August 30, 2007
August 29, 2007
On Feb. 8, 2007, "NBC’s Nightly News devoted 14 seconds to Iraq compared to 3 minutes and 13 seconds to Anna Nicole. CNN referenced Anna Nicole 522% more frequently than it did Iraq. MSNBC was even worse — 708% more references to Anna Nicole than Iraq." Why? Because she was so freakin' lovable...
"Hilly Kristal, the founder of legendary New York punk rock venue CBGB, died on Tuesday from complications from lung cancer at the age of 75."
I played CBs twice in the late '80s (I played keyboards in a band called "Perry Mason Loses"). Memories I'll never forget (great sound, great vibe, frightening bathrooms). Thanks for the amazing venue Hilly.
Ah, remember when President Feelgood filled us full of platitudes and promised to rebuild the Gulf Coast?
(Click to watch)
via Facing South: On September 15, 2005, President Bush pledged that our nation would "do what it takes, and stay as long as it takes," to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Yet over 60,000 people are still in "temporary" FEMA trailers, and houses, hospitals and schools across the region remain shuttered. For thousands of people, the Katrina recovery has failed.Meanwhile, Bush wants another $50 billion to fund his failed war and extend it at least until the next President takes over. Priorities...
(The Institute for Southern Studies report), published in collaboration with Oxfam America and the Jewish Funds for Justice, looks at 80 statistical indicators and draws on interviews with more than 40 Gulf Coast leaders to identify roadblocks to recovery, and ways federal leaders can tackle critical needs in the region like housing, jobs and coastal protection.
The study also features "Where did the Katrina money go?" -- an in-depth analysis of federal Katrina spending since 2005. The Institute reveals that, out of the $116 billion in Katrina funds allocated, less than 30% has gone towards long-term rebuilding -- and less than half of that 30% has been spent, much less reached those most in need. (Click the link for a full copy of the report)
August 28, 2007
August 27, 2007
The Transistor Widow's keeper has returned after a year-long hiatus and we here at I'm Just Sayin' rejoice. Rejoice I tell you! Oddly (or perfectly), No. 018 in a series of ??? arrived in my inbox while I was on the D train heading to Coney Island with my nephew. So, after you take in the latest Widow, scroll down for some observations and videos on the island that is not an island...
Untitled, Will McRobb (2007)
During my 47 years on this planet, 41 of them spent more or less in the New York/New Jersey area, I had never been to Coney Island (at least not to my knowledge -- it's possible my parents took me there when I was a wee lad). So, last Sunday, my wife and I made a pilgrimage to the end of Brooklyn to visit the birthplace of the hot dog before it becomes a sanitized "year-round entertainment destination with seaside attractions and a stronger residential community" or worse: An "Incredibly Bold, Audaciously Cheesy, Jaw-Droppingly Vegasified, Billion-Dollar Glam-Rock" version of Coney Island. Sadly, this is Coney Island's last season (thru Halloween) as the "Coney Island" most people know and love.
Unfortunately for my wife and I, it rained an hour after we got there, but we did get to ride the Wonder Wheel (more on that later) and the world famous Cyclone roller coaster which is celebrating it's 80th Anniversary. Happy Anniversary, you crazy old, beat up, wooden terror machine! My wife road the Cyclone about 17 years ago (before we met), four times in a row...with her mother...who was in her late '60s at the time!!! Meanwhile, one week later, my neck is still a little sore.
On Thursday, my nephew came to town to join me for a Mets-Padres game (6-run comeback, extra innings...Mets lost...still fun) and for our daytime entertainment we got on the D train for a more thorough visit to the place which once was home to Lilliputia, "an experimental community of little people...(who) in a bid to enhance the attraction’s freak factor...were told to engage in promiscuous sexual behavior" -- this was between 1904 and 1911!
First stop, The Wonder Wheel:
(Click to watch)
Warning: Spoiler Alert! If you've never been on The Wonder Wheel, you may not want to watch the above video. Let's just say if you choose the "swinging" option, the ride isn't your typical ferris wheel experience.
After The Wonder Wheel, we took a spin on the iconic Astrotower (along with a loud group of day campers) and got a great panoramic view of Coney Island and a cool view of the Cyclone:
(Click to watch)
Speaking of day campers, check out these youngsters on the Frog Hopper:
(Click to watch)
Screaming kids: They are so much funnier when they are not sitting behind you on an airplane.
