Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Improv Everywhere Loves Cobble Hill - Invisible Dogs on Leashes

Taken from my camera phone. My crappy, crappy camera phone.

So Sunday proved to be a bit of bizarre hilarity as thousands of folks were either walking invisible dogs or treated to a wonderful, community-wide show of appreciation for stuff that's not actually there. What was funny was people acting like the dog existed, so it would tug, pull, stop, pee, poop, etc. Kinda awesome.

If I only passed by a dog park...

New Grade song!!! "These Eyes Are On The Exit"

The other photo I found one of the band members was wearing their own merch. That's no fun...also the above album has a hilarious mistaken identity issue with the Taylor "Soul Patrol" Hicks album of the same name. People looking for the latter album ended up giving this album terrible ratings on Amazon.com because they were too dumb to notice that just maybe the artist wasn't correct or that Satan forbid there's the same title to multiple recordings. Sucks for Grade, and sucks that Taylor Hicks fans are total idiots. I love soul music. Although there's one review that's a 5 star review for the Taylor Hicks album, under the Grade CD page. I think that's probably even more idiotic...

Grade is one of my favorite bands of all time. They dance along a fine line of being too melodramatic, but they back it up with a sensible mix of hardcore, punk, pop hooks, and a tinge of metal.

By sensible I mean their music gets under your skin; there's a familiarity to it, as if they sound like other bands, but the key is they did it slightly before, and did it better. They don't sound overly polished, and are really huge on the 5ths which is a favorite guitar sling of mine. Their pop sheen is buried under tons of distortion and even better, they take their time with the melodies and rhythms. This patience either causes or is because of the heaviness of the sound; some part always feels almost behind in pace whether it's the vocals (strung along with not a lot of regard to the music, very emo eh?), the guitars, or the drumming. It may sound sloppy, but you realize that the music just has this weight to it; that's what makes the sluggishness so appealing. When I take a look at their tabs, I'm amazed at how simple they are.

What helps is the vocals: they switch between these powerful screams and a harsh, raspy, sometimes snotty singing from Kyle Bishop. It never veers into that territory of clean singing, which I feel has ruined so many other bands. The screaming I guess I would not be able to place as different than other bands, but the pitch has a lightness to it that just sounds actually angry and not screaming for a macho effect. The instrumentation from most song to song has the same reverb-y, wide, big pummel to it. It's like one epic scream along after the next. The kind of songs where you stand there and raise a hand, fingers curled, with your palm facing you as you take in huge breaths and scream every syllable, whether you know the lyrics or not, at a 45 degree angle upward.

New song at Grade's MySpace page

With their new song, "These Eyes Are On The Exit", it starts off unassuming and pretty clean, and then tears into what I would think is ecstasy for fans of the band. Talk about not even missing a beat, it feels exactly like their prime material. Sure there's more backing vocals, but punk has to make a comeback at some point right? The words are still unintelligible, there's a slow breakdown in the middle, and the guitar work has the same feel to it.

My friend and office mate Loni from esteemed blogs such as Berman's Bothers informed me that this was part of a split with Bane, who is coming around again in late October to New York to Santos Party House, where apparently everything is possible. It's good to see a band in such good standing with other bands. Also, more bands should do splits in general; I always thought that was a great way of building rapport in the community. Kind of like rappers guest appearing on other artists' tracks, but in a slightly more substantial way.

I'm definitely pumped.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cute Puppy Friday - Better Have That Tray To Catch Your Melting Heart

Stop it. Just stop it. The Japanese know no boundaries when it comes to charming everyone. To celebrate Michael Vick's return to football:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Yo La Tengo Ticket Giveaway - We have a winner!

We have a winner for the Yo La Tengo ticket giveaway, Chris Cab-tion contest stylie. The concert is on Friday 9/25 at Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, and again, NO Hanukkah shows this year for YLT so get going to this one.

Patrick said: The ass-distraction tactic backfired when Chris' ensuing erection proved far more distracting.

