Monday, January 31, 2005


Iraq, this is what Democracy looks like.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


(V2 Record)

Woe is Moby. Lord knows it’s not easy being bald, vegan, and sensitive. Moby wears glasses, drinks a great deal of tea (even has his own line of herbal beverages), and was recently cruelly attacked for no apparent reason other than the fact that he’s Moby. But the man born Richard Melville Hall has always acknowledged his inner-wimp faster than you could say, “how much do I get paid for the use of my song in a commercial?” In fact on the January 30th entry of his online journal (updated daily), Moby tells us that he’s “the first to admit that I’m not a tough guy.” His newest release, Hotel, proves just how accurate he is at making self-evaluations. With fourteen songs that start with “Raining Again” (sample lyric: “sadness like water/raining down”), continue with an ethereal cover of New Order’s “Temptation” and ends with “Homeward Angel,” a composition that would sound appropriate at a funeral, Hotel oozes with a synthetically-produced sensitivity not found since Haley Joel Osment’s android character in A.I. Eschewing his trademarked blues-flavored samples for his own vocals, Moby composes a whole album of music from scratch which is a truly bold move for the veteran New York DJ. The only slight problem is that Moby’s singing voice isn’t American Idol-worthy but his earnestness and authenticity attempt to compensate for that. While your vegan-bashing, bald-hating, coffee-drinking friends may find plenty to mock with Melville’s newest release, Moby means well. He wants nothing more than to truly move you and in a war-mongering world, that’s a valiant and admirable mission. Even if the aforementioned moving may be far away from his new album.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Albums that are now in rotation:
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead "Worlds Apart"
The Album Leaf "In A Safe Place"
Pinback "Summer In Abaddon"
Mia Doi Todd "Manzanita"
Stars "Set Yourself On Fire"
Green Day "American Idiot"
Regina Spektor "Soviet Kitsch"
Low "The Great Destroyer"
The Cure "Staring At The Sea"


Dude, MTA,

Seriously, like what's your deal? This C Train fiasco is so uncool and you so know it. Remember like a few years ago in September when the subway system was in total chaos mode and you guys totally pulled it together in like a few months. And this time...? A homeless guy with a lighter. For real? Some random begger that talks to himself and collects empty soda cans took us down? Is he really more powerful than Al Queda? Maybe we should send homeless people over to Iraq and this war would be over in no time.
Or maybe the next time I take the subway, I should keep my Duane Reade matches at home. I would hate the cripple the B line as well.
Yes, I know I'm being sarcastic and obnoxious. Sorry. I know it's uncalled for. I'm just so frustrated with you. I feel like the older you get, the more inefficient you are. Perhaps we should just abandon the C train altogether and invest our time in developing rocket-powered jet packs for everyone on Central Park West. Expense, shmexpense. This is Central Park West, baby. Most of us can afford them with the exception of the guys in my apartment but we'll chip in for one and share it. Like I'll have the jetpack on Thursday nights and Seth will have it on Monday mornings. What about Sundays? Who will get the jetpack then? Hmmm. That needs to be discussed. And can you use the jetpack after you've had a couple of drinks...? Well, it depends on whether the jetpack is on manual or automatic. Which reminds me to suggest that the jetpacks should have an automatic feature. Very important.
But I digress. MTA, get yr act together. C'mon now. I have my monthly pass. I'm committed to you. How come I don't feel the love? Why doesn't this seem mutual here?

Write me back when you have the chance. I know you're busy with warding off homeless people harnessing weapons of mass destruction, i.e. Zippo lighters. If you need some help, I think MacGuyver just came out on DVD and it's incredible inspiration for fixing stuff and creating stuff, etc.

Waiting for you,

Monday, January 24, 2005


There are three parts. Collect them all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Lemon Jelly
’64 – ‘95
(XL Recordings)

Smucker’s doesn’t make lemon jelly. Neither does Polaner. In fact, it seems the only way you can get lemon jelly is if you make it yourself. I know this to be true only because I just came back from the supermarket. Yes, I checked.
Coincidentally, in a time when mainstream electronic music seems both inspired by and written for commercials, the London duo, Lemon Jelly feels just as rare as the citrus preserve. Their newest disc, ’64 – ’95, a self-proclaimed “Best Of album from an alternate universe” is a playful collection of time-traveling psychedelictronica that straddles the fine line of sexy ambience and cartoon absurdity. Incorporating obscure samples, also known as “the bits [they] nicked,” the Jellies go further than your Fatboys and Mobys because their vibrant humor doesn’t require the assistance of a Christopher Walken or a Ron Jeremy to prove that they indeed have one (even though William Shatner cameos on the last track, “Go” but incredibly enough, it doesn’t feel kitschy). Oddly, the only unfortunate letdown on ’64 – ’95 is also the first single, “’74 aka Stay With You,” their most unimaginative song yet utilizing a Royksopp-by-numbers-kit birthing standard European catwalk fair