Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I, dear reader, have made the big time.

This article was written by a former co-worker and is running on a webzine right now. Pay close attention to the end of the 4th paragraph. Oh SNAP! indeed! I won't even bother giving you the link, but here's the text:

The National "Alligator" (Beggars Banquet)
By Robert Cleves
Monday. Sep 19, 2:06 AM
Flacid crooning ruins an otherwise instrumentally well executed album.

I remember listening to an advance copy of this record back in March while on the way back home on the W train. After listening to three songs, I quickly dug into my bag for my copy of Obituary’s Slowly We Rot. Five months later, nothing has changed.

Alligator, the third studio recording from the Brooklyn-via-Cincinnati quintet, features Matt Berninger’s pseudo-Leonard Cohen baritone voice with two sets of brothers playing Tindersticks meets Echo And The Bunnymen-type music, full of brooding, transparent melodies and no hooks.

“Secret Meeting,” with its engaging guitar strumming, off-beat drumming, and interesting atmospherics, gets Alligator off to a promising start, but then is ruined by Berninger’s self-deprecating, monotone and conversational talk-singing. The cheese factor in the lyrical department throughout the album reaches Ben Gibbard-like levels with gems like “didn't anybody tell you how to gracefully disappear in a room?”, "serve me the sky with a big slice of lemon, you had a permanent piece of my medium-sized American heart,” and “it's a common fetish for a doting man to ballerina on the coffee table cock in hand.” Talk about trying too hard! Keep that drag-queen cock-in-hand stuff to yourself, brother.

With his “a shot of whiskey with my can of Pabst”-like poetry, Berninger talk-sings his hardest in order to sway you into believing that he has something interesting to say, but ends up getting on your nerves like that Polo shirt wearing dude who comes to shows alone looking for friends. Before you know it, you’re weaving through the crowd like a crazy man, trying to lose him because apparently he’s got infrared vision and he won’t stop telling you how AWESOME Interpol’s Antics is. All of the “I’m so sorry for everything”s on “Baby, We’ll Be Fine” are pathetic. Berninger can apologize all he wants, but it won’t bring back my three and a half minutes that I wasted listening to his pathetic song. “We’re Out Looking For Astronauts” is the type of ditty you’d make up in your head to keep yourself from throwing up on the cab ride home after a good night of drinking. At least that kind of shitty poetry is all in good fun – and alcohol induced. “Karen” is dreary, limp, and almost as annoying as Sujan from Matador not returning e-mails or phone calls. SNAP!

Berninger’s flaccid crooning and “I’m drunk, I’m sorry, and I miss you”s are the Achilles’ Heel of an otherwise instrumentally well executed and wonderfully produced album that in the end, falls flat on it’s face. “I’m so sorry for everything.”

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Park Slope Gastronome #13 - West Coast Baseball Trip Day 2

Our first full day in El Aye begins with a trip to Japantown. The area is filled with modest, well cared-for ranch style homes, but due to its low crime rate and overall pleasantry, the houses go for over a million dollars. Crazy! Of course my need to check out this area has nothing to do with real estate, but everything to do with visiting the Giant Robot stores. The store is an offshoot of an Asian American lifestyles magazine of the same name. I've been a fan for some time now. When I last visited Los Angeles around 2002, there existed but one store. It's since expanded to include another store across the street (GR2), a restaurant (GR Eats), a shop across town (GR Silverlake) and outlets in San Francisco and New York (GRSF and GRNY, respectively). It's safe to say the robots are doing all right. I must say, I was on my absolute best behavior at the stores and only purchased a couple sheets of stickers, a Relax Bear mini-diorama and a Japanese book about chewing gum wrapper graphic design. Stop laughing.

On the way back from shopping, we hit the Apple Pan in West LA, a city institution since 1947, serving quality forever! This is the kind of place that you live for. It's a u-shaped counter with stools all around. It's also free form, first come, first serve, making the seating situation a bit hectic. After a short wait, our party of six managed to secure 5 seats together. The ladies (myself and Jen) were allowed to sit first, so it was us who got to initially witness the ketchup magic. We both ordered Hickory Burgers with cheddar cheese and french fries. The fries were up first - a golden, crispy mass of half inch thick potato joy strips. Our server put out two paper plates made of recycled gray pulp and deftly poured ketchup onto both using a bottle in each hand. As we munched on the fries and made our way through the initial serving of ketchup, our guy came over, saw that our ketchup supply had dwindled and promptly refilled. Judging by the eyes I'm giving our server, the experience was magical! Then it was time for the burgers! We all opted for the Hickory with cheese, except for Balgavy who has an aversion to cheese that is not found on pizza. But come to think of it he ordered the plain burger, not even the Hickory, so I don't know what to tell you. The mounds of happiness came snuggled in their own little white paper wrapper. The burgers were juicy with a pile of crisp lettuce acting as a good counterpart to the mush created by the melting cheese and ketchup. I made a mess. The consensus was that this was a fantastic burger, except for Balgavy, but like I mentioned, all he got a regular burger, plain. Beef and bun as he likes to call it. I believe it's a decision he still rues to this day.

