Thursday, June 30, 2005

Annie @ Scenic

AnnieScenic1

Last night I went to see my favorite Norwegian pop singer (with whom I'm kind of smitten) play at Scenic, the 'new' East Village venue (formerly Guernica and Save the Robots). Some bloggers have been critical of her vocal ability in a live setting, but I went in with an open mind.

The doors opened late, so Roomate Deborah and I stayed upstairs long enough to get a drink before heading down to the actual concert venue. The DJs spun long and good while we waited for Annie to come out.

Best preshow conversation:
Me: Are there really this many blondes in New York, or did the Norwegian consulate send out a memo?
Deb: All the girls are blonde and all the guys are not... its all
dark-haired Indie boys and blonde women
Me: Sounds like a match made in heaven
Deb: For you!

Annie came out (with a glass of wine!) around midnight.

Oh, Before I forget: Brooklyn Vegan has some nice photos. [I stole one of his for the image above.]

I've totally forgotten what order the songs were played in. She played 2 new songs, "Kiss Me" and "Wedding Song" (well, I hadn't heard them before; Wedding Song is definitely new, Kiss Me might be old). She played a bunch of the songs from the album - Chewing Gum, Heartbeat, Fool for Love, Me Plus One (which she's only played live a few times), others I can't recall at the moment. Annie does this thing when she performs where she points into the audience, matching it with the direct-address of her songs. I was dead center in front of her for the beginning of the set, and all through the first two songs she would point right at me, eye contact and all. As the show went on she started pointing in other directions as well. I enjoyed those first two songs best.

Her singing voice, while not spectacular, was fine, and her DJ was very good. Annie's stage presence, though, isn't there yet. She seemed a bit nervous or shy singing in front of the crowd (in a venue of only 150). She looked a little more self-conscious when she could see a camera pointed at her. Also, Annie had to keep adjusting her dress to keep it from slipping down.

I think we expect pop stars to be flawless in front of our gaze, to exist mainly as spectacle for our benefit. Their performance should appear effortless, and Annie is clearly working at it. She's not someone who needs to be looked at; she seems more like the rest of us, a little shy when being photographed or in front of a big group of people. Still, her performance is good because the material is so good, and I would definitely go see her again.

I wondered going in if in a year she'd be Kylie big or still be playing clubs like Scenic and Hiro. I think probably the latter, because of her performance's lacks, but it'd be great to see her take off in the US.

She didn't play an encore, and I didn't get to hang out with her after the show.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Top 5 Top '05

The Davelus Top 5 (Albums) from the Top Half of '05:

1. Annie - Anniemal
2. Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
3. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
4. MIA - Arular
5. LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem

In the 'I lovelovelove what I've heard but I haven't heard it all the way through' category [all soon to be remedied courtesy of Insound]:
Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock and Roll
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

Social Schedule Update

So as of now I'm 50/50 for the Annie show tonight at Hiro
I have tickets to tomorrow's show at Scenic (including possibly an extra, if anyone's interested)
and I'm likely to see My Favorite (with Favorite Sons, and some others) at Rothko on Thursday
though there's an outside chance I'll end up at a Mets game instead.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Off The Grid

6929_1
John Twelve Hawks is an author. His new book The Traveler is about to come out, and the marketing blitz will be huge. Like, DaVinci Code huge. Because Doubleday thinks this book could be as big a success.
As it turns out, Janet Maslin likes it. A lot. Which is saying something, especially for a Sci-Fi novel.
But the goodness of the book (which I can't speak about, having not read it) isn't even what interests me about JTH. He claims to live "Off the Grid" - from a different NYTimes article:

Mr. Twelve Hawks, like two of the central characters in "The Traveler," is said to live "Off the Grid," which, according to the book's jacket, is to exist "invisible to the real-life surveillance networks that monitor people in our modern society."

His agent, Joe Regal, said Mr. Twelve Hawks uses an untraceable phone and a voice filter to communicate. "As far as I know, I've never heard his real voice," Mr. Regal said. Because of his concerns about privacy, Mr. Twelve Hawks has refused to make himself known or do interviews to publicize his book - and that could help spur more interest.


It's piqued my interest. Not so much in the book (though also in that) as in the extreme efforts required to go 'Off the Grid.' I've been interested in it since Terminator 2 espoused the virtues of the OTG life (especially if you and/or your son is humankind's only hope in the war against the machines). Obviously there's a Phillip K. Dick level of paranoia (healthy suspicion?) of the technological world that informs any decision to go OTG. But in the age of total surveillance, there'a a potentially huge downside to staying 'on the grid.' Most of us, in our everyday lives, don't transgress the right boundaries to endanger ourselves through the everyday breaches of our privacy to which we (willingly? knowingly?) submit. [In London you are captured on video appx 300 times per day... estimates vary but I'd bet New York isn't far off].

