Friday, October 31, 2008

Full Benny action

Benny Andersson has always been my favorite member of Abba. There's many things I love about him so I'll pick just one: the way he beams in many of the group's videos and in live footage. There he is, banging on his piano, bobbing his head, looking happy as a Swedish clam. But it's not self-satisfaction you can read on his face: He looks as if he can't believe his luck of having the other three to help him create such brilliant pop.

Conversely, I recently learned that his "Tröstevisa" is the piece of music that's played the most at Swedish funerals.

About a month ago Benny was given a honorary doctorate by Stockholm University, and he recently participated in a one-on-one chat there. Of course the Dilettante's Special Stockholm Correspondent was in attendance, camera in hand, and he emailed the following.

"Today, I attended Benny Andersson's lecture at Stockholm University. Or, rather, his conversation with the head of musicology, professor Holger Larsen. Visibly nervous, but quickly warming up to the encouragement—in the form of smiles, laughter and gentle applause—of the audience (there were about 200-250 of us), he talked about his career and played a few songs on the grand piano, including one from Chess and two or three from BAO [a.k.a. Benny Anderssons Orkester]. One he played that I hadn't heard before was "Cirkus Finemang" (an almost untranslatable title; 'Finemang' is something my grandparents might have said, meaning 'top stuff', 'smashing'). Actually, an orchestral studio version was played in the big speakers, and then Benny played the solo bit in the middle live. I was quite touched by the haunting melody.

And he had brought a CD with a medley of favourites, seven or eight tracks, though sadly I don't know what all of them were. Well, one was a traditional Swedish folk song (performed on fiddles) and one was Maria Callas, and another one I'm pretty sure was Le mystère des voix bulgares, and then there was 'Good Vibrations' by the Beach Boys.

No great surprises perhaps, but he really comes across as a very nice person. He said making music is making choices. You choose what you want to do and where you want to go (if you have that particular gift). He told us he drew on a slightly different set favourites from British and American composers of popular music: Caterina Valente, Hugo Montenegro, Mantovani, 50's and 60's Schlager—as well as the expected Beach Boys.

They were going to broadcast the conversation live, but opted against it at the last minute. They were supposed to talk for an hour and then have some questions from the floor, but Benny didn't seem to want to stop, so the whole thing went on for an hour and a half. And he signed autographs afterwards! My impression is Benny's a music man, through and through. He loves music, making it and, I think, listening to it.

When asked what he thought about the present (conservative) government's plans to drastically cut funding for music, drama and dance in Swedish schools, he said he didn't know that this was more than a proposal, but if it were, we would need a new government. And he added, I think we need a new government anyway! Considering the amount of times he's been accused of being a greedy capitalist, this, I thought, was quite a strong statement. Curiously enough, there was no great round of applause. (This is a government that has abolished free museum entry and has talked about introducing charges in libraries…)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Burning up the French screens

Burning up the French television screens, that is—and it's philosophy we're talking about. If you live in France, this fall you can watch a new show that explores all kinds of topics in a philosophical light. This isn't new for the country: In my last year of high school there, I had eight hours of philosophy a week (I was in the so-called literary section, but still), and the popular monthly Philosophie Magazine has features like Manu Chao chatting with his old philosophy teacher.

Anyway, the format of the new TV show is really intriguing: In each installment, host Raphaël Enthoven discusses a single topic with a guest. The hook: It's all shot in a 26-minute-long single take! It doesn't hurt that Enthoven is a hottie who not only writes books about Kant and Montaigne, and contributes to the aforementioned mag, among other publications, but used to be married to Bernard-Henry Levy's daughter Justine, whom he left for…Carla Bruni. This collision of celeb-watching and matters of the mind makes me incredibly giddy for some reason.

Monday, October 27, 2008

All about Godard

The September issue of Harper's (yes, I'm way behind) is a particularly good vintage. The centerpiece is Paul Reyes's matter-of-factly depressing "Bleak Houses," about cleaning up foreclosed homes in Florida.

J. Hoberman also has "Godard the Obscure," the kind of essay that makes the death spiral of the Village Voice, where he is a film critic, even more painful; where are people like him going to write as more and more publications go down the drain? Hoberman knows his stuff: You have to in order to write something like "Rimbaud abandoned poetry to run guns. So, too, Godard, although in his case it was as though he had abandoned poetry for the idea of running the idea of guns." In a short sentence, Hoberman encapsulates Godard's immediate post-Weekend work.