Runner up, who will receive a DVD prize pack is Ed-G, with this ditty: As Tommy bent over to retrieve his fallen cup, Bill decided to give the name "Bowling for Colon-bine" new meaning.

Thanks to Live Nation for providing tickets. If you couldn't think of anything at the time but want to re-live the Chris Cabin magic, go to the original post.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Face to Face @ Gramercy Blender Theater 9.17.09

The evening started off jovial enough, getting a drink with Walter of Marvelous Observations From The Yellow Lines before heading to the concert. I knew that at least at Blender the way the stage curves up I would have no trouble getting a great view if I got there with some time to spare.

Gramercy has inflated their prices somewhat but I was glad that I caught Face To Face with Pegboy and Polar Bear Club (I did not get to see PBC unfortunately).

Pegboy, an older punk staple from Chicago, was hilarious. The lead singer Larry Danmore was fantastic, mentioning that he was 10 years older and also 40 pounds heavier, he still pranced around like a big brat with a gnarly snarl which was awesome. Self-depracating in an endearing sort of way, even though I thought the music wasn't the best. My problem was more the sound system at Gramercy which was not up to par at all this time around (Face To Face had some really messed up low-end sounds on several songs as well). For Pegboy the vocals I felt were a bit high; their music has a sloshy feel with a great guitar presence and I thought that was a bit lost.

Face To Face has not played in about 4 years. This was a reunion kind of tour after playing several shows intermittedly over several months, and it was great to catch them for the first time (when I was most into them was probably high school, and by college nobody came around the Albany area and I had not gone to too many shows in the city, but I digress).

All I know is I think they only played one song off of Ignorance Is Bliss, which I used to own and subsequently re-sold to the used record store I bought it from; not knocking anyone who ends up making a record during their lifetime but it just wasn't that good. Face To Face has been on something like 6 record labels with several albums to their name and all sorts of six-degrees-of-separation with their band members. Being from Southern California during the rise of a new wave of punk in the mid-1990s, I feel like Face To Face was more of a local favorite than a mainstream success. They played a huge chunk of Big Choice which was a breakout record for them (and as my co-worker Loni educated me, their second album), as well as stuff from their self-titled. They are one of those bands that has the respect of a lot of people just for sticking to a particular sound, saying what they mean, and sounding just so tried and true.

Anywho, Trever Keith, the lead singer, is one earnest dude. He's engaging but incredibly thankful to the crowd for being awesome (he noted that NYC always gives Face To Face the biggest reception besides L.A.). He's got this snotty voice but with a low-end tone to it, it's very accessible and interesting.

Heavy on the power chords and big, simple rhyming lyrics, they sound like a west-coast, skater punk band that pulled out a hook or two every song. Lyrically I always thought Face To Face was so bank; they minced epic words with a big-hearted nature, which could turn out cheesy but they make it work and put some power behind it.

They did 3 song tears and then would take a minute to thank the crowd, and then start all over again; the circle pit opened up several times to a fairly large size, but little crowd surfing.

The crowd was mostly older, or at least above 24 I would say; Face To Face is probably one of those bands that the young'uns wouldn't necessarily get into at this point and they haven't been active for a while either (just a hunch, not a statement I'll back up by any means). Lots of 35 year olds yelling the songs that they wanted to hear, which I always found annoying. In the beginning there was this girl in front of me who had a ponytail from somewhat short hair so the tail jutted out and swiped my face a few times, which kinda sucked but once the crowd got moving her and her old man moved toward the front.

In the end though, a great concert. I wish I wasn't fighting a nasty runny nose but I still had lots of fun; their music was built for sing alongs and huge chants and it was good chemistry between the band and the audience.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Resident Film Critic Chris Cabin Reviews -

Note: The Informant! is playing at most theaters in the city and in Brooklyn, go here for showtimes. Poster courtesy of IMP awards.