But what makes you go OTG? Why abandon what most people willingly adopt as the conveniences of modern life and keep your identity secret and definitively analog?
Is there a logic to the paranoia?


Other notes:

The Annie show at Scenic on Wednesday is sold out. I'm still working on scoring a ticket or two; not sure if that's gonna happen... [if youve got one let me know]

These guys like to disrupt local news.

PS - I forgot to mention Saturday's Stars / New Pornographers concert in Prospect Park. It was good. The 5 or 10 other thousand people there pretty much agreed.

Exclusive???

x-news-gangoffour
This morning Pitchfork posted a news item entitled "Exclusive: Gang of Four to Re-Record Classics for New LP". Which is funny, because you heard about it right here over a month ago.

[OK, so the release date is updated on Pitchfork...]

Friday, June 24, 2005

the Upstart vs. the Grey Eminence

NOTE: This is long and boring. Feel free to skip if Iranian electoral politics aren't your thing.

ahmadenejad

vs.

rafsanjani

Today I saw that the Iranian election is now narrowed down to a runoff between the top two candidates. Originally there were 8, all hard-line Islamist males (no surprise there). The two runoff candidates are Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who used to be President of Iran, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who's currently the mayor of Tehran. Mr. Rafsanjani is known as a more liberal-minded reformer (as Iranian politicans go), who supports increased social freedoms and privatization and is open to a more positive relationship with the United States. Mr. Ahmadinejad is a conservative defined by his belief in the strategies and ideals of the 1979 revolution. He seeks a more centrally planned economy, a more adversarial relationship with the enemies of Iran (i.e. Israel and the U.S.), and more than likely a rollback (or at least a freeze) on social freedoms.

All this got me thinking about the credentials and history of all the candidates, and what their views might have meant for Iran, the greater Arab world, and the global political climate. So I did a bit of research and discovered that...
almost without exception, the candidates have strong links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or to international terrorism.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is the 'ideological army' of the regime. They function at times like a secret police, but their presence is rarely secret. They suppress dissidents and enforce ideological purity (according to the Iranian government's fundamentalist twist on Islam).

Here's some highlights from Ahmadinejad's profile:

Ahmadinejad was a top commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Following the 1979 Islamic revolution he joined an ultra-conservative faction of the Office for Strengthening Unity. Ahmadinejad’s activities in the Revolutionary Guards were directly related to suppression of dissidents in Iran and terrorist attacks abroad. A recently revealed document has shown his involvement in planning an attempt on the life of the Indian-born British author Salman Rushdie. He is presently a member of the right-wing Association of Engineers and a member of the central council of the Society of the Devotees of the Islamic Revolution. As mayor of Tehran, he moved to restrict activities in cultural centres in the capital, turning them into religious centres.

In his own Words:

"We did not have a revolution in order to have democracy".
(United International Press, May 24, 2005)


and Rafsanjani:

After the revolution he became a member of the Revolutionary Council; after a short spell as Interior Minister, he became Majlis (parliament) Speaker in 1980. Khomeini gave Rafsanjani much greater powers than his official position allowed. He was made the acting Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and, according to insiders, no important policy decision was made without his approval. After Khomeini’s death in 1989, Rafsanjani became President for two terms. Since then he has chaired the powerful State Expediency Council, which acts as a supreme arbitration body to settle disputes between the Majlis and the watchdog Guardians Council.

The criminal court of Berlin issued an international warrant for Rafsanjani’s arrest after he was found to be a key member of a four-man committee that made the decisions for assassination of Iranian dissidents abroad. Rafsanjani’s past is heavily tainted with involvement in international terrorism; as President he personally oversaw much of the activities of VEVAK, Iran’s dreaded secret police, and dozens of terrorist attacks abroad were carried out under his command, including the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, which killed 19 U.S. servicemen, and the bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994. More than 80 people died in that attack.

Rafsanjani is widely seen as the father of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The initial phase of the program in the early 1980s was carried out under his supervision as the acting Commander in Chief. The greatest advancements in the nuclear project, from uranium enrichment technology to plutonium extraction methods, were made under his direction (as Commander in Chief, and later as President).

Described as a pragmatic conservative abroad, inside Iran Rafsanjani is best known by two distinguishing traits; the first being his mass fortune, as compared to the disastrous economy he left after his tenure. Parallel to this is his willingness to use extreme force to quell dissent and his role in the chain murders of dissidents who dared to voice their opposition to the current theocratic system. His role in these killings earned him the nickname “The Grey Eminence” after a book by jailed journalist Akbar Ganji.

