so tonight that i might see

i was fortunate that josh emailed me to let me know last thursday night was the first nyc photobloggers meetup. since getting ocular spectra started last year and then going to the photobloggers2 event at the apple store last september, i've been curious to put some faces and names to the urls and great pictures i've come to know.

this took place at a bar called the magician. the first person i met was keith of overshadowed. until recently when things have been a bit busier for me, i've hit his site with awestruck regularity since his presentation at the apple store. he does a lot of photoshop work on a lot of his shots, but this enhances rather than diminishes his art. most of his photos make new york city into the beautifully dark sci-fi nightmare it must look like to tourists. we had a great discussion about letting the medium of the camera be a part of the picture.

next i met rion, who was jokingly referred to as "the ringleader" (she was the main organizer and mc at the photobloggers event). i was flattered she actually remembered my site. like keith, her work is very crisp and clear, though she seems to shoot a wider variety of subjects and has a more naturalistic approach. of course my favorite shots are the ones that aren't set up but look like they could have been, but her pictures also show a level of professionalism that belies the supposed "amateur" nature of photoblogs.

as i was talking to rion, running out the door turned out to be another favorite of mine, mike of satan's laundromat. he has a great eye for urban decay, which is one of my favorite shooting subjects. his chief interest seems to be signage, often humorous and/or ironic. i also respect him for having been through a hellish ordeal of being one of those unfairly arrested at the RNC last summer. he was, to the best of my knowledge, wrongfully detained at pier 57 in horrible conditions for over 24 hours and has pictures to tell the tale.

i also breifly chatted with adam of tozzer.net, whose work i wasn't familiar with, but i like now i've had a chance to check it out.

in need of something to soak up the booze we'd been consuming, we passed on one of my ludlow st. favorites, rush hour, because there were too many of us. we ended up at katz' deli, where i caused a minor stir by temporarily losing my meal ticket.

i sat with gene (who took the lovely shot of the chairs at katz' above) and lil, briefly discussing our different focuses in our work, since they have very different styles from me. they were both highly intelligent and pleasant. liz also impressed me with her knowledge of things japanese, an interest of mine that's been bubbling under for the past few years.

there were more people there, like martin and nick rhodes (no relation), but i didn't get a chance to speak to them. it was a nice laid-back time that made me anticipate the next photobloggers event in june even more.

the title of this post comes from an album by mazzy star.


move along now, nothing to see

i wasn't especially looking forward to the autechre show on may 8, since electronic shows in places bigger than a lounge have had somewhat mixed results in my opinion (although i did enthuse about the kid606 show i saw). to me, autechre's music is headphone music. but between ben and bianca's coaxing and a few decent reviews on the idm list, i opted to give it a fair shot.

dj rob hall was surprisingly better than my expectations (which were zero since i'd heard nothing). the music was so clean and the beatmatching so seamless, you'd have had no idea he was spinning records. he made ben and i happy with a good amount of dark trance, spun in two different sets (the second of which was amazingly hypnotic). he also went with some detroit-like electro and harder beats. it's kind of a blur now, but a good blur. not an alcohol-induced one though; the drinks at webster hall were so expensive i stayed dry. however, the monumental sound system lived up to its reputation.

snd were also a good warm-up choice for autechre since both bands share the "never let the beat drop" tendency. snd favored textures that sounded like tech-house, but chopped them up incessantly so there was never a regular beat to be heard for a full measure. except for a few uninteresting bits, i enjoyed their set.

the openers at least had some kind of lights. autechre opted for near-total darkness. only the bar, the exit signs, and the glow of their own gear lit the main floor. i have to say i thought their first 9 minutes were boring. they pummeled us with tired kick and snare beats that anyone could have done. we had to strain to hear anything other than those two sounds.

then suddenly counter-rhythms came in, other elements dropped out, and for the next hour we were in a click-and-glitch-filled heaven. there might have been elements from various recorded songs used, but it mainly seemed like one giant long flowing improv set. although they had no show whatsoever, the music was engaging enough to keep people twitching and head-bobbing in all directions. some brave souls even danced. each new sonic variation sent the crowd into ecstatic whoops, and the careful introduction of sub-bass notes from time to time was used to devastating effect.

