and New Wave era was dope. You can’t even compare it to the “punk” that’s out now, you gotta know about groups like Fad Gadget, Tones on Tail, Bauhaus, old Depeche Mode, the Smiths. Morrissey is gay and I understood his lyrics for what they were saying, but at the same time I liked his music. It was dope and you can’t front on it. I respected him with an open mind. Most people who are homophobic have some problems that way anyway, so I wasn’t really afraid of it. They’re just human beings and that’s their preference. But I was into the Smiths, I was into Souxsie and the Banshees, Devo, the B-52s, Talk Talk, I went to all those concerts. As a matter of fact, I found my memory book from high school and I got mad concert tickets of all kinds of shows I went to. I’ve been to see AC/DC millions of times, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Genesis, all that.
And here are some of my favorite Premier-produced tracks:
Jeru the Damaja Invasion MP3
Krumbsnatcha Gettin' Closer to God MP3
Chubb Rock, OC, and Jeru Crooklyn MP3
Notorious BIG Machine Gun Funk (unreleased Remix) MP3

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hedz Ain't Ready

Wes Lang, Tits and Flags..., 2008, mixed media on antique paper, 22 x 27 inches

Are You Ready for the Country?, the third show at ZieherSmith gallery by Brooklyn artist Wes Lang, opens this Thursday. Again, not to get all repetitive, but ZieherSmith is kind of killing it right now, in my humble opinion.

I'll Sail My Ship Alone..., 2008, mixed media on antique paper, 13 5/8 x 11 5/16 inches

The Taste Of Life's Sweet Wine..., 2008, mixed media on antique paper, 22 x 27 inches

Buy US Bongs..., 2008, mixed media on antique paper, 22 x 26 7/8 inches

ZieherSmith is at 533 West 25th Street in Chelsea, NYC.
More images from the show at
Wes Lang's CV and past exhibitions here.

Streets of Glory, 2004, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 22 inches (from Home at Last, 2004)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Blue Turning Gray

Mount St. Helens erupted 28 years ago yesterday. I was nine at the time so I guess I didn't totally understand the magnitude of it, but I remember we got sent home from school early, and I remember hearing from my cousins that Aberdeen was covered in ash. My grandpa's cattle were also dusted over in Ellensburg—the ash blowing everywhere affected the entire Northwest. I saved a little vial of the stuff, I'm sure it's around here somewhere.

These black and white photos are by Frank Gohlke, and are collected in his excellent book Mount St. Helens, published by the Museum of Modern Art on the occasion of his exhibition at the museum in 2005.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Blue Turning Gray MP3

Not long after Mount St. Helens erupted we got two kittens. Our first cat, Mama Kitty, had just died at the age of 19. To this day she still shares the title of Best Cat Ever with Betty Whiskers and Mr. Littlejeans. She was much older than us—my mom had gotten her some time in the sixties—and it always seemed like she was taking care of us. In this picture, taken a few years earlier, my brother returns the favor:

And here are the kittens. My brother and I named the gray one Toutle—after the color of the Toutle River, which they kept showing on the news, filled with ash from Mount St. Helens.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Raise the Roof

Mini burgers, beers, green jell-o and good times for all on a mostly sunny Saturday at Anna's house for Janice and Lisa's Birthdays.
More pictures on my Flickr page

The Sporting Life, part two

At the Preakness, Big Brown pulls off another impressive victory—one more to go for the triple crown. On to Belmont!