During Rafsanjani’s presidency hundreds of writers, journalists, and other intellectuals were imprisoned, murdered, or simply “disappeared”.

Rafsanjani on terrorism:
"If in retaliation for every Palestinian martyred in Palestine they kill and execute, not inside Palestine, five Americans, or Britons or Frenchmen [the Israelis] would not continue these wrongs.
"It is not difficult to kill Americans or Frenchmen. It is a bit difficult to kill [Israelis]. But there are so many [Americans and Frenchmen] everywhere in the world".
(Speaking at a Friday prayers congregation on May 5, 1989)


The other candidates weren't much better. There were lots of links to violent repression of dissidents, anti-Semitic propaganda, and the planning and execution of Iranian state-sponsored terrorism abroad (one defeated candidate was directly involved in the planning and execution of the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines compound in Beirut, which left behind 242 dead, and the bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed 86 - in coordination with Mr. Rafsanjani).
Of the 8 candidates 5 were formerly top Revolutionary Guards officials (including Mr. Ahmadinejad).

Good information on the candidates (defeated and still running) is available at Iran Focus, from where I stole lots of the above text.


Also:
Good News?
Italian Judge Orders Arrest of 13 CIA Operatives for Kidnapping
That question mark is a biggie.


and:
This Just In: Tom Cruise is Insane
Cruise Clashes With Lauer on 'Today' Show

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Supreme Court decided today that the government can just seize your property and give it to another private party if the resulting projects serve the public good.

I have some time now to post preliminary thoughts, but I likely won't finish since I have a show on the air tonight that I'm Tape ADing. I'll try to finish my reflections tomorrow afternoon.

Sandra Day O'Connor's dissenting opinion included the following gems:
"The specter of condemnation hangs over all property," she wrote. "Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.
"As for the victims," Justice O'Connor went on, "the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result."

Which seems pretty obvious to me.

As much as I hate to play this card, I can't think of anything more anti-American than the seizure of private property by the state for the expressed purpose of giving that property to another private party. The majority idea is that since it's for the community good it is acceptable, but this decision is antithetical to the individual right to property that is perhaps American law's fundamental assumption. As much as I hate to agree with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, they do respect individual rights above the interest of the community (see: their views on corporate behavior, the environment, etc).

Most of my thoughts are little more than extended thoughts on the nuances of the O'Connor excerpt above.

Here's a start:
The state can't seize property strictly for the good of the receiving party, but the loosely-defined 'public good' could easily include the increased tax-revenues from a commerical enterprise. Which is to say, my house is infinitely less valuable than moving in, say, some sleazy corporate owner on the same property, and as a result the government can just kick me off and install whatever owner they desire... the definition of 'public good' being determined not by the public being evicted, but by the parties who select the new owners. Isn't that inherently a conflict of interest? That's without accounting for the influence of money in politics (which, Freakonomics aside, has a much more direct influence on a local scale than on a national one, and a much bigger influence in terms of governmental action as opposed to electability).

I'm out of time... lots of show to prep... but here's one more worthwhile tidbit I discovered today:
Douglas Wolk has a great piece in The Believer on the brilliance of The Fall's Peel Sessions [all now available on The Complete Peel Sessions 1978–2004], with a special focusss-ah on Mark E. Smith's ramshackle lyrical surrealismmmm-uh.

enjoy-uh.

Monday, June 20, 2005

the horrible truth about television

so...

I've been shooting a few messages back and forth with the guys from Mission of Burma recently, and Clint Conley pretty much invited me to come back to Boston and work with him at his day job: "Dave, if y'r into cows and codgers and would like a masssive paycut, come on up--"

omfgfgfg
I'm staying where I am but it's the principle of the thing and wow. Wow.
except for Burma and a few others (Soltero, maybe Bishop Allen) the band dropoff would be huge, but the iconic postpunk boss factor would go up significantly, so there's that.

Clint - if you want me to take this down, just gimme the word.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Annie US gigs

Annie_40_bestivaldj
Annie Spinning (wearing a DFA 1979 shirt!)

