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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Full Albums:

  • Gorillaz, Plastic Beach
  • Jay-Z, American Gangster and The Blueprint
  • Junior Boys, So This Is Goodbye
  • LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening!
  • The Lonely Island, Incredibad
  • Meth, Ghost and Rae, Wu Massacre (The beat on LCD Soundsystem’s “Pow Pow Pow” sounds a lot like “It’s that Wu Sh*t.”)
  • The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St. Deluxe Edition (Could not avoid it. Had to happen.)
  • The Roots, How I Got Over
  • Saves the Day, Stay What You Are
  • The-Dream, Love Hate and Love King (Oh, Tuesday is going to be amazing.)
  • A Tribe Called Quest, People’s Instinctive Travels And Paths Of Rhythm
  • Usher, Confessions and Raymond v. Raymond (If Confessions is good enough for The-Dream in “Luv Songs,” it damn sure is good enough for me. This is the first time I’ve ever listened to whole albums by him and I’m kind of confused. I feel like he has these amazing singles that wrap their fingers around every twist and turn of your brain cavity and then whole albums that kind of drag on. It makes me want to just make a playlist of all my favorite songs, call it “The Definitive Usher,” and save myself hours of listening to all the other stuff. I’ll be realistic, though: this probably won’t happen.)
  • Vampire Weekend, Contra (Surprised I didn’t hate it.)

Random Greatness:

  • Eagles of Death Metal, “Whorehoppin’ (Shit, Goddamn)”
  • Mos Def, “Mista Nigga”
  • The Rolling Stones, “Midnight Rambler”
  • +44, “Interlude”
  • Thursday, “Standing on the Edge of Summer”

Songs of the Week:

  • Junior Boys, “In the Morning”
  • Gorillaz, “Demon Days”

Strap in because I have not had a chance to write about girls recently and this shit is kind of hilarious. Also, why is it that the best nights these days don’t end until ~5AM? Not an actual question, just saying everyone I’ve been hanging out with has this whole thing about not leaving until 4 whether there’s a bar involved or not.

I go to a birthday party for a friend from way back in the day in Sunset Park. Here are some important facts: “way back in the day” means we went to a post-graduate thing for six weeks together…two years ago. Perhaps the most important fact is that she’s a lesbian, but only because of the night’s events.

Now let me weave you a tale for the grandkids. I’m talking with people I know from…two years ago…and meeting some really cool people who go to the same graduate program with the birthday girl. Honestly, one of the guys I meet is making the same jokes I am on a one-second delay. But to be fair, I make the same joke he does on a one-second delay at a proportional rate.

The sun has set and the rooftop party is starting to slow down. The birthday girl’s best friend shows up. I notice she’s kind of my type. And honestly, this is one of those things I can’t explain, I don’t really know what my type is; every once in a while I meet a girl and I have some sort of subliminal thought process along the lines of, “Oh, she’s sexy as hell, I’d probably do terrible things to her.” When L______ shows up, I have a more graphic thought than that but she makes a couple of kind of weird jokes that make me debate my initial judgment. The night goes on, everyone mingles, et cetera.

This is undeniably the most important part of the story. I’m fully aware that the previous sentence is the shittiest piece of foreshadowing ever written, but I’m not writing this like literature, I’m writing this like real life. I was fully aware of hearing L drop a “A-[something, maybe an “Alex] and I finally had sex!” That was also when my douchebag-type off-switch flipped:  “Finally” means a new boyfriend and the exciting hand motions she’s making probably mean she’s enjoying continued sex with A[-something], thus she’s most likely not on the market, no longer interested.

More talking happens then we all move downstairs. We all play some games, catch up, laugh, what have you. The hostess, as per party plan, decides it’s time to go to a gay bar. I’m a little terrified because everyone’s talking about the last lesbian bar party where the women had more testosterone than present company (5-ish dudes) combined. These ladies threatened other women in line for the bathroom, and called dibs on the straight women. Like half the party decides to go home. I notice I’m one of two dudes that has decided not to go home.