After riding the Cyclone twice in a row (hint: it's $6 for the first ride and then at the end they tell you you can ride it again for $4 which they then reduce to $3 when they don't get any takers), my nephew and I headed over to the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. We were informed that the performers had just bought their theater and we were about to witness their first performance as owner/operators. As a result, we were all treated to child admissions ($4 instead of $6). The show was great fun but not for the ridiculously squeamish -- c'mon, you can handle a guy pounding a large nail into his nose, can't you? No picture taking was allowed but there was a preview outside before the performance:
(Click to watch)
In the video, besides the circus barker, that's Insectavora (the fire eater) and Serpentina (the snake charmer) on the left side of the screen and Jesus "Chuy" Aceves, the Wolf Boy on the right. At the end of the video I threw in a shot of Donny Vomit, the show's MC and the guy who pounds that nail up his nose.
And here's a bonus picture of Insectavora on her way to work:
So, get your ass to Coney Island before it becomes a bad joke. A good time is guaranteed for all.
(for more info on Coney Island, go here)
Today's tasty morsel is "Driving Aloud" (Radio Storm) by Robyn Hitchcock who has been doing his "thing" since 1976. Most recently his "thing" was teaming up with Peter Buck (R.E.M.) to form the Venus 3. Earlier "things" consist of a double album of Bob Dylan covers, over 25 albums as a solo artist or with his band The Eqyptians and various albums and EPs with his original band, The Soft Boys. His music has been described as New Wave, folk, neo-psychedelic and pop. He likes to write about death, food, insects and sex. He is a very strange man. He is one of my favorite all-time artists.
"Driving Aloud" is from one of his more "commerical" efforts, RESPECT which unfortunately is no longer available new, only used (which doesn't do Robyn's bank account any good). You could support Robyn and get a great deal on 9 songs by buying his Sex, Food, Death, and Tarantulas live album on iTunes (only $3.99!) And in October, Yep Roc Records will begin reissuing Robyn's back catalog beginning with 3 discs and a b-sides/outtakes/demos collection called While Thatcher Mauled Britain Part 1 & 2. In the meantime, click on Robyn to listen to/download "Driving Aloud" and see if you're not singing along (loudly) by the second chorus.
August 24, 2007
Gosh, Ted Nugent seems like such a polite, well-educated man. Can't understand why anyone would think he's Gonzo:
Ted: "I was in Chicago last week I said—Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these you punk? Obama, he’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on one of my machine guns…Let’s hear it for them. I was in NY and I said hey Hillary—you might want to ride one of these into the sunset you worthless bitch…Since I’m in California, I’m gonna find– she might wanna suck on my machine gun! Hey, Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions? Freeeeedom!"
What a puke.
August 21, 2007
"The Bush administration, engaged in a battle with Congress over whether a popular children's health insurance program should be expanded, has announced new policies that will make it harder for states to insure all but the lowest-income children."Beanheads.
For more info, go here.
August 20, 2007
Today's toe-tapper comes courtesy of Winnipeg's The Weakerthans, proponents of "punk-inflected folk rock" -- or is that folk-inflected punk rock or rock-inflected punk folk? Doesn't matter. They're good. Not very prolific (only three full-length albums in a decade), but good (according to stereogum, they've got a new album on the way). Until the new album comes out, you can chew on Watermark, a track from 2000's Left and Leaving (which also contains the song Aside which somehow ended up on the end credits of The Wedding Crashers. I'm guessing Owen Wilson's a fan). Click the album cover and punk-folk-rock out.
August 17, 2007
Lisa Marie Presley teams up with her dead Daddy for "In the Ghetto":
Poor Lisa Marie. She actually has a decent voice (I admit it: my wife and and I like her first album, To Whom It May Concern), but this video and "collaboration" is just god-awful. This, however, is stellar:
My wife and I caught Frost/Nixon last night on Broadway. We both agreed that it was one of the best experiences we've ever had at the theater.
It was written by Peter Morgan who also wrote the screenplay for The Queen and The Last King of Scotland (you could say Peter's on a roll). Like The Queen (and I'm assuming The Last King -- haven't seen it yet), Frost/Nixon makes you feel like a fly on a wall of history -- not for one moment did I feel like, "Oh, he's making shit up." This is in part due to the fact that he mixed verbatim moments of historical, videotaped dialog with impeccable research (undoubtedly he was helped a great deal by James Reston, Jr., whose book about his role in the Frost/Nixon interviews has just been published, 30 years after it was written). For example, check out the following outtakes of Nixon, right before his resignation speech. Morgan used most of it to open the play and it perfectly set up the "character" of Richard Nixon:
What's truly great about the play is the tension Morgan creates. (Spoiler alert!) You would think that a play about a British guy interviewing a disgraced ex-president could be a potential snooze-fest but Morgan keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time -- it also doesn't hurt that the two leads, Michael Sheen as Frost (he played Blair in The Queen) and Frank Langella as Nixon, are absolutely brilliant (Langella won a Tony for his performance). The tension in the play derives mostly from the fact that Frost was a showman, not a journalist, and Nixon was a master of tooting his own horn. Frost's team was worried that they were throwing away the one chance to get Nixon to come clean on his role in Watergate and that the series of interviews would end up becoming Nixon's salvation. You can watch the excerpts from the actual interviews below to see why Frost's team thought they were doomed. Nixon meanders and meanders, not allowing Frost to get a word in edgewise, thus completely controlling the interview:
Trust me: the play is a million times more compelling than the 10 minutes you just watched.