Somehow this got lost in the shuffle of the recent few weeks of craziness:

Annie is playing a bunch of American shows (both DJing and singing) in the US in late June / early July. Timo Kaukolampi will also be spinning. The NYC Shows are:

06/28 - Hiro Ballroom, New York, NY
06/29 - Scenic, New York, NY

[Update: Scenic tix available here]

And from there:
06/30 - Sonotheque, Chicago, IL
07/01 - Mighty, San Francisco, CA
07/02 - tba, Los Angeles, CA
07/03 - Standard Downtown Rooftop, Los Angeles, CA
07/05 - Cinespace, Los Angeles, CA

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Pagoda

Last night I went to see Michael Pitt's band Pagoda at Pianos with JFro. Neither one of us had heard much of Pagoda but knew Michael's music from movies he's been in, so we were both excited. We got there early to catch up, since I hadn't seen him since he got back from Paris.

A bit after 9 Michael took the stage without the rest of the band. For some reason he was playing solo that night. We were both really impressed. He played just one song with a bassist in the middle of the set - the rest was him singing and playing guitar. His music obviously draws a bit on Nirvana - a too-easy comparison in light of his recent role in Last Days - but is not a Nirvana ripoff by any stretch. Really what Pitt's music shares with Kurt's is a sense of woundedness, a vulnerability willing to expose itself without fear. It makes sense, since one of the best things about he brings to on-camera performance is a sense of vulnerable openness.

I talked to Michael and to his girlfriend Jamie for a bit after the show. Jamie is also a musician here in New York; she and Michael live in Brooklyn. Next Wednesday the full band will be playing (again at Pianos); Michael asked me to come by, and I think I probably will. Michael is one of the very coolest people I (don't) know, someone who's had the chance to work with (and/or befriend) Bertolucci, Eva Green, Asia Argento, JT Leroy, John Cameron Mitchell, and Gus van Sant. I love his movie choices and his quest for artistic authenticity in whatever medium he works in. It's exciting to think there are (more) people like that working in movies. Jamie was really cool and friendly, and I'd like to hear what her work is like. I know she plays solo around the city and that she's looking to put together a band. I walked away from the show with a CD of some Pagoda demo recordings, which I like a lot. I wish I had pictures of the show, but neither Jon or I had a camera. The Modern Age has some photos from their show on June 1st. Also, The Fader has a great photo of James Murphy with Jamie and Michael and 2 people I don't know (that's Jamie to Michael's right).

Next week Pagoda is playing (again at Pianos) with Saints and Lovers and a "VERY Special Guest," and the tix are $18. I haven't found out who the VERY Special Guest will be, but I may go just to find out. And Saints and Lovers is obviously terrific, so maybe I'd be going anyway.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Post-Jones Beach

Whether you're going this evening or not, this looks to be a good way to spend your night...

mahsainterpolafter

I'm sure I'll be there even though my not-yet-healed ankle may hinder dancing (don't ask).

I'm pretty much obsessed with tracking down a copy of Diplo's _Live in Montreal_, since his remix of 'Maps' is un-be-fucking-lievable.

In other news... the JFro NYC '05 Pt. 1 Party is on the horizon... details to follow (eventually) [Update: Pt. 1 has been cancelled. Pt. 2 will take place in July.]

that new Killers song All the Pretty Faces is really nice. (From June 7 show, courtesy of Ultragrrrl)

and Au Hasard Balthazar is out on DVD

Monday, June 13, 2005

Free the Mondo Kim's Five

NYC Record Store Mondo Kim's Raided by RIAA

So apparently the RIAA is busting record store clerks for selling hip-hop DJ mixes.

"What I'm told actually brought them down," said a source at Other Music, "was that there was a CD DJ mix that a guy from Sony saw in the store, and it had a bunch of big-time Sony hip-hop artists on it. So he alerted the feds, and they showed up and arrested a bunch of clerks-- not anyone who does any actual bootlegging."

I wonder how 50 Cent and Eminem and the countless other major label rap stars who came up through mix tapes feel about this.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Of Late / Stupid and Shallow

So, on the recommendation of a guy who runs a record label in town I finally checked out Section 25 recently. oh wow. did Factory Records ever put out anything that wasn't spectacular?

I've also been diving into more classic French pop of late, especially Jacques Dutronc. He's the perfect pop chansonniste, a Gainsbourg without the sleaze (though that's the best thing about Gainsbourg). Arrogant, insouciant, playful, Breathless as a 3 minute pop song.

... and continuing my love affairs with Art Brut, Antony, and Annie.

On Thursday night I saw the French film Love Me If You Dare (Jeux d'enfants). I was expecting to really like it. I didn't. It tried waaay too hard. It's moments were overpunctuated, it's visual style overwrought, it's potential cuteness overplayed. It made me think of those reviewers who didn't like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, perhaps because those reviews are where I learned the word 'cloying.' Marion Cotillard, though, was terrific as Sophie. I know she's already a star in France but I've added her to the list of foreign actresses I'd like to 'break' in the States (her role in Big Fish notwithstanding). She's a talented, commanding screen presence, and was the most watchable element of the movie for me (though I'm a sucker for French actresses). I'll certainly remember her, even as I try to forget Yann Samuell's squandered opportunity for a good film.