We take a minivan cab over with six girls and two dudes. It’s incredibly awkward because the birthday girl is in the navigator’s seat, three girls are on captain’s chairs and I’m on the back seat splitting up one of the girls and a pair of cousins (boy/girl). I’m pretty much sitting on a dude and a girl. I start cracking jokes because the cousins are speaking to each other in Spanish (I catch most of it, they’re talking about their family) and everyone else is silent. I honestly don’t know how or why it comes up, but for some reason I reference this Louis C.K. joke where he talks about how pretty vaginas are. The cab goes silent. I find out later, the only lesbian there was the birthday girl and the other dude is gay (I couldn’t tell because he was European and shit–he dances with his cousin like he’s not). But of course the birthday girl wanted a fist pound so I was figured, “Schmeh, the most important person at the party liked it, I win.”

A few jokes later we get into the bar, L and I dance a little bit and there’s some flirting. The place is kind of dead and the birthday girl suggests going to another gay bar in Manhattan. Subliminally, “Yep, fuck it.” This is a two-parter: a. basic improvisational comedy mandates that you agree to everything (“Yes, and…”) and 3. I’m flirting with a girl who has boobs I like. Thus, the whole subliminal thought is more like, “Yep, fuck it. I’ll go because flirting with L will still be fun.” For some reason I my douchebag-type off-switch had flipped into the on position and I’d forgotten she had a boyfriend.

Everyone takes a smoke break (I get it, you’re all cooler than I am.) and we catch a minivan. We catch a red minivan with a babyseat in one of the captain’s chairs. While the birthday girl’s negotiating with driver of said red minivan with dentmarks and a babyseat, important character M______ and I make fun of how this guy is not a cab and how there’s a babyseat in one of the captain’s chairs. Two of the cute girls who were probably most offended by things I said about vaginas decide to leave. Huge loss because they seemed really nice and like we had similar interests (books, making fun of me). Honestly, they seemed great but if they didn’t like the jokes, then I’m glad the left. (Love you, miss you.)

Obviously, we decide to get in. I’m mostly focused on letting all the girls get in first but L is the only other person besides me. I get in before her so she have to sit in the babyseat. The cab driver offers no explanation “remove the chair like this” explanation so I do the, “Oh, what do I do, there’s a babychair here” dance. The “cab driver” tells me to  “Just put the arm up.” So I start putting up the babychair arm up because I have no idea what the fuck he’s talking about–there’s a babychair where I should be sitting.

We start driving and I start feeling up L. Apparently, it’s on. She is my type. I want in and I’m calling dibs. At one point there’s so much groping and pinching that our “cab driver” turns around to remind us that we’re in his family car. The family car. So we tone it down, but there’s still a lot of rubbing, groping and pinching, despite our “family driver’s” warnings. She even steals my bracelet. Honestly, I might not have taken that thing off at any time during my last relationship. L literally has it on the whole night after that. More incredibly inappropriate things ensue, to the point that I hear the Spanish kids calling us out–in English, no less. Obviously if everyone in the “cab” knows it’s on, it’s Donkey Kong, right?

We get out of the cab and I have another subliminal insight: “Location change, things have changed.” We get on line and the doorman tells the gay dude, “No, you can’t come in, you’re not gay.” M and I lock eyes and she says, “You’re so not getting in.” “Holy shit, I just spent 40 minutes flirting with a girl, what the fuck am I going to do?” “I guess I could hang out with you out here…”

For some reason the doorman lets me in. I guess flirting with girls is the new gay. L’s been babysitting birthday girl since we got out of the cab. (Bad subliminal insight #2: I’m no longer in physical contact with L.) We go in, we dance. I don’t really know how I pulled off such tomfoolery, but at the end of the night the female cousin compliments me on the moves that I break out between my 1-and-2-and-1-and-2 dance I base off a salsa class I once took. I don’t look around much because this bar is way more packed than the last one and I think I might be one of two dudes. So I’m the straight guy at a very gay bar who just got done flirting with a girl. The babysitting, 1-and-2-and-1-and-2 dance and trying to avoid fights with(this isn’t racialist, right?) most-likely imaginary bull-dykes that I don’t want to make eye contact with happens for easily an hour and a half. Everyone’s tired and my long-sleeved rugby shirt feels like chain mail. Heavy rugby fabric, long sleeves: good summer decision.

Some dude walks up while everyone’s on a smokebreak to ask for a smoke. M and I do not smoke, we just smoke bitches at beer pong: he ignores us because he’s macking on L. He calls L and the birthday girl “gorgeous ladies” while M and I make fun of literally every sentence he makes. He’s not more than five feet away and every sentence is a terrible fail: one of the girls is a lesbian and I called dibs on the other in a “cab” earlier. Ass. He leaves and M’s like “Step up, claim what’s yours.” L makes a phone call. I ask the birthday girl, “She has a boyfriend, doesn’t she.” “Yep.”