As has been widely reported, Matt Damon gained 40 pounds to play whistleblower Mark Whitacre, the mustachioed high-level exec at Archer Daniels Midland who became an informant for the FBI sometime in late 1992, in Steven Soderbergh's odd new film The Informant! Hidden behind a pair of thick frames, adjusting his toupee as much as his mood, Damon's Whitacre is plain, greedy and fantastical; the sort of man who sees himself not only as a corporate hero in any one Michael Crichton novel but also reflected in the Tom Cruise who embodies those righteous corporate ethicists on the big screen. He has ideas and big plans, ones that he believes could be jeopardized at any moment by a random tapped phone.

And yet, he is, as several people involved with the real Whitacre have opined, a sort of national hero. A biochemist who had to "learn business," Whitacre supplied hundreds of tapes -- audio and visual -- to the FBI between 1992 and 1995 that fueled the Justice Department's case against ADM leading to the agribusiness conglomerate paying well over $500 million in settlement and class action cases. The catch, of course, was that while playing avenger, Mr. Whitacre forgot to disclose kickback funds that may have reached more than $11 million. Faithful to his wife of 20+ years, the father of two adopted children and one of his own, he is a liar and a thief but it would seem, in Mr. Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns' eyes, that every good corporate man has an accepted level of corruption going in; even the ones who want to clean up the joint.

Scored by Marvin Hamlisch in what, at first, seems like a bid at kitsch, Damon's guileful do-gooder opens the film by explaining, both to the audience and his child, how corn is in everything you eat, touch and steal. At ADM, his work has largely focused on lysine, the amino acid that his company frames their price-fixing scam around. It's his wife Ginger, dutifully played by Melanie Lynskey, who prods him into confessing the price-fixing scam to Special Agents Shepard (Scott Bakula) and Herndon (Tony McHale). Professional if just a bit zealous, the Agents sum up Whitacre as both brave and boring. In a brilliant bit of screenwriting, the action and dialogue are repeatedly overshadowed by Whitacre's voice-overs, delivering monologues on an array of throwaway facts including polar bears, being kind and tie sales in whispery chatter reminiscent of Godard's hovering prognostications from his 60s salad days.

An extension of these monologues, Soderbergh's aesthetic is a marvel of bourgeois bad taste. Made with the washed-out precision of cheap 80s television, editor Stephen Mirrione and production designer Doug J. Meerdink work with director/cinematographer Soderbergh to invoke the nausea of upper-class lethargy. But despite this bravura tribute to mediocrity, The Informant! Is not a sweet movie nor is it a placid one. Whitacre embodies the mindset of the current business construct: I'll open the closets as long as you don't stare at my skeletons.

Softened ever-so-slightly by the admittance of bi-polar disorder, Whitacre's infuriating inability to own up to his own malfeasance may not have been sold so easily if not for Mr. Damon who has rarely been so clever and never been as funny as he is here. Seeing as he is constantly surrounded by a rogue's gallery of lawyers and co-workers, Soderbergh pulls a masterstroke by casting many of the smaller roles with stand-up comedians and television actors -- Patton Oswald, Tom Wilson and Tony Hale all show up in minor roles. It plays directly towards Soderbergh's central premise: The characters primarily responsible for our current crisis are so off-the-chart self-serving, greedy and absurd, that you really have no choice but to laugh at them.

Even as it points to our current state, The Informant! also contemplates the grand lunacy of how we pick our heroes. Is Whitacre to be admonished or celebrated? Despite his presumptuous greed, he helped bring in one of the great monopoly schemes in history and remains, to this day, a good father and husband. As we begin to heal from the bruises of the Bush era and weather the outlandish accusations made against honest reform, The Informant! speaks to a generation where the concept of honesty has an 80% mark-up.

Chris Cabin is the resident film critic. You can catch him at AMC's Filmcritic.com. Or win a pair of Yo La Tengo tickets to their Roseland Ballroom show next week by commenting on his recent Cab-tion contest.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yo La Tengo Ticket Giveaway - Chris Cab-tion Contest Special 9.16.09

Today's Chris Cab-tion contest brings extra joy, because I have a pair of Yo La Tengo tickets to give away for their show on Friday 9/25 at Roseland Ballroom courtesy of Live Nation. The tickets will be at will call, so no worries about needed the stub to hold on to your memories. The concert starts at 8pm but make sure to always call beforehand to get set times, so you can arrive when you want to arrive, which is almost always fashionably late, right? There are NO Hanukkah shows this year for YLT so you're going to want to celebrate early, not late this time.

