Monday, September 29, 2008

And the winner of the least-surprising headline of the day is...
Dexy's Midnight Runners Bassist Broke

Friday, September 26, 2008

A co-worker (female, early 20s) commutes to NYC from Connecticut each day. On Wednesday night she had bought a sandwich at Primo Cappuccino in Penn Station and took it with her on her train. Before the train had left the station, she unwrapped the sandwich and ripped it in half, only to find a dead cockroach inside. A middle-aged man sitting next to her noticed that she'd become visibly upset and insisted that the two of them go back to Primo Cappuccino to complain. So they got off the train and showed the evidence to the Primo employees, who denied any responsibility, saying that the food arrives pre-prepared from a distributor. At first they refused to give her money back, but after a solid argument from the middle-aged man, they offered a refund and gave the phone number for the distributor's headquarters.
What surprises me most about this story is not that she found a cockroach in food purchased at Penn Station, or that she encountered surly employees, but that a man volunteered to miss his train home and wait 45 minutes for the next one to help a total stranger get $4 back, simply out of the kindness of his heart. I know I never would have made such an offer, and I would guess that such a response would not even occur to 99 out of 100 people. Good to know there are still kind people in NYC. I guess they live in Connecticut.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The other day, Miami Arena was blown to bits. That's the building where I saw my very first concert: Billy Joel on his Storm Front Tour. I also saw R.E.M. there. And Elton John. And Tom Petty, in 2nd-row seats I had won through VH1 (I remember asking my sister "What's that funny smell?"). I had courtside seats to a Heat vs. Bulls game and got to pass a ball that landed in my lap to Michael Jordan. I went to the inaugural Florida Panthers home game. But it was a shitty venue in a shitty part of Miami, and it had been rendered obsolete in 2000 by the nearby American Airlines Arena, much as it had rendered the Hollywood Sportatorium (a legendarily bad venue with an amazing name) obsolete back in 1988. Still, it's kind of sad that a piece of my childhood is gone.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The new batch of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees were announced today, and only 1 of the 10 I recently posted about were included (good luck Metallica). I'll certainly not be buying any lotto tickets this week.

Things I learned Friday night while riding atop a touristy double-decker bus during a friend's birthday celebration:
- Brooklyn is "where the young people live"
- It is cheaper to rent an apartment on the Lower East Side than in Midtown
- Years ago, many LES people sold "fruit, vegetables, and pastry right in the street!"
- Tall people riding atop a double-decker bus are in serious danger of smacking their head on a streetlight if they are not careful
- Double-decker bus tour guides are well-versed not only in New York history, but also in high finance, and they are more than willing to offer financial advise free of charge
- Sections of Vinegar Hill in Brooklyn smell really, really bad
- The TLC song "Waterfalls" is still surprisingly popular among my acquaintances, although very few actually remember the lyrics
- It's really not as embarrassing for NYC residents to ride around in a double-decker bus as one might think... at least when booze is involved

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Overheard in New York
"... it was at 3:15 am. That's 3:15 in the morning! Who dies at 3:15 in the morning?"
- construction worker on W. 15th St.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Don't Like Mondays
What a sad way to start off the week...
- David Foster Wallace has committed suicide. I got turned on to Infinite Jest when I did a semester in Scotland during the spring of 2000 (he's much bigger in the UK than he is here), and I read every page and footnote of that book. It's a masterpiece. If you don't have time to devote to all 1,100 pages, at least read his breathtaking essay on Roger Federer. And also read this NY Times tribute to him, which is better than anything I could write about him.
- Pink Floyd keyboard player Richard Wright has passed away from cancer. So I guess there never will be a proper reunion.
- TRL will be going off the air November 15. I spent three years there, and it was my first real writing job. For all of the smack I've talked about it, I did really enjoy working there. The show may be past its prime, but it's still the end of an era.