There are only four more performances of this incredible play. If you are in the New York area, try to score some tickets for this weekend. If you miss it, you can catch the forthcoming movie version, directed by Opie.
August 16, 2007
New York Magazine's culture editor Jared Hohlt is either blind (unlikely); an idiot (quite possibly); or thinks he is cute and clever (highly likely). In the most recent issue of the magazine, Hohlt ran a profile on the great Mary Louise Parker which spent quite a lot of space sympathetically retelling the tabloid-esque tale of her breakup with actor Billy Crudup (he reportedly left Parker while she was seven months pregnant to hook-up with his younger co-star Claire Danes). Nothing really wrong with that, right? That's just obvious journalism in action. The problem with the story is that it was followed, on the very next page, by a review of Stardust featuring both a picture and glowing praise for it's star...Claire Danes.
Parker, Crudup and Danes have all moved on. Hohlt is apparently still in High School.
August 14, 2007
Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto has gone to the great baseball stadium in the sky. Here's one of his "poems":
The Bridge(from O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto)Two balls and a strike.
You know what they had on TV today, White?
Bridge on the River Kwai
Everybody should have gotten an Academy Award for
I don't know how many times I've seen it.
About forty times.
Three and one the count.
I just heard somebody whistle.
You know that song?
That's what they whistle.
And he pops it up.
Jon Stewart bids farewell to the Turd Blossom:
As much as I enjoyed this opening segment of last night's Daily Show, I almost threw my wine glass through the TV after watching the following:
I'm sorry Jon, but after some decent jabs, you ultimately treated Bill Kristol like he was Matt Damon plugging his latest action movie. Bill Kristol is one of the country's leading neoconservatives and perhaps the biggest cheerleader of the ill-fated war in Iraq. Here's what Bill wrote just prior to our illegal invasion:
We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats. But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam's regime. It will produce whatever effects it will produce on neighboring countries and on the broader war on terror. We would note now that even the threat of war against Saddam seems to be encouraging stirrings toward political reform in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and a measure of cooperation in the war against al Qaeda from other governments in the region. It turns out it really is better to be respected and feared than to be thought to share, with exquisite sensitivity, other people's pain. History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.The verdict that has been rendered is this: People like Bill Kristol have the blood of thousands of coalition troops and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians on their hands. Jon Stewart gave this American terrorist a free pass and let him have the last laugh. But there's nothing funny about this war or any war. I expect better from you Jon. Make it up to us tonight...
August 13, 2007
We are so deprived of nature here in NYC that my wife and I take great pleasure in all things Discovery Channel-like at our weekend house on the Jersey shore. One of our favorites is our friend "Wolfie" who most likely is not an actual Wolf Spider, but damn he's big and ridiculously talented and prolific (we find his webs are usually gone the next day and he's right back at it in the evening):
(Click to watch "Wolfie" in action)
I told our guests this weekend about this segment from last week's Daily Show and we spent the rest of the weekend doing our own "in other words" imitations of George. Click Jon to watch:
(Video courtesy of onegoodmove)
Husband and wife Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley formed Yo La Tengo in Hoboken, N.J. 23 years ago and have released 16 albums. Not only do they deserve an award for longevity, but also for eclecticism -- over the years they've made albums consisting of folk, pop, rock, punk, electronica. They even did a mean cover of Meet the Mets.
Today's free mp3 is a track from 1993's Painful. The song is called "Sudden Organ." As soon as you click the album cover above, you'll know why. Enjoy.
August 11, 2007
August 10, 2007
"I was at Ground Zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers. I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them."
(via The Daily News)
For contrast, here's a pic of one of the volunteer rescue workers:
(Photo courtesy of Welcome to SoHo Blues - Photography by Allan Tannenbaum - The Hidden Victims of 9/11)
This article in Salon ("Plastic bags are killing us") is one of the scariest things I've read in a long time. I'm sure someone in the Bush administration will dismiss it as phony science and that if we stop the right to choose plastic than the terrorists win. Here's an excerpt:
The plastic bag is an icon of convenience culture, by some estimates the single most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, numbering in the trillions. They're made from petroleum or natural gas with all the attendant environmental impacts of harvesting fossil fuels. One recent study found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they've been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It's equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.Time to buy one or two of these:
Only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled worldwide -- about 2 percent in the U.S. -- and the rest, when discarded, can persist for centuries. They can spend eternity in landfills, but that's not always the case. "They're so aerodynamic that even when they're properly disposed of in a trash can they can still blow away and become litter," says Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste. It's as litter that plastic bags have the most baleful effect. And we're not talking about your everyday eyesore.