I reclaim my bracelet and the birthday girl goes, “Wait, when did this happen?” to which I reply,”You don’t want to know.” Silly navigator’s seat. I walk off, huge grin on my face for at least 30 minutes seemingly for no reason at all.

It turns out that 40 minutes of flirting>1.5 hours of lesbian bar dancing. Oh, the things I’ll do for women.

I think Tweets might be the most frustrating thing in my life right now. I always write the perfect tweet, only to find out the counter’s at -2. “Seriously? We couldn’t just round up a bonus five characters? This one’s perfect.” So I’ll sit there and rewrite it, check the counter and see it’s down to -1. The only thing running through my head is a slipstream of eff-bombs. I’ll think about what my boss said about tweets (“Tweets are a throwaway thing”) and just hit enter, come back two minutes later like, “Wait. Wait. I said what?” The next logical step of course is to delete the whole tweet and start from the beginning. “Maybe a hashtag this time.” (My boss said they’re passe and I’m worried that’s one of the main reasons I find them hilarious.)

I try to spread them out, keep it 30% self-promotional, 20% promoting stuff I like and 50% jokes. Yes, the latter category overlaps both and I also made up all of those statistics, but of course it all just feels like me douching up the internet. I spend equal amounts of time reading tweets from the people I follow and my tweets re-tweeted (I currently have five re-tweets). I feel like John Nash, dashing back to my re-tweets to  find the pattern in pure, unadulterated randomness and to see if someone has re-tweeted something I just wrote. I do this because they are my saving grace, my friends telling me, “Hey, everyone else, here are some examples of my friend Chris not sucking at Twitter. I hope he makes more of these ones, too. The rest are weird.”

Full Albums:

  • The Afghan Whigs, 1965 and Unbreakable (A Retrospective)
  • The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die
  • Lupe Fiasco, Enemy of the State
  • Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • Ladyhawke, Ladyhawke
  • Gorillaz, Gorillaz
  • Earth Wind & Fire, Greatest Hits
  • Warren Zevon, Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon

Random Quality Jumpoffs:

  • Sly and the Family Stone, “Sing a Simple Song”
  • TV on the Radio, “DLZ”
  • Calvin Harris, “The Girls”
  • Raekwon, “Canal Street”
  • Cream, “I Feel Free”
  • Jimi Hendrix, “Long Hot Summer Night”
  • The Roots, “Get Busy (Feat. Dice Raw & Peedi Peedi)”
  • M.I.A. “XXXO (Remix Feat. Jay-Z)”
  • Muse, “Map of the Problematique”
  • Wu Tang vs. The Beatles, “Uh huh”

I went out to Borough Park to hang out with my friend’s pop yesterday. I wholeheartedly endorse this: his dad made me Fillet Mignon, lightly buttered rice, grilled potatoes and asparagus. When he asked us to leave at 8:30 so his wife could get ready to sleep for work the next day, I was completely satisfied. Quality food, quality music1, quality people. Call it a night, right? No. Let’s go to The Bronx.

So we take the train all the way up to the Bronx, something like a two hour affair. My friend told me on the way up there were a couple of dudes making fun of me because I was white and obviously did not belong where they were going but they shut up when they saw I was going to The Bronx. (Street Cred +1.)

The real warning sign probably happened before the whole train event began: my friend calls his friends, tells them to get the goons because we’re heading to the block. They respond, “Why, you got beef? It’s on?” Dangerous already but he asks me on the train ride, “Why is it that every time you wanna hang out with someone, it’s always beef?” My answer: “I don’t know man, we come from very different cultures. When I call up my friends, it’s more like, ‘Hey man, I’m coming over, wanna play Halo?'” (Street Cred-1.)

I meet his friends and I know the handshakes2, but I start to notice weird little things (Street Cred +1). Everyone is wearing two white shirts (undershirt and white shirt) or a red shirt3. And here I am, second-grade level Spanish, whiteness, black rim glasses, bright orange shirt and a fucking moustache. If there’s not a cop car driving by, there’s a paddy wagon parked on the corner. Or I’m the cop talking to your friends–look at my moustache. At any given time, there’s a dude looking me up and down like my badge is taped to my exposed kneecap. (Street Cred-1.) My friend used to be a Blood and he did time for some stuff he did for them, but still as the night goes on, even he’s like, “Let’s walk the other way.” (Street Cred -1.)