On a positive note, apparently my K-Rock Your Rock playlist was voted the best of the week. They've rewarded me with "the respect he deserves." It's about time. If you voted for me, thank you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

With Metallica's new album coming out this week, I started wondering why they were not first-ballot inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Which got me thinking about the Hall, and how arbitrary it seems to be. So even though it was a major waste of time, here are 10 eligible artist I think should be inducted (in no specific order), based more on merit than on my actual taste:
1) Metallica: This is the "rock and roll" hall of fame, isn't it? And over the past 25 years, there have been few "rock and roll" bands to make as big an impact, both commercially and stylistically. They started as one of the "Big Four" of thrash metal, then evolved into heavy metal, and then just hard rock. They're one of the biggest bands in the world. They've sold almost 100 million albums worldwide. They've won 7 Grammys. Master of Puppets and their self-titled albums are considered classics. I think it's a pretty clear-cut case.
2) Janet Jackson: As far as R&B singers go, she may not pack the same punch as Aretha. But according to Billboard (via an unlinked Wikipedia note), she's the 9th-most-successful artist in rock and roll history (I find that kind of hard to believe). Despite her train-wreck moments, she did pave the way for Whitney, and later Mariah.
3) Weird Al Yankovic: Hear me out. The Hall should be honoring artists who revolutionized or defined their genres. As far as musical parody goes, nobody comes close to Weird Al.
4) The Cure: The godfathers of goth rock. And they're still releasing solid music and playing sold-out arenas around the world. They've had their lulls, but who hasn't?
5) Neil Diamond*: Sure, he may be a total ham, and his version of The Jazz Singer is a travesty, and I friggin' HATE when people yell "so good! so good! so good!" during the chorus of "Sweet Caroline." But his longevity and output are almost unmatched, and you can't deny how good his early material is. "Solitary Man"? "Cherry Cherry"? "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon"? Killer songs. Maybe his Rick Rubin-led revival will cause voters to give him a second look.
6) T-Rex: Again, this is about an artist that revolutionized a genre. They may not have been as successful as Bowie or Alice Cooper, but they ushered in the era of glam rock. Give them the same respect given to punk pioneers the Sex Pistols.
7) Genesis: I never understood how Traffic made the cut while Genesis didn't. Is it because Traffic disbanded while Genesis turned pop? I don't think that's fair. Genesis simply evolved with the times. Releasing another The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway instead of Invisible Touch in 1986 would've been a disaster. Plus the fact that they made the "Land of Confusion" video should gain them access in and of itself.
8) Heart: While I love their music, this pick is less about that and more about the fact that they are women. Sounds sexist, sure. But few women were able to break into the male-dominated rock world in the 70s, and I think that deserves some credit.
9) The Zombies: Here's where it gets a bit personal. Cause yeah, I've come to think of Odyssey and Oracle as the greatest album of all time. Their success was short-lived, and not very big commercially. But if the Dave Clark Five can get in without releasing anything that comes close to O&O, so should The Zombies.
10) Sonic Youth: Would the alternative movement have happened without them? I say no.

And here are 5 more that I wanted to put on the list, but just couldn't justify…
- Def Leppard
- Joan Jett
- The Smiths
- Willie Nelson
- Iggy Pop
Now feel free to rip me a new one.

* Note: I went to see Neil Diamond play at the Garden a few weeks ago*… I got (ridiculously good) seats through my seat-filler program. My friend and I were surrounded by about 16,000 of my parents, including an older woman who shushed us because she was "trying to listen to the music." I bet Neil could've had his way with any single woman in the arena that night. The show couldn't have been hokier, and it ranked up there with the funniest experiences of my life. But he certainly sounded great. And these days, he sort of looks like a cross between Billy Bob Thornton and Bob Dole.

* Note on the note: On my way home I was racing to catch the subway at Penn Station and got trapped behind an old couple lallygagging up the stairs. I managed to get around them and get my foot between the doors just as they began to close. They reopened, and I made it on the train, along with a few other people, including the old couple. As the train left the station, it lurched a bit, and the old couple tumbled to the ground, with the man hitting his head on the metal door between cars and his wife landing on top of him. The wife started sobbing (more out of shock than anything else) and was helped up, but the husband lay dazed on the floor. When he finally got up, blood was pouring from his scalp. Somebody asked him if he was okay, and when he answered, blood started pouring from his mouth. His wife was screaming "Oh my god, he's a diabetic!" When we got to Times Square, people told him to stay on the train while they got help, but he insisted on walking onto the platform, followed by his wife. Some onlookers managed to track down an MTA employee, and the paramedics were called in to help. Meanwhile, a woman on the train began yelling at the other passengers, saying most of us were just "standing around starin' at the guy like a fool."
Anyway, the whole thing was basically my fault, because if I hadn't caught the train, none of this would've happened. Sorry!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Two of my good friends, Joel Solomon and Elliott Phear, wrote a script a few years ago called Foreign Exchange. It's a high-school comedy in the vein of American Pie. And it's out on DVD today.