Once aloft, stray bags cartwheel down city streets, alight in trees, billow from fences like flags, clog storm drains, wash into rivers and bays and even end up in the ocean, washed out to sea. Bits of plastic bags have been found in the nests of albatrosses in the remote Midway Islands. Floating bags can look all too much like tasty jellyfish to hungry marine critters. According to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, more than a million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating or getting entangled in plastic.
(Good luck: They are selling on eBay for up to $250.)
August 08, 2007
FourFour has "magically" acquired a copy of Lindsay Lohan's shouldabeenstraighttovideo movie, I Know Who Killed Me and put together some "hightlights." It ain't pretty. As FourFour beautifully puts it, "I believe that children are our future and I believe that child stars are our undoing." Watch, if you can, Lindsay actin' all growed up and shit, as she spews f-bomb after f-bomb:
(Click Lindsay's prosthetic middle finger to watch)
I honestly had no idea how little talent she actually has. Seriously, that's some pretty bad acting. Poor thing. She's become Judy Garland but without the decades-worth of accomplishments. Straight to the bottom.
Matt Murphy of Queens, NY!
(Click to watch)
Matt (wearing a Jose Reyes jersey over a Mets t-shirt) was on his way to Australia via San Francisco when he decided to go see the San Francisco Giants on a whim. Matt ended up with Barry Bonds' 756th career home run ball and, I'm assuming, a free trip to Australia.
Meanwhile, the guys who get paid to wear Mets uniforms, stunk up Shea Stadium last night.
August 07, 2007
David Rees, the man who brings us brilliant stuff like this:
(Click for more)
...is also one helluva an essayist. Do yourself a favor and read his evisceration of Michael Ignatieff's article, "Getting Iraq Wrong", from this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Here's a small excerpt (with Ignatieff's inanity in italics):
"We might test judgment by asking, on the issue of Iraq, who best anticipated how events turned out. But many of those who correctly anticipated catastrophe did so not by exercising judgment but by indulging in ideology. They opposed the invasion because they believed the president was only after the oil or because they believed America is always and in every situation wrong."
"Always and in every situation wrong?" Come on, we all like it when America wins at the Olympics, right? I bet even Ward Churchill had a crush on Mary Lou Retton, back in the day. Good thing they didn't make a baby together, though! Wow! That would have been an intense baby-- unlimited negative energy vs. unlimited positive energy and all that! For real, though: You anti-war people have got to admit, Ignatieff has you nailed. You dumb-asses who were right about everything for the wrong reasons, instead of wrong about everything for the right reasons. You lose.
I know I'm late to this dance, but my wife and I finally saw the documentary Grey Gardens last night and we can't recommend it enough.
Earlier this summer, my parents took us to see the Grey Gardens musical on Broadway. It was very good...except for the music (I guess the producers thought the only way to get butts crammed into those uncomfortable yet expensive Broadway seats was to add music and sparkle!). The play did an excellent job of revealing the past lives of Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter, "Little Edie". They were rich, they were fabulous, they were desired. But perhaps a tad eccentric. Unfortunately, the play spent so much time on the past (the entire first act), that it only scratched the surface of the Beale's later years in the raccoon-infested squaller of their East Hampton estate.
The film brilliantly documents the insanity of life at Grey Gardens. It was directed by the Maysles brothers, Albert and David (along with Ellen Hovde) who obviously had a way of making their subjects fall in love with them (literally in the case of "Little Edie" and Albert). If it's not on your Netflix queue, you know what to do.
For a little taste of the film, click the pic above...
August 06, 2007
Today's pick to click is T Bone Burnett's "The Killer Moon" from 1988's The Talking Animals. If you're familiar with T Bone, it's most likely through his production work (Elvis Costello, his ex-wife Sam Phillips, The Wallflowers, the "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack, etc.). But T Bone is an accomplished singer-songwriter who has been recording music since 1972 (with a 14 year hiatus between 1992-2006). While a lot of his music leans towards country, T Bone took a wide left turn with The Talking Animals, enlisting Peter Gabriel's guitarist David Rhodes as co-producer along with Gabriel's bassist Tony Levin and a slew of guest artists (including Costello, Bono and Rubén Blades). The result was a mixed bag but most of the record holds up and sounds as fresh today as it did almost 20 years ago.
"The Killer Moon" is based on a poem written by Burnett's six year old daughter at the time:
the talking animals sayClick the album cover to listen/download. Oh, and check out the cool video.
when the moon's so big and yellow
it's called the killer moon