The concert includes:

Yo La Tengo with The Black Lips (always get them and The Black Keys mixed up)



Yo La Tengo has been around for a loooong time and with such a large catalog you won't be disappointed. Although I'm not a Mets fan per se, I can dig it. There has been contemporary dance set to their music. That's how awesome. If you can't appreciate contemporary dance, well then you go right out there and get to a BAM performance. I'm not sure why I'm sounding so indignant, but a little energy never hurts. Newest video here (from The Music Slut):

If you don't think you're going to win because you're not witty enough, AND you like Yo La Tengo that much (and don't visit Hoboken often) you might want to pick up tickets here.

Here is your time to shine folks. Comment below and I will choose a winner next Tuesday Sept. 22nd (sorry folks, a couple of late entries extended the contest) from the entries:

BellTel Lofts has parking, residents can stop parking at creepy lot

So BellTel residents received word from the sponsor that the garage is indeed up finally, after so many months of slow work (it was said that little things needed to be fixed before completion). 250 a month, 300 for larger vehicles (I'm assuming that means SUVs, vans, and sabretooth tigers) and available to BellTel residents only for now.

Valet service? Is this The Flamingo Kid, or L.A. for that matter? Certainly additional information will have to be hammered out but for those who drive, now can thrive.

Ok that was a lame rhyme.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh Patrick Swayze, You Will Be Missed

Got some great Patrick Swayze Tributes (yes it's a capital T because, well just because).

From Cage Potato, 10 Things Roadhouse Taught Us About Fighting.

And Adult Swim's take:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Goodbye Summer 2009

Great to have known you, and cheers. And now in tribute, a song that reminds me of summer, creamsicles melting in the hot sun, and funk on the corner.
To celebrate Michael Vick's return to football:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The First Episode of 'The Head' at Freddy's Backroom 9.9.09

I was a huge fan of The Head when it aired on MTV as a weird, mystery serial; it was so odd in a really wonderful way, and the trippy, dream quality and story really drew me in. You can catch the first episode in all it's glory starting at 8:30 as part of a "head-y" bill selected by the friends at Kings County Cinema Society that includes the feature The Man With Two Heads.

Freddy's Backroom is wonderful for the cheap drinks and Prospect Heights location, check it out for a lively but not too crowded weekend evening. I've gotten many a whiskey and Guinness there.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Deep In The Heart Of Brooklyn Blog Loves some DoBro

Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn Blog has posted a lovely little passage devoted to Brooklyn Heights and the Borough Hall area. Reflective and seasonal are two words that come to mind:

"A little before 1 PM on a perfect late summer day in Brooklyn Heights. Sunny, not hot, with a gentle, cooling breeze wafting off the water down Montague Street. The Thursday Greenmarket is in full swing, selling delicious looking fruits, vegetables and organic baked goods. Folks taking their time today, enjoying being outdoors, unlike a couple of weeks ago when the heat and humidity had them on the run, seeking a cooler place. But today, a jazz guitarist performs on Cadman Plaza, and delightful cafe tables have been set out in the shade of Brooklyn Borough Hall, being enjoyed by the lunch-time crowd. Late summer is here. Fall not too far off. Always a great time to enjoy Brooklyn, outside, and at its best."

Carnegie Deli comes out with Wolverine Sandwich, Local Hospitals Treat Patrons for Broken Jaws

Photo Courtesy of Rocket Lounge Blog.

Just awesome. Carnegie Deli, one of those famous delis around 56th street and Broadway in Manhattan, just announced a carnivorous care package. The last time I ate a sandwich there, I had it to go, and my desk filled up with pastrami and paperwork. The new Wolverine sandwich will consist of:

corned beef
oh, and American cheese

While there are no photos of it quite yet, I'm sure you'll be up shit's creek after this one folks. No pain, no gain.