That said, it bothers me a bit that the essay is announced as discussing Richard Brody's Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard, because Hoberman doesn't actually engage with the book. He mentions it a few times but that's it. This approach bugs me about the New Yorker's book reviews too: The vast majority of them just use a recent publication as a convenient peg from which to hang a coat one had been wanting to trot out for a while. Hoberman's piece is a smart take on Godard's evolution as a filmmaker, but after finishing it, I have no idea what Hoberman thought of Brody's own take.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Róisín and the amazing technicolor overcoats

There's concerts, and then there's events. Róisín Murphy at Mansion tonight was definitely in the latter category. I've seen lots of pop extravaganzas over the years, but this one made me feel as if my brain had imploded. In a good way, of course.

Róisín is the Tilda Swinton of pop: Beyond their blonde palor, the two women share a sense of eccentric style and quirky tastes, as well as a gift to incorporate the experimental into the mainstream and an earthy sense of humor that sets them well aside from the safe discourse of most performers. Even when they venture into the commercial realm—Tilda Swinton in The Chronicles of Narnia, say, or Róisín recording a disco anthem—there's something completely sui generis about the way they go about it. The video for "Movie Star," for instance, pays tribute to both Leigh Bowery and John Waters's Multiple Maniacs, with Róisín getting molested by a lobster.

But back to last night.

The sense that something special was brewing was clear as soon as the Sheila and I rounded the corner of W 28th St: the entire block was taken up by the biggest line I've seen for a show in years, if not ever; inside Mansion, a sprawling deluxe establishment with plenty of nooks and crannies, chandeliers and disco balls, the bilevel main floor was already packed to the gills (the crowd was 80% male, perhaps because the show was presented by the Saint at Large).

Things started off with a pounding 4/4 beat, which turned out into "Cry Baby," the most Moroderish track on the singer's last album, Overpowered. She showed up wearing a shiny gold jacket over black leggings, a long-sleeved, skintight white top, vertiginous heels, black leather gloves and shades (which, of course, she took off on the line "Tired of wiping the tears from your eyes"). On the next song Róisín traded the jacket for a fringed leather one.

The jacket and accessories switches went on until about halfway through, when she stepped it up: She attached a fake hump to her back, then covered it with an enormous fluffy Big Bird–like cape, topped off with a large dinner-plate hat. There was also a large white angel-wing-shaped fur overcoat matched with a black fetish cap. And a deep pink/red hat with a face on it. And ballooning gold overalls with corset lacing at the back. And a dress that looked like it had been built by Frank Gehry. And more hats and gloves and shoes. There was a change for every song, and the best part is the music never stopped—it was like the concert version of a mix-CD.

The craziest outfit may well have been for "Overpowered": a tartan deer cape (with an actual deer-like animal precariously perched on top of the shoulders like some kind of Surrealistic stole) topped with an antler hat, like an even more demented version of Björk's swan dress. At the end of the song, Róisín collapsed to the floor, taking out the garment as she did and cradling the animal. It was completely bizarre and completely riveting.

And yet she came back and topped it! On the finale, an explosive version of "Rama Lama (Bang Bang)," she wore a foofy coat made of real chicken feathers, then at the end started a brawl with her backup singers, the three women tumbling to the floor (again!) and exchanging fisticuffs.

Through 90 minutes, Róisín never let up: This woman knows how to work a stage. Yet far from the over-rehearsed aerobicized vulgarity all too common among American pop and R&B stars, she danced like a club girl: There were just enough poses and coordinated moves with her backup singers to indicate that careful thought had gone into it all, but her goofy energy was that of someone who's logged miles on a real dance-floor. Plus she indulged in energetic headbanging a few times, blonde hair flying all over.

Someone's already posted some videos from last night, which should give you a vague idea of the fever-pitch excitment of it all: "Cry Baby", "Dear Miami," "Overpowered" (with the deer!), "Forever More" and "Movie Star." I'm sure more will be posted once the revelers wake up.

Finally, I've talked a lot about the visuals, but Róisín has got to be one of the most underrated singers around, with a sexy, smokey tone that's all her own. Check out this live rendition of Moloko's "The Time Is Now" on a British TV show: just gorgeous. "Let Me Know" (which was disco heaven last night) ain't too shabby either.