I should inform you that the script was extensively re-written during production to make it much raunchier... just assume that any funny moments were from my friends' original draft. Also it stars Jennifer Coolidge, Booger from Revenge of the Nerds, and Clint Howard, so it's gotta have its moments (despite it also starring Ryan Pinkston). And I've seen the first 10 minutes, which were better than the first 10 minutes of Soul Plane.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Some quick thoughts on last night's VMAs…
- Why did MTV suck up to Britney so much? Careers crest and fall, and Britney's has clearly fallen. It's not like MTV owes her anything… yes, she's given them plenty of memorable moments over the years, but would she have even had a career without MTV? She certainly got more from MTV than MTV got from her. It's disappointing, because awarding her those Moonmen reiterates people's complaints that MTV really doesn't care as much about music as they do about moments.
- Russell Brand had some decent jokes in his opening monologue, but the focus on politics seemed very out of place. MTV still caters mostly to teenage girls, who certainly didn't tune in to hear about the election or Levi Johnston. Right material, wrong audience.
- The backlot setting was hit or miss. Liked it for Pink, not for Jonas Brothers (most people say it looked like Sesame Street, I say it looked like a cross between 227 and the Stones' "Waiting on a Friend" video).
- The best part of the Jonas performance was the start of the fan stampede. Thousands of girls, and one overly-excited guy (he's wearing a blue shirt and runs right in front of the camera at the 2:09 mark).
- I did enjoy seeing genuine excitement from Tokio Hotel when they won Best New Artist. The other speeches were all identically boring. Thank God, thank fans, thank label, blah blah blah.
- How did the Pussycat Dolls' "When I Grow Up" win an award? It's unquestionably the worst song of 2008… so far, at least. I haven't heard the rest of their upcoming album (nor do I plan to). And I haven't listened to the new NKOTB song "Sexify My Love," which could compete if it's as bad as the title.
- Can't Paris Hilton do anything right? Look at the camera that has the teleprompter with words written on it. Then read those words.
- I would've bet a lot of money that Michael Phelps listened to Guns N Roses, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue before his races instead of Jay-Z, Eminem, and Lil Wayne. And I would've lost.
- Was it just me, or could you not hear Travis drumming all during LL Cool J's performance? LL kept asking for drum fills, and I could see Travis banging away, but couldn't actually hear the fills. How is that possible?
- MTV, everyone knows you make Rock Band 2… you don't need to force in the worst product placement EVER to remind us.
- How do Lil Wayne's low-hanging jeans not fall to his ankles when he runs around? Are they safety-pinned to his unmentionables?
- Hey Kid Rock, it's cool that you don't lip-sync. But don't brag too much... you only managed to score a hit single by mashing up two classic songs. Not much skill to that either... unless you're Girl Talk or the Kleptones.

A couple weeks ago, while bored at work, I submitted a Your Rock playlist to 92.3 K-Rock. The theme was "songs with negative words in the title" (such as Garbage's "Stupid Girl" and Nine Inch Nails' "Terrible Lie," to name two of the ten). Over the weekend I got an e-mail that they'll be playing my list* today during the 4pm hour. It's also one of the five nominees for best of the day... if you feel like voting for me (on the right side of this page), knock yourself out... I don't think that the winners get anything except respect, but I'll take a bit of respect.

* Note that K-Rock has the power to remove or even replace songs at their discretion, so all of the songs might not actually be mine.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Wow, has it really been like 6 weeks since my last post? Sigh, it has. So hard to get motivated to post these days. But here's something that finally did motivate me...

My Emmy arrived yesterday!

It took 10 weeks, not the 6-8 they promised, but at least they spelled my name correctly. Now I just need to figure out a place to put it, as my apartment has neither a mantle nor a toilet tank (which have been the two most common suggestions).

Also of note, I was able to use this win to come up with my favorite fantasy football team name yet: MyEmmy Dolphins.