Monthly Archive for April, 2002

Fun Link

I submitted an article the other day for the Planetizen news feed and it finally got posted. The article is about plans to create a gerrymandered city council district in Buffalo for artists, intellectuals and activists.

“This is not an attempt to carve out boundaries for some elite area,” said map sponsor Jeffrey A. Tooke. “It’s about giving a voice to a diverse community with a lot of folks who have some creative ideas.”

In a plan he submitted to the Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Reapportionment, Tooke said such a strategy could be a catalyst for downtown revitalization and citizen involvement.

Christ, I Haven’t Been In

Christ, I haven’t been in the neighborhood thrift stores since the H&M opened up downtown, but it was kind of a fun time. I love this brown corduroy shirt– it’s so worn in and LL Bean-ish… Not at all something I should be wearing, but i love it.

oy oy oy

GOD damn my head hurts… last night was really fucking rough. We went to see Loveless and the Realistics at the Paradise, but I had way too much to drink. I think we pre-partied at least 6 cans of Pabst BR, and then I must’ve had 4-5 buds at the show. Hooliganism abounded.

The Realistics were fucking cool as shit though. They’re so much better live than on their record. Anyway, Glenndo, evilmonkey, Ben, Presley and I were up front rocking out in this nearly empty place…

I think toward the end of the Loveless set I was singing along (subtlety god damnit. not dorky), and Dave Wanamaker must’ve noticed cause he thanked us for singing along and pointed at me… dork. Then, after they tore up the place on the last song, and they came down off the stage, I screamed at Jen Trynin and gave her a high-five… Well, I bought a Jen Trynin record when I was in high school (a long, long time ago), so it was nice to see her. I hope they appreciate the enthusiasm because there wasn’t a good crowd, and quite frankly I’m unemployed & I don’t get excited much.

So anyway, I need to get to why my head hurts. Coming out of the Paradise, we decided to head to the Silhouette for some pitchers, and we were fucking trashed… I think there were punches and wrestling, but we were just having fun. So we go to the ‘ouette and drink and drink. And then we leave, and head back down Brighton to the house… And, as we enter my building, I started chasing Glenn up the stairs, and I swear to GOD, I do a fucking battering ram right into the wall. head-first, I go down, and Glenndo starts laughing because he’s glad that he’s not me.

So we come inside and go to bed… which probably isn’t the greatest thing to do when you’ve just taken a header… So I wake up when Howard comes on my clock/radio at 8 30, and I’m naked sleeping sideways on my bed. And I totally forgot about the head-shot, so I think I’m only hungover… so I keep drinking water, and I’m wondering why the fog isn’t lifting… and THEN, I reached up to my head and felt a big fucking lump. right on the top of my head. big as day.

Sheilas Video

The Sheila Divine have a new video that was produced by subversion media, a very small, but cool Boston production house. The song isn’t the best thing they’ve done, but the video is terrific.

Also, rumor has it that they’ve been shooting the band’s live performances at the world-famous Paradise Rock Club (down the street from me) for use in a live concert DVD.

I’ve always professed a fondness for the logotype of WBFO, even if the University at Buffalo station only broadcasts NPR news for a few hours on the day. I remember seeing it on bumper stickers in the car parking lots—i swear they were only to be found on older european junkers, like a mustard-yellow Volvo 240 diesel, or a white 1979 BMW 320. Anyway, their web site spiffed-up the old logotype with some very lovely color. Kudos.

Boston University’s WBUR has a good logotype too.

SO – maybe I’m on to something here… NPR stations are non-commercial, yet their audience demographic is highliy-educated, and wealthier than the AM-talk set. Therefore it might make sense to have a more sophisticated image. Here’s the logotypes for other cities my fellow suckahs reside in:

washington, dc new york city, ny
bloomington, in los angeles, ca

albany, ny

Does my theory hold? Well, WAMC is a huge station, yet their logo resembles an AM talk station. WNYC is funky. i like it, but for seperate aethetic reasons. Remminds me of the subway. But the others are in the league with WBFO and WBUR. What do you think?