Friday, October 24, 2008

All the young skanks

You gotta have a gimmick, especially on Broadway, so the musical 13 has one: there isn't a single adult in the cast. (The title refers to the lead character's turning that age, and the plot hinges on his bar mitzvah.) But this isn't my main problem with the show, and as much as he set himself up as a target for ridicule in his recent New York Times profile, Jason Robert Brown's score isn't either. My colleague Adam Feldman shot down 13 with his usual deadly accuracy in his Time Out New York review, but he didn't really explore the one aspect that bugged me most: 13's bizarrely musty mysogyny.

The show opens with a scene in which the kids dance up a storm in what's supposed to be a New York street. One of the girls is leaning against a lamppost, striking a come-hither pose. "Is she supposed to be a hooker?" I whispered to my friend, only half-joking. She wasn't, but she sure looked like one. And it was all downhill from there: The love interest is a bland hippy chick, the best friend is a sexually aggressive manipulator, the popular girl has zero personality. None of them registers at all, and all of them are stuck in thankless parts with thankless songs. There's just something seriously wrong about a show that depicts a young girl in such a light that the Times critic feels at liberty to describe her as "skanky." (To be clear: there's something icky about both the show and the critic so casually calling a 13-year-old girl skanky.)

Finally, and unrelated to the girl issue, these guys have the gumption to poke fun at Disney. Sure, Disney's done its share of dreck, but it's also brought to Broadway the likes of Julie Taymor, Matthew Bourne and Francesca Zambello. Guys doing conventional pap like 13 don't have a leg to stand on.

Blasted out of the theater

Yesterday I mentioned that I was about to go see Sarah Kane's Blasted at Soho Rep. Thanks to a box-office snafu, however, I couldn't get actually get in. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I was able to reschedule, and the other good news is that Blasted is the cult hit of the fall. It was thrilling to see a half-block-long line of people waiting for cancellations for this completely harrowing show. Especially compared to the hyped-but-tired CMJ music festival happening at the same time. We may despair of its state at times, but theater remains vital in this city.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Divas galore

My short review of the new Pink album and my interview with pop diva Róisín Murphy are up on the Time Out New York site. The latter is paired with Jimmy Draper's chat with Lady Gaga, making for a conceptual twofer piece, so do read both if you can, plus there's quite a few web goodies tucked at the end.

Murphy is playing her first NYC solo live show tomorrow and I'm psyched beyond belief. I have to get through Sarah Kane's reputedly harsh play Blasted beforehand (tonight I mean, not both the same evening), but the contrast should be invigorating, to say the least.

Broaden your mind

This post on popular lesbian site After Ellen really riled me. The author wonders if dudes can write lesbian comic-book characters as complex as those created by lesbians. Jeezus, why are we still having this debate?!?

First of all, Love & Rockets' Hopey, created by Jaime Hernandez, is a character with as much depth and shades as any I can think of in contemporary fiction. Setting Hernandez up against Alison Bechdel or Paige Braddock is creating a strawman.

Second, following this line of inquiry, should we infer that gay and lesbian authors can't create good straight characters? The arts would be in a sorry state if people only wrote about what they personally know. I find this prospect utterly depressing.

And third, let's expand this reasoning to acting. Should gay characters be played by gay actors? (Think of the hoopla as to which of the L Word actresses actually are gay.) Does it ring false when Cherry Jones play a straight woman? Give me a break!

The shackles of mimesis

Already a follow-up on this morning's post, which included a bit about Simon McBurney's staging of All My Sons on Broadway. I should have mentioned that McBurney is a Brit whose company, Complicite, has created such shows as The Street of Crocodiles, The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol and Mnemonic. (Complicite's site mentions that it's currently developing a play with Jonathan Safran Foer.)

Which then led me to belatedly remember this Guardian blog post about stage directing, with which I completely agree. Especially this bit:
"Mainstream Anglo-American theatre tradition remains so absolutely married to the idea of literal-minded mimesis that there is virtually no hint that anything but the text can invent meaning on stage beyond dumb representation."
And this one (if the author thinks realism is overused in England, he should check the US, which is even worse):
"Here's hoping that in a couple of years time, alongside the brilliant realism that the British do so well, we're seeing mould-breaking texts from new writers being staged radically by directors who have cast off the shackles of mimesis and are putting on stage performers who create meaning rather than simply actors who 'look right for the part'."
Casting off the shackles of mimesis! Brilliant!