Unfortunately, we didn't have enough room for a slice of their famous apple pie. I could see a wall of them through a window inside the restaurant and they seemed to be about 2 feet high. No kidding.

That evening we hit Angels Stadium in the OC to watch a game between the ridiculous named Anaheim Angles of Los Angeles and the Boston Red Sox. Wow, talk about boring fans. The Red Sox fans made mince meat of the Orange County snoozers. While the boys were taking pictures of the flair outside the stadium, I had to rush in cause of course I had to use the ladies' room because I suffer from SABS (small Asian bladder syndrome). I am not sure if this is a real disease or if I am the only case of this existing. After emptying, I took a tour of the stadium to figure out where I wanted to get my dinner. I had nearly walked the full perimeter of the stadium when it appeared. The line was surprisingly short, although once I got in line, I realized there was a terrible glare off the concession window that made it nearly impossible to look at the cashier. After some debate, I decided on the hot Italian beef with jus. It came with a side of crunchy barbecue chips. The meat was dripping with drippings, but it was a nice alternative to a hot dog. This would be the first of many times I would double beef in a day on the trip.

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Donn Clendenon, RIP

The MVP of the 1969 World Series has passed away at age 70.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Park Slope Gastronome #12 - West Coast Baseball Trip Day 1

The unthinkable has happened and I have fallen in love with the city of Los Angeles. My first two trips there were relatively underwhelming, leaving me wondering what people could possibly see in this sprawling city. But this time there was an emphasis on food, not the nouveau cuisine served in dim, trendy settings for vapid club hopping dumbasses and out of touch richies, but the food made by the people and for the people that are the pulse of this city - the working class, the immigrants, the regular joes.

Our first meal in the city came past midnight. We had been hoping to pass an In-n-Out from the airport to Dave and Jen's, but instead settled for Carl's Jr. Carl's Jrs are mostly found on the West Coast. I had my first taste on a trip to Hawaii about a decade ago. It was founded by a man named Carl and the franchise began as a hot dog cart. Eventually Carl's hot dog cart turned into a drive in, which in turn begat a smaller version, the Jr. Later in the week we even passed a couple Carl's Jr. Jr's, akin to Pizza Hut Expresses, I imagine, serving a condensed version of the menu.

While waiting for our turn at the drive-in, I was able to study part of the menu. It was only part because of the angle of the car and I didn't even learn about the fried zucchini until the order was placed, which in retrospect was probably a good thing. And this is also a place where instead of chicken nuggets, you get chicken stars! I wasn't really hungry, but am I not one to pass up a meal, so I settled on the Western Bacon Cheeseburger. It would fufill my bacon quota for the day, it was relatively small and the idea of two onion rings nestled between the charbroiled patty and sesame seed bun was too ingenius to pass up. I always like having sides. I don't like just having a burger. Or just an entree. I like having a salad or vegetables - something to break up the monotony of what you're eating. How perfect was this, I thought. I just wanted a little taste of a side and it already came with the package! Brilliant! The most remarkable thing about the burger was the staying power of the pleasing crunchy texture of the onion rings. I got crunch on my last bite and couldn't have asked for more.

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Friday, September 02, 2005

paper, rock, scissors

i've got a review of the recently reissued black mountain cd in the latest issue of PLANETº (#11, fashion), which has just hit newsstands. there's also a piece on OOIOO i wrote, but it was edited down and combined with another writer's piece. it's not credited so i don't feel that misrepresented, but it's a little weird anyhow knowing you wrote something, but it's not really yours.

today we got out of work early so i went to mid-town to run some errands. BIG MISTAKE. first, it smelled like poo all around herald square and second, no one in mid-town knows how to walk on the street. sometimes i found myself standing still on the sidewalk because the person to my left, my right and in front of me at standstills themselves. i did get a brief respite from the stank during a stop at lush. dan's cousin leah got us hooked on the stuff when she worked there. normally i do not like overly perfumed stores, but it was so much better being choked by soaps and bath bombs than the ripe, dirty concrete.

looks like everyone's gotten their baseball trip 2005 write ups and photos going. i have a long food diary planned (we ate sooo much good stuff and maybe i'll finish it over the long weekend if i don't get too distracted. maybe.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

i think know someone who can beat this record

this is terrible

fats domino, irma thomas and mrs. ernie k-doe are all missing in new orleans.

alex chilton is also missing, having given his car to a member of The Gories so she could leave town.