Praise the Lord, k10k.net is Back…

After more than a year of absence, the famous web design portal k10k.net is back. Some of the best stuff out there passes through that site, so I hope it hasn’t collected much dust.

An Album of One’s Own

The New Yorker gave Sarah Shannon’s solo debut album a favorable review:

fashion changes little in 10 years

From the opening trumpet-and-saxophone volley of Sarah Shannon’s self-titled début (Casa Recording Co.), it is clear that the singer is finished with the basic guitar-drum-and-bass setup of her indie-rock past, when she was the front woman for the introspective pop outfit Velocity Girl.

Here, Shannon (who plays the Knitting Factory this week) has assembled a small orchestra of horns, strings, and woodwinds, and the result is a warm paean to the power of the imagination. The songs cover familiar subjects, mostly love sought and love lost, but the album isn’t a delicate collection of wilting chamber pop. “I’ll Run Away,” which is propelled by the piano work of collaborator Blake Wescott (he produced the album and co-wrote a number of its songs), is a strongly defiant piece reminiscent of Carole King. “What’s Mine” bumps and grinds along on Wescott’s guitar chords, and it includes the staunch chorus “I don’t want to waste your time, but I got a feeling you’ve got what’s mine.”

The best part of the record, though, is Shannon’s wonderful voice, which makes each song a gem.

Also:

I’m on the Special Team

I found a link from burntsienna.nu that somehow i missed. Just like me… always behind.

Leave it to the New Yorker…

Once again, someone writing in the New Yorker puts to pen the thoughts that I’ve been loosely throwing about on the state of Rock n’ Roll

Jerry Lee Lewis was rock and roll. Gene Pitney wasn’t. The Pretenders were rock and roll. The Bee Gees weren’t. Elvis Costello was rock and roll for a while, and then he wasn’t.

By this standard, the moody crooning of Creed and friends doesn’t qualify; nor does the self-effacing arena rock of the Dave Matthews Band. But there does seem to be a new crop of bands that favor short, spiky songs galvanized by angst and anger. If these bands?the White Stripes and the Strokes are the best known, and among the best?aren’t exactly new, they’re a return to something older and more distinctive: to the spirit of punk and, before that, of the British Invasion.

(thanks danno for the link)

subpop

I’ve got some music links i’d like to pass along:

  • Subpop released the new Shins video [real playr]
  • also, check out the Shins’ first video, quite possibly the most beautiful song ever written [real playr]


and, subpop is also releasing a DVD [trailer – 9mb quicktime] of Damon and Naomi, the 2 other former members of the seminal 80’s indie slowcore band Galaxie 500… (the other being Dean Wareham now of Luna).

Convert, don’t Build

Anyone following the Adelphia bid to build a huge skyscraper on the Buffalo waterfront, has to laugh at the company’s determination to get it done. The company is having Enron-like financial woes, yet still wants to build this tower in a city that has commercial vacancy rates that rival occupancy rates. I’m not saying the Adelphia project is a mistake, however I think people aren’t focusing properly on how to foster the 24-hour downtown a vibrant city needs.

First, I think, you need to lure people who work in the city to also live in the city. Cities have certain advantages to offer: A concentration of local businesses and services within walking distance (or by train), including restaurants, arts and cultural offerings, and shops. Instead of infilling the city with suburban-type developments (main place mall), or huge gated residential projects, why not play off the strengths of city-living, by revitalizing dense, mixed-use neighborhoods, and provide a housing alternative for people?

I’ve been encouraged to see, as I have pointed out in my blog, that developers in Buffalo are taking interest in converting old commercial and industrial space into residential housing (lofts.) It’s been shown to make money, and I think that might be the catalyst for a true downtown recovery. The kinds of people looking for this kind of housing have been willing to pay upwards of $1000 for a one-bedroom loft—(incidentally, in boston that would be a bargain, but in buffalo! My god, that’s no bargain)—so they must have money, and need services like groceries, restaurants, and bars. Presto!, urban renewal… You don’t need to throw cataclysmic money into develping a new skyscraper, when the marketplace can do you just as good.