Go Wiest

Dianne Wiest is the kind of actress I can't live without. I'd trade all the Angelinas and Charlizes of this world for her. It's so easy to take Wiest for granted, and yet I can't remember her giving a bad performance. And she's had plenty of great ones. She can be seen in two mighty fine roles right now: as the mother in the revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons and in Charlie Kaufman's new movie, Synecdoche, New York (out on Friday).

The film part is typical screen Wiest: It's small but she makes an indelible impression, particularly when she begins playing Philip Seymour Hoffman. The film is uneven and gets stuck in its own loop deloop two thirds of the way in, but it also offers the unique combination of morbidity and romance that characterizes Kaufman for me. Plus it boasts a gallery of fantastic thespianesses (gimme a break, I know the word doesn't exist): Catherine Keener, Hope Davis, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, and even Elizabeth Marvel in a cameo. Plus plus, Kaufman actually makes one of my fantasies come true: at one point Jennifer Jason Leigh pops up with a German accent and Philip Seymour Hoffman, enraged, jumps at her throat—something I myself have often wanted to do to JJL's characters.

As for All My Sons, directed by Simon McBurney, I know it's early in the season but it might be the best surprise of the Broadway year, and Wiest is heartbreaking as a woman who has to come to terms with her delusions.

Of the production as a whole, I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague Adam Feldman's enthusiastic review, and particularly his assessment that "The explicit theatricality of McBurney’s staging minimizes the play’s flaws while deepening its impact." McBurney has done an amazing job and every second reminds us of what we're not getting from the hacks who crowd our local institutions, both for profit and non-. Just one example among many: From my vantage point in the first row of the mezzanine, I could see that the director had built every scene around clear diagonals, aligning the characters and the few elements of the barebone set along invisible—but still powerfully delineating—lines. It gave the production a neat coherence that also suggested the ties binding the characters not only to each other but to their surroundings and even their past. The show is well worth hunting tickets for.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Da bomb

The best element about Doctor Atomic may well be its title, which instantly suggests an action-packed, DC Comics–style caper. But John Adams and Peter Sellars's opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb, which I saw at the Met last night, has got to be one of the most…tepid things I've seen in a long time. I didn't think it was possible to suck all the tension and action from the atomic fricking bomb, but they did it.

Sellars's heavy-handed libretto bears a lot of the blame: "adapted from original sources," it is way too verbose, way too literal, and made me long for baroque's elliptical repetitiveness. The singers have to deliver thankless clunky lines and the music, which mostly sticks to a kind of banal beige hum, doesn't help. (Also, okay, I'm far from an expert, but at times it reminded me of Bernard Herrmann, of all people, particularly his score for North by Northwest toward the end of the first act. Weird.)

Despite a few good visual ideas, like the opening hive of scientists working in isolated cells like so many worker bees—for which we have to thank set designer Julian Crouch, already responsible for Satyagraha—Penny Woolcock's staging remains hopelessly static. When a literally electric scene comes along (a storm threatens a bomb test), there isn't enough juice onstage to short-circuit a toaster.

No one in our party of four liked the opera or the production. Here's what my buddy Tristan had to say this morning:
Instead of gaining momentum, the second act went slower and slower. There were no new musical ideas. A hundred people came on stage to watch the bomb go off…and then stood there motionless for 15 minutes, staring at the audience. That was the climactic final stage business. Made Robert Wilson look like Busby Berkeley. There was also some half-hearted fog. The meteorologist sang an entire weather report—I am not kidding. "The wind/Is out of the southwest/At three to six miles per hour/Up to 500 feet." There was a ticking noise and a rumbling noise. The sheets rose up into the air, slowly, revealing…just some more debris.
In other words, the whole thing, in so many ways, failed to detonate. It was, in fact, metaphorically, the fizzle which the scientists had feared when they tested the bomb. But perhaps that's the point. If the bomb had been as badly designed and built as the opera about it was, perhaps we would have a more peaceful world today. If only Oppenheimer & Co. hadn't been so brilliant! If only they had been more like John Adams and his colleagues!
Yow! Tell it like it is! (Tristan also tipped me off to composer Mark Adamo's insightful take on Doctor Atomic.)

On the plus side: There were clips of Robert Lepage's forthcoming La Damnation de Faust playing in the Met's lobby and that production looks ka-razy! Really, really looking forward to it. Which could be famous last words since I was also really, really looking forward to Doctor Atomic. And I once wrote that 30 Rock sucks. And I thought John Kerry could be elected in 2004.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Girls girls girls

It has been a faboo week for awesome babes.