Later Thursday night I had a series of dreams including a section where Ultragrrrl had a TV show. She was interviewing Larry King.

The recent comments on Ultra's site have me thinking a lot about the relationship between celebrity and envy. She's of course only a peripheral celeb at best, but people can post comments on her blog and she somehow inspires lots of people to say negative things about her. I've been trying to figure out why people would say negative things about her in that venue - if you don't like Sarah why are you reading her blog? It might be because they can actually access her. If the negativos think the Killers are sellouts, they've got no place to tell Brandon about it. But when Sarah says or does something that deep down they wish they could be doing, the haters attack. I don't know how thick her skin is but I hope that it doesn't get to her, because their envy is stupid and shallow. She's lucky enough to be able to make her way in the world doing things she loves, and I've no idea why that should inspire criticism.
Some of it may be fueled by the difference people see between creative production and the mechanisms of distribution. While the vectors of distribution have created problematic cultural/socioeconomic conditions [see A Hacker Manifesto], the micro-distributor is admirable for the risk they take to bring new culture to the masses. And that's the role Sarah has chosen, being a transition point between the music-creators and the music-consumers (through her blog, dj gigs, writing, and the record label). Good for her.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Pitts

Brad Pitt is awesome. Last night ABC aired his interview with Diane Sawyer, and they spent half of the show in Africa, in a village in Ethiopia where Brad was checking up on families he had grown close to on his last visit. He's always struck me as intelligent and is drawn to interesting roles in movies with a smart sense of humor. [Actually, I can't think of a single bad Brad Pitt movie.] But what most impressed me was his incredible social conscience and his sense of hope. He's supporting The One Campaign, and so should you.

Michael Pitt's band Pagoda is playing tonight at Pianos. As is Downtown. Just a reminder.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Futureheads acoustic / various music news

Last night I went to the acoustic Futureheads show upstairs at Pianos. It was a pretty well amplified set for an acoustic set; they played most of my fave songs off the album and also Dorian Grey, which was kind of a highlight. Not as much of a highlight as everyone's favorite Kate Bush cover, but great nonetheless. Actually, both Ben Simington and one member of Architecture in Helsinki have lamented that the Futureheads took their genius idea of which Kate Bush song to cover. As it stands, AiH apparently has a backup plan ("Army Dreamers"), while Ben has been pushing his version of "Hounds of Love" in weirder directions (or so I hear). I don't have any pictures from the show but I'm sure they're around. A (gorgeous) girl in front of me in a yellow t-shirt seemed to get a lot of good shots, including some pictures of her with the lads in the band; if I find those I promise a link. All The Young Mod Soldiers posted the setlist.

Other news:
The Shout Out Louds and Fox & Wolf are playing at the Tribeca Grand this Friday. Word is this show is acoustic, too. You should totally go. RSVP to rsvp@svenskapop.com.

Also, Prefix has put up a pretty comprehensive list of this summer's free NYC shows.


P.S. - No I wasn't at MisShapes this weekend. Sorry to disappoint.

Friday, June 03, 2005

good genes / bad genes

Maybe you've noticed, but apparently Jews are really smart. [Well, Ashkenazim, anyway.] they also get lots of genetic disorders, though, so there's that.

Researchers Say Intelligence and Diseases May Be Linked in Ashkenazic Genes

interesting theory, but not definitive by any means. provocative, anyway.

Bang Bang Rock & Roll


Pitchfork likes Art Brut's Bang Bang Rock & Roll as much as I do. If you own a record label in the U.S. please put this out!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Is Pianos cool again?

You remember that movie The Dreamers?
Bertolucci's flawed-but-beautiful rehashing of the French New Wave?
The one with the hot people having sex?
Well last night one of them (Brooklynite Michael Pitt, also from Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Gus van Sant's new movie Last Days) played at Pianos with his band Pagoda
Pictures at The Modern Age
I think they're playing the next few Wednesdays as well, though I'm not sure
Pagoda MP3's available here

in other Pianos related news:
THE FUTUREHEADS are playing FOR FREE Monday June 6 @ 6pm (though I've also seen 6:30) in the upstairs lounge,
before their show at Webster Hall. To get tix you've got to go to a Swatch store and pick them up.
Tickets are first come first serve (apparently)

Swatch stores in New York:
Times Square / 72nd & Columbus / Soho / Noho