I Like Girls with Glasses.

I like girls with glasses.

Glasses, like small breasts, seem to be one of those things that women automatically assume men find unattractive.

Gonna Tell Everyone to Lighten Up

Well, it’s going to be 88 degrees here wednesday, so summer has arrived. and, yes, that is Liz Phair singing back-up vocals on Sheryl Crow’s new single, soak up the sun. Seems silly, but true.

Those of you familiar with her peculiar harmonizing might have picked that up, (I didn’t). Rumor has it that everyone’s favorite reformed-indie-low-fi-pioneer makes a cameo in the video, playing basketball, of all things. Sheryl’s explanation of how they hooked up, makes me wonder about this liz + basketball thing.

Go McCall!

If you’re in New York, and you’re a Democrat, support Carl McCall for Governor. He’s currently running against Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination. Here is a little parody i did of andy, comparing him to dukakis.

Giving Back

Ani DiFranco recently donated $40,000 to her alma matter, Visual and Performing Arts High School in Buffalo, and to other Buffalo public school arts programs.

Trains are better than Cars

buff-central-term-2.jpg
Central Station, Buffalo, NY, circa 1930.

Presley’s sister Kelly was in town this past weekend, and she left yesterday on the Amtrak train from Back Bay Station, which got me thinking about train stations and trains in general. Everyone in these New Urbanist books that I read can’t fathom how America ended up wedded to the automobile, while the Europeans remain contented with trains.

I think it’s a simple answer: after the war, we just could. It was the thing to do, and we had the resources. But, isn’t there something wonderful about trains? And more importantly, big city train stations? Grand Central in Manhattan is gorgeous. Moderinists moan on about how style should be down-played because it is the taste of economic elites, but I don’t care if putting a building like that up was a capitalist show of wealth and power—it had beauty, craftmanship and it was a place where people of all races and incomes passed through. They destroyed Penn Station in the sixties to put up Madison Square Garden. big whoop. If anything, MSG is more capitalist-minded than the building it replaced.

So, it brings me around to Buffalo and Kelly’s departure… Earlier in this century, Buffalo actually was in the top 5 for most railroad track—Buffalo had industry, and it was located on the important route between new york and chicago. The city built some beautiful train stations (subsequently demolished), who’s architecture seems wonderfully as grand as Grand Central itself. The last remaining station, Central Terminal, still stands on the East Side, though it’s falling apart. I wish to God the city could find some new use for the facility—problem is, it is located in the most economically depressed area of the city.

Katya Katya Katya

I read Paul Greenberg’s first book Leaving Katya, after hearing an interview with Bruce Gellerman on WBUR, and I was so very pleased. The least I can do is recommend it to anyone who’s gone through a ‘Russian phase’.

And, I suspect the author is a web-savvy guy, cause he found me, and sent me this e-mail:

——-Original Message——-
From: Paul Greenberg
Sent: Saturday, April 06, 2002 6:45 PM
To: ned@suckahs.org
Subject: LEAVING KATYA readings in Boston
———————-

Dear Ned,
Thought you might be interested in these upcoming Leaving Katya events.

Best,
Paul Greenberg
———————————

Paul Greenberg will be doing a series of readings from his Russian American love story LEAVING KATYA in the Boston area coming up in April. Carolyn See in The Washington Post called LEAVING KATYA “A terribly funny novel.” The New York Times wrote that in LEAVING KATYA , “Greenberg, comic and knowing, has done a rare thing supremely well.” Bruce Gellerman of WBUR’s Here and Now said, “The writing in LEAVING KATYA is rich, funny and forceful” while Vogue Magazine wrote “this tale will resonate with anyone whose infatuation with an exotic person or place has revealed dissatisfactions that lie a little closer to home.”