First, Karita Mattila as the titular sex-crazed vamp and would-be exotic dancer in Richard Strauss's Salome at the Met. Hottt! I was lucky to be close enough to see the work that goes into a performance like this one (the opera starts at a fever pitch and unrelentingly stays there for all of its 100 minutes, and Salome is in every single scene, even when not actually singing). When she took her curtain call, Mattila was visibly drained, heavily breathing as she was trying to come back down to 2008 New York.

The next day I saw Paula West and the George Mesterhazy Quartet at the Oak Room. West is my favorite interpreter of jazz, pop and Great American Songbook standards right now: Nobody gets even close. It's that simple. The set cannily mixed obscure selections and well-known chestnuts, but she breathed new life even in songs I've heard a gazillion times and thought I could do without at this point (Mersterhazy's slinky arrangement of Rodgers & Hart's "I Wish I Were in Love Again" was particularly inspired). West finished her set with a glorious version of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." It was lump-in-throat time.

Then I belatedly caught up with the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy, which throws some of my fave actresses (all seen on the New York stage too, thank you very much) into a hot mess of medically flavored soap-opera shenanigans: What other show on TV has Sandra Oh, Chandra Wilson, Sara Ramirez and Brooke Smith? I can even deal with Katherine Heigl and Ellen "meh" Pompeo doesn't overly bug me. Plus Ramirez and Smith's characters are becoming entangled in a lesbionic relationship, so it's all gravy. That is, until Shonda Rhimes messes with them, ’cause that's just the way things roll on Grey. All in due time ladies, all in due time.

Even more belatedly I discovered Little Jackie's debut album, The Stoop, which is my default music for pretty much everything right now: at the gym, on the way to the office in the morning, back from the office at night, walking hideous Tenth Avenue to get coffee. Imani Coppola completely gets living in New York—particularly Brooklyn—in 2008 in a way that reminds me of how Lily Allen gets living in London.

Little Jackie "LOL" (from The Stoop, 2008)

Friday, October 17, 2008

The drought is about to end

This is completely lame of me but here's another reference for work on another site. This time I'm going on about image in pop and rock (one of my obsessions, as you may have noticed) over at SundayArts.

Some family members have been visiting from France for the past ten days, hence the lack of updates. It's not that things have stopped in their tracks—I did find the time to revisit Salome at the Met and I'm about to go see the wonderful Paula West at the Oak Room—but it's hard to find the time to live and hold a job and go out and blog. Oh dammit to hell, why can't a day have 36 hours?!?

I hope to resume normal programming on Monday.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Azur & Asmar

I have to admit I wasn't expecting much from Michel Ocelot's new film, Azur & Asmar, but I was completely enchanted. This is the closest you can get to Hayao Miyazaki without it being from Hayao Miyazaki, particularly with the character of the spunky princess. My review is in the new Time Out New York.

Summer Heights High is coming

I spent the past weekend indulging in the very Yankee tradition known as leaf-peeping, and will blog about my upstate discoveries when my schedule eases up a bit. Spoiler warning: Nature is beautiful and soothing, and there's a lot of people growing squash in the Finger Lakes region.

In the meantime, here's a link to my New York Times piece about the Australian TV series Summer Heights High, which is going to premiere on HBO in November.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Vote for the MFA President

This week in Time Out New York, we concocted, if I may say so myself, a nifty little survey of the financial clusterfuck's impact on the local arts scene. I did the dance and classical entries myself, and in the process got to talk to quite a few of the cool people who make this town move. Well, perhaps it would be more accurate to say the people who make those who move move. Ayee, I seem to have entangled myself into an Escher kind of a sentence here.

One of the things that really struck me—and it should strike you as well if, as I hope, you follow those links—is that arts organizations and artists themselves are phenomenally resilient and resourceful. They stretch dollars to the limit, do a lot with little, and make the most of actual resources without making nutty plans based on thin air.

Just look at the sheer number of arts institutions, from Carnegie Hall to La MaMa, from BAM to Danspace—that manages to endure in New York—and we're talking decades here. And where is that longevity on Wall Street or in the so-called business community? They're supposed to be all about the bottom line, and they've proven completely clueless.