We’re walking up to some neighborhood where there are suddenly a ton of people. We walk past a game of dice in a courtyard that’s lit from above with what seem to be spotlights. A sign next to the courtyard says something like, “An NYPD Clear Hallway Zone: Strictly Enforced.” He’s not even sure, but it seems like one of his friends went in there. He alternates between, “Listen, if you want to go at any time, just let me know” and “No, we’re not going in there.” There’s just this giant fist clenching my ribcage, like God’s saying, “Don’t tempt fate, just go home.” Most of the jokes my friend and I make with each other revolve around my will and how my sister should get all my stuff. (Street Cred -2.)

One of his friends tries to get us “Nutcrackers.” This is actually something I still want to experience although they do kind of terrify me.4 It’s essentially a Long Island Iced Tea in a juice bottle. Maybe you could say it’s a Long Island Iced Tea when you’re neither on an island nor willing to drink something with the words “Iced Tea” in it. He says they’re called Nutcrackers because they “get you fucked up,” but I think a more dangerous explanation is more like they’re frequently the thing that will make someone snap. So the point remains: the Nutcracker man left a while before we got there and we talk about his friend’s necklace–it’s got his son’s face on it. Because he was stabbed to death.

A little later my friend and I talk more about the guy; it turns out earlier in the night (just one of the many moments that escaped me) the guy, let’s say J, had been happily conversing with a guy, let’s say M. My friend had been confused at the time because back in the day M had stabbed J’s brother, scarring his face. J had then shot M. The things said when M was gone mostly revolved around “Forgiven but not Forgotten.” It wasn’t really conveyed as a threat considering how J was clearly mourning his son, but at the same time, there’s definitely an indication that this could easily be an excuse for continued violence at a later date. (Last sentence: Street Cred-2.)

So I finally say, “I think I want to go home now.” We walk to the train station, talk about my friend’s life as a teen in the area, life in a gang and I run up the subway stairs when he says, “Uh, maybe you should walk a little faster now.” A large group of kids is crossing the street and by the time we’re swiping into the subway, there’s a loud set of three pops. He tells me “Oh, someone just got shot,” but I’m pretty sure a car backfired or someone hit a pair of shoes on the ground to get dirt off of them. I refuse to believe someone got shot just because a bunch of kids just walked by. (Street Cred -1.)

I’m back on the subway and I’m listening to my iPod (my friend went home, deeper into The Bronx) and I had been listening to Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele on the way into Brooklyn. I think I only got through one song before I felt the fist on my chest again–I couldn’t listen to it anymore. And there might not be a bad song on that album, I just literally thought to myself, “I need some white people music right now.” So I popped on The Afghan Whigs’ 1965 as though it weren’t inspired entirely by R&B, voodoo, rap and blues. And for some reason it made me feel better. (Street Cred-1.)

What I’ve learned:

As much as I enjoy rap music, there is a gigantic disconnect between it and who I am. I’m glad there are people who can do it and live it but I cannot. It also turns out that another reason I cannot endorse drug use–for me at least, I don’t give a shit if you do–is because I cannot endorse the gang violence frequently associated with it. Kids shouldn’t get stabbed for something that’ll maybe elevate you above life’s suck for two hours. (J’s kid might not have been stabbed for a drug thing, but when I asked my friend why he was killed [Street Cred/Tact-1], my friend said, “Probably a drug thing.”) So my feelings about rap music have transformed thusly: I will continue listening, but I will most likely drift in a less violent direction5 because it’s that much more real for me; experiencing another lifestyle is cool but, right now, I have a new rap threshold because this shit just got real. And for those of you keeping score, my Street Cred Total for this trip was -8; yes, I’m still white.

1. Guns & Roses, The Eagles, The Four Tops, The Doobie Brothers, Eurythmics, Smokey Robinson, and so on. The only stuff released post-1990 was probably Aventura.
2. Simple stuff, open palm into a four-finger grab, etc. Man stuff.
3. Yes, everyone is a Blood.
4. Choose-your-own Bronx metaphor goes here.
5. Maybe less Wu-Tang, more Tribe Called Quest. For the moment, anyway. Walk it off.