Exact details for the readings are as follows:

April 8, 2002
6:30 PM
Dinner and Book Club Discussion at
The Hamersley’s Bistro
553 Tremont Street
Boston, MA
For reservations call 617-423-2700

April 9, 2002
Author reading
Barnes & Noble at Boston University
660 Beacon St., Kenmore Sq.
Boston, MA

April 11, 2002
4:00 PM
Russian Tea, Reading and Discussion
Russian Studies Department
Marston Hall
Brown University
Providence, RI

April 18, 2002
7:30 PM
Author reading
Newtonville Books
296 Walton Street
Newton Massachusetts
(for directions call: 617 244 6619)

(Note: Beginning April 1 Leaving Katya will be available at all Barnes and Nobles in the “Discover Great New Writers” section of the store.)

Sloan

(I’m going to do something very very bad. I’m going to compare a band to the Strokes. I do this only to promote them, cos they rock.)

Growing up in a ass-backwards place like Buffalo, we were privileged to get Toronto radio stations, especially cfny 102.1 the edge. We heard things like Blur, Morrissey, Nirvana and others before MTV or the corporate stateside stations picked them up. We were fortunate.

Also, from time to time, someone would go and compare Toronto to New York, as if somehow there is a fucking comparison. But, in a way, I think the differences between these two cities are emblematic of the cultural differences between the US and Canada. Toronto is very 20th century, the people are nice, and harmony abounds. New York is very turn-of-the-century, at best the people aren’t naively nice, and a city this big is about as fractious as dropping a rose dipped in nitrogen.

If we extend the cultural dichotomy to include music, one could hardly find a better modern example of New York Rock n’ Roll than the Strokes— frantic as a mid-town cab ride, insolent as hell, easy to look at, and yet, utterly brilliant song-writers and performers.

I’d argue that Sloan is the band Toronto can claim as their own (all though they’re from halifax). Style-wise, Sloan might look like the Strokes’ B-team, or understudies– they’re kinda dorky, and almost a decade older. There music draws from similar 70’s rock sources as the Strokes, but they are more harmonic and straight-forward in delivery. If Toronto is New York without all the baggage, then Sloan is the Strokes on prozac.

And one more point of comparison! Sloan just got signed to RCA, the label that signed the Strokes, and their new album Pretty Together will be out later this month.

watch some videos:

If It Feels Good Do It [56k] [dsl]
The Other Man [56k] [dsl]

Freelance Neddie

I got some good news today! I’ve been working on a website for two women starting a new business, and it’s going well (nearly complete). They are so great.

Anyway, they passed my name on to someone at Accenture, and it looks like I’ll be doing a website for a small group over there. The details need to be worked out, but I’m excited (cos it pays quite well!).

Is it bad to want to buy a couple of $4 bottles of champagne at the corner and celebrate? By myself?

It’s Spring

I put up a new semi-temporary design at suckahs.org, for spring. It seemed silly to have snowflakes falling in April.

When I get the chance, I want to sit down with a few people and come up with a master plan for suckahs in the coming months. I’d like to extend the site to include some writing — be it reviews, commentary, articles, features, photo essays, comix, or whatever. I don’t want to turn this into a zine, that requires an intense amount of work, however it would be nice to capture and share some of the talents the group possesses.

I think that it may add to the discussion, and provide all of us with something to write about. That is always the problem to get around, with blogs… finding something to write about.

Art is Art?

Flipping to the Op-Ed page of the Boston Globe today, I was suprised and encouraged to see that they printed a column criticizing a recent exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York. This kind of exhibit, which featured works that use Holocaust themes (and nazi symbols) in a postmodernist context of irony and kitsch, seems so tired and done-before, and contributes little to the tradition of Art and cultural offerings in this country.

And if the Globe isn’t a sufficiently Liberal source, (it’s probably the most Liberal major newspaper of record, thankfully), The Village Voice offered a negative review too. I’d be interested to hear first-hand, from people who’ve attended it. Anyone checked it out?