while i think a lightshow of some kind might have made things more interesting overall, another part of me can't help but think anything visual would have distracted from the intricacy of autechre's compositions and sounds. as it was, i was transported back into my headphones. except i was in a room full of people, and the headphones were wall-mounted and better than anything i could afford.

the title of this post comes from officer barbrady on south park.


phenomena at the height of their popularity

this past weekend was hugely anticipated by me. besides the adult. show friday, saturday and sunday brought a type of joy i haven't had for over 3 years: fresh laughs from the family guy, which i've already enthused about here before.

last summer my best friend actually sold his devo tickets (one of his favorite bands), to go see family guy live as part of the montreal comedy festival on the same date. obviously this kind of devotion made enough of an impression that they decided to do it again in los angeles and nyc. all shows sold out, even at fairly high ticket prices. though my wallet wasn't happy, i knew i'd be sorry if i missed it.

the town hall is an odd venue for comedy, or maybe i just think so because my first show there was dead can dance in 1993. it had to be expensive for them to get. they also had to pay the stagehands, the director and cameramen, get a giant screen and sound system, and probably pay the 8 people onstage a little something.

after a brief announcement, they played "stewie's sexy party video" which you can see a clip of under the live in vegas section of "multimedia" on the official site. this was unfortunately marred by sound so bad i couldn't make out 3/4 of the lyrics. fortunately, the soundman turned up the volume and clarity by the time of the main show.

creator seth mcfarlane came out first, introducing the rest of the cast. executive producer david goodman had the thankless job of reading all the stage directions, followed by danny smith, who not only does a lot of good supporting cast voices, but is the originator of the mock-rage expression that gave birth to the infamous evil monkey. writer steve callaghan's best reason for being there was doing the midget's creepy dance from twin peaks. but mike henry was the night's secret weapon. he has one of the funniest faces ever, especially when gearing up to do one of his perfectly placed voices, especially dirty old man herbert.

all of the cast so far had cups of booze in their hands, except for smith who walked on raising a six-pack of coors light (to which one audience member did a joe swanson impression and bellowed "silver bullet!"). seth green topped him by entering with a glass of red wine and then having a stagehand bring him the whole bottle during the performance. mila kunis was inexplicably howled at various times during the night by a distinctly neanderthal chorus whom i would have assumed would be too dumb to get half the jokes on this show, but i guess they like the gutter humor. this element of course increased that night due to it not being on television as seth green admitted, "it's like third grade up here," but it was hilarious. alex borstein was a bit more risqué in general and appreciated the attention, while taking it with a grain of salt. when one man shouted "alex, you're hot!" she said, "that's really sweet, but you may be a closeted homosexual. those are the type of men who usually think i'm 'hot'."

the cast read through the classic episode "to live and die in dixie," which is one of my favorites. between the stage directions, ad-libbing, and audience reactions, the half-hour script was doubled or tripled in length, to everyone's delight. hecklers who crossed the line (mostly at mila's expense) were dealt with in brilliant form by one of the two seths ("you do realize you're in public, don't you? we're not just hanging around at your house while you're in your underwear"). in addition, mcfarlane and borstein came out front and performed a song from the just-released soundtrack cd.

then mcfarlane announced that the fans had "waited long enough" to see new material and introduced the first act of the first new episode. someone shouted out "i saw it on the internet," which prompted seth too look up with a brilliantly-timed mixture of sheepishness and mild annoyance. "yes, well...for the rest of the people...who were probably out that night...." as brian or stewie might say, ba-zinnng.

the whole thing ended up with a question-and-answer session which had predictably mixed success. the queries ranged from simple and uninteresting to really good, to outright vile (the last most often directed once again at mila kunis). it's one thing if a performer chooses to make sexual innuendo a part of their own schtick - for example, both mcfarlane and borstein willingly participated in visual sexual jokes on the split screen with seth green. on the other hand, kunis has always clearly seemed a little uptight and prudish in her public persona, and although she's not the greatest actor or voice artist, people should respect certain lines that shouldn't be crossed. fortunately, the others were able shift the focus back to comedy. it was a great night and money well spent.