Full Albums:

  • The Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique
  • Empire of the Sun, Walking on a Dream
  • Fall Out Boy, Infinity on High
  • Free Energy, Stuck on Nothing
  • Gorillaz, Plastic Beach
  • The Hold Steady, Heaven is Whenever
  • Kings of Leon, Only by the Night
  • Ladyhawke, Ladyhawke
  • Ludacris, Chicken & Beer
  • Rage Against the Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles
  • The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St. (Deluxe Edition)
  • Taking Back Sunday, Tell All Your Friends and Where You Want to Be (This seemed like a good band to accompany Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, what with all the war and love at first sight.)
  • The-Dream, Love Hate
  • Three 6 Mafia, Most Known Unknown
  • The Ting Tings, We Started Nothing
  • TV on the Radio, Dear Science

Random Excellence:

  • Otis Redding, “Hard to Handle”
  • Warren Zevon, “Interlude No. 1/Play It All Night Long”
  • Miley Cyrus, “Party (& Bullshit) in the USA (Remix feat. Notorious B.I.G.)”
  • Gym Class Heroes, “Clothes Off!!”
  • Justice, “New Jack”

Full Albums:

  • The Afghan Whigs, Unbreakable (A Retrospective)
  • Audioslave, Audioslave
  • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Beat the Devil’s Tattoo
  • The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound
  • The Hold Steady, Heaven is Whenever
  • Jay-Z, Hard Knock Life, Vol. 2
  • Joe Bonamassa, The Ballad of John Henry
  • Julian Casablancas, Phrazes for the Young
  • Justice, Cross
  • LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening! (Hit and miss–“Dance Yrself Clean” is a good metaphor for the album. Your first listen is like, “What the hell is going on here, Mr. Murphy?” Then you hit the halfway mark and you’re like, “Oh, I see what you did there. I love all of this now.” Plus, “All I Want” sounds like Bowie’s “Heroes,” so that’s always good.)
  • Matisyahu, Light (Got my hopes way up for this one, relatively okay)
  • Passion Pit, Manners
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
  • The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St. (Deluxe Edition)
  • Van Halen, Diver Down and 1984
  • Warren Zevon, Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon
  • The xx, xx

Random Excellence:

  • Ghostface Killah, “Shakey Dog”
  • Saves the Day, “The Last Lie I Told”
  • Kelly Clarkson, “Impossible”
  • Ladyhawke, “Magic”
  • The Raconteurs, “Top Yourself”

Songs of the Week:

These are songs that I would actually stop listening to other music for. I’d be, say, three songs deep in Method Man’s Tical and think, “Nope, not feeling it. Time to dance myself clean again.”

  • Animal Collective, “My Girls
  • LCD Soundsystem, “Dance Yrself Clean”
  • Julian Casablancas, “11th Dimension
  • Warren Zevon, “Lawyers, Guns and Money”

Plot Summary: Two friends take a seven hour tour of things they both like in the city, working mostly from east to west, then back to the center.

Character List: Chris and B_____. Minor characters include B_____’s Boyfriend and C______ P______ (through discussion and excellence), the dude with the crystal ball, a gorgeous redhead, annoying men in Washington Square Park who wear checkered pants and yell countdowns a lot and for no cool noticeable reason, Chris and B_____’s cellphones.

Locations: Penelope. Crocodile Lounge. The High Line. Greenwich Village. Washington Square Park.

Themes: “Best Day Ever.” “I didn’t even have to use my AK.” “Boobies!” “I still can’t believe that girl happened.” (After looking down shirts on The High Line, we saw a beautiful girl. It turned out up close, she was actually gorgeous.) “What do you want to do next?” Child-like awe of everything (“That view/staircase/gelato is amazing.”) Foursquare Training (She went from 0 badges to 3 with my help). Wind (subway, taxi, etc.) blows friend’s dress up, Chris averts eyes. “Don’t pay with that.” (Photos from Crocodile Lounge’s Photobooth.) The Future (we’re both un-gainfully employed, pursuing arty-type careers so we mapped out dream situations.)

Key Facts: New York City has over eight million people in it. So I showered when I got home.

Analysis: Definitely should have been less eager to try out new skinny jeans in 80+ weather: shorts would have been a good decision.

Quiz: Is Raekwon’s “Canal Street” applicable to this story at all? (No. What the hell are you talking about? It’s just where they keep them whateva whatevas, na’mean?)

Suggestions for Further Reading: Ulysses, James Joyce. Because Bloomsday just ended. And because I enjoy going on odysseys with friends.