George W. Bush notoriously was our first "MBA President." Considering the mess he put us in, we should send an MFA President to the White House.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Beatrice Dalle forever

Upon the release of her latest movie, New Wave (made for the ARTE channel), the French weekly arts mag Les Inrockuptibles recently ran a great Q&A with Béatrice Dalle, one of my favorite actresses. When Dalle burst onto the French film scene with Betty Blue in 1986, she felt like an untameable force of nature. And she hasn't calmed down since, remaining an idiosyncratic presence both on and off screen. She brings a nuclear intensity to everything she does, making an impression in the shortest scenes, even doing next to nothing—few have her ability to be magnetic just being there. Check out this scene from Christophe Honoré's first feature, 17 fois Cécile Cassard, where she dances with Romain Duris then just smokes by herself. (By the way, it's pretty insulting that YouTube feels the need to post a disclaimer that the video may be insuitable for minors considering that it's completely chaste, so the only red flag has got to be the fact that two men slow-dance together.) And then there are berserk starring roles in berserk movies, like Claire Denis's Trouble Every Day and the recent horror flick A l'intérieur, in which she plays a psychopath trying to steal a baby—while it's still in the womb. (Can I just say how good these trailers are, especially compared to American ones? None of that Moviefone-guy voiceover crap, and they don't give away the entire plot either.)

Plus whereas most French actors are happy to lead completely boring lives, Dalle lives. She was with rapper Joey Starr, from NTM, for ten years or something, has been arrested for shoplifting and cocaine possession, is now married to an inmate she met while volunteering in prisons. This carefree attitude leads to her giving fantastic interviews. Here she is on a French talk show, for instance, ostensibly to plug A l'intérieur.

Some choice quotes from the aforementioned interview in Les Inrockuptibles:

Q: You play an incestuous mother in New Wave. Was it difficult?
A: She wasn't very far from me. Well, you understand her when you look at the kid—he's too cute (laughs). The scene I enjoyed shooting most actually was the most dramatic of the movie. But it was much easier for me to play than the scene where I make crepes. I've never done that in my life, or ever put anything on a plate! I think I'd be more comfortable doing a gang-bang scene!

Q: Do you think you're typecast in dramatic parts?
A: Yeah, but that's all I'd like to do. Besides, ever since making A l'interieur, I really want gore and special effects. I'd love to play an elf but they don't think of me for those parts. I'm tired of going to family-planning offices, to play realistic or social roles!

Q: Were you new wave in the 80s?
A: New wave, me? Don't insult me! I hung out with punks.

Q: Do you follow the American presidential campaign?
A: It's not my country but I still have to put up with them. It's really going to suck if this McCain is elected. Especially since he pulled out his joker with Sarah Palin. She's a devil this one: She's got overly tailored suits, a son in the army, the works! She even put Obama on the defensive by saying he's not proud of his country. Asked about her, Obama said, "Yeah, I'm not sure." He wasn't asked if he screwed her but what he thinks about her. He was like a kid who just got spanked.

Meaning well is boring

I have a new post over on the SundayArts blog, hosted by Channel Thirteen. This time it's about political art and why the vast majority of it is so goddamn lame. In short, good intentions hardly ever make good art. Discuss.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Welcome to the lazy comet

I'm totally psyched that my pal Mike Wolf has finally started a blog, Lazy Comet. I've always been envious of Mike's writing skills, and when he casually whips out sentences like "you can tell Ms. Low Bar is sustaining just enough hull-integrity that the conservative blowhardati and other Kool-Aid salesmen will try and declare a draw" (about last night's VP debate), well, I just hope this comet won't be too lazy and cross our skies frequently.

Check out his review of the new Dead C album in this week's Village Voice as well: It boasts the best first sentence I've seen in a long time.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

We can't spend our way out of this one

Having stained my T-shirt on the way to work (don't ask), I had to make an emergency pit stop at the Gap. Sales galore! The things I consume the most are cultural products so I don't find myself in stores very often, and when there I tend to buy several things not because I like purchasing stuff but so I won't have to shop again for a while.

Anyway, I seemed to be the only New Yorker at the Herald Square Gap this morning—thank god for tourists, busy propping up our local economy. The last time the stock exchange took a major dive in New York was after 9/11. Back then, we were told that the best way to fight terrorism was to act as if nothing had happened and shop shop shop. Healing through consumption, that's the American way.

But this time around, who's going to buy anything? This is a crisis that we can't credit-card our way out of.