even better, this was on the eve of the season 4 premiere. the first act, which i saw saturday, was hilarious, leaving no room for disappointment (including the expected dig at fox for cancelling them). the rest of the show was funny too, although not on the same level. the shows are usually appreciated with repeated viewings, as the reruns and dvd sales proved. i look forward to the next 34 weeks. it turns out some of the people involved in the show keep their own blog, so lovers of ephemeral minutiae can visit there often.

the title of this post comes from a hilariously overlong shredding given to another character by stewie.


adult entertainment

context may not be everything, but it comes close. this theory was put to the test on friday at the adult. show at mercury lounge.

a few years ago, repeated mentions of their name along with the words "punk" and "electro," prompted me to check their website out. their raw, simplistic, underground, staunchly analog synthetic sound appealed to me right away. this was the part of the 80's mostly being ignored in the mainstream version of that decade's revival. it reminded me of a few of the darker tracks on my battered used copy of the some bizarre album. their striking DIY graphics and tongue-in-cheek photography also gave notice this was all part of a sort of postpunk art-school concept that had to be taken as gestalt.

however, when i got their first CD anxiety always, i was slightly disappointed. all the elements seemed to be there but the energy and interest were difficult to sustain for an entire album. still, tracks like "glue your eyelids together" (which has a great visual that goes along with it) and "blank eyed nose bleed" ("wouldn't it be nice to go to a party and be the only one there") appealed to my sick sense of humor. the buzzing monophonic synthesizers and cheap drum machines were making the kind of racket i liked as well. so i gave them another shot with their collection of singles and compilation tracks, and this time i was much better rewarded. so when i heard they were playing in nyc again i asked bianca if she was going, and got a "hell yes." ben snapped up a ticket on spec, but sadly they were sold out before angel or seze could get theirs. somehow nelly got in at the last minute; i never understand when this happens and i think it's unfair. is it sold out or not?

bianca was jazzed about openers gold chains with sue cie, so i checked out their website. i was instantly put off by the music. one out of three available clips was okay underground dance-rock, but the others were just not my kind of thing at all. i arrived at the club just as they were doing their last song. it was somewhat close to the track i liked (it may have even been that song), and i think they had a good energy that pumped up the crowd. they seem to be good at what they do, i'm just not fond of what they do.

adult. came on and looked pretty much as i expected: art school grad punks in black thrift shop clothes. anyone who says synth/drum machine-based shows always feature static or lazy performers should see adult. i admit they were not a visual and performing extravaganza, but they certainly were working what they had. vocalist nicola had to strike a balance between her dispassionate, siouxsie-meets-xmal deutschland delivery and keeping the crowd entertained. she settled on a disturbed, somewhat glazed grin punctuated by roaming eyes, demented stage stalking, and finger-pointing. the bassist seemed to be competing with 80's metal guitarists for "widest leg spread," although peter hook has him beat for lowest-slung axe. both he and the guitarist also had modest racks of analog synths and vintage effects boxes as well as the ubiquitous laptop for basic tracks. they clearly were making 90% of the music though, sweating as they changed up their catalogue in subtle ways.

the show definitely was more about preaching to the converted, although they denied the shouted requests for fan favorite "nausea". but for every familiar track, people erupted into furious pogoing, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. the sound was dead-on too, which is rare for this kind of band if the music's not all on playback.

i'm not sure what i'd have thought if i'd never heard their records or gotten into what i perceive as their whole schtick before seeing this show. i certainly liked a bunch of the songs i'd never heard before, but i think i had my ears ready for them. i concurred with ben's murmured assessment that night that they are a fairly monochromatic band, however nelly agreed with me that that's kind of the point. as a former art student myself, i can appreciate the use of a limited palette. a crappy beatbox, a bassline, a little dissonant guitar and synthetic squelches with tuneless vocals; what more do you need? how much more "we are punk so fuck off" can you get without becoming an unintentional caricature? the answer seems to be, create the caricature ahead of time and let everyone in on the joke. works for me.

the post title's play on words was used on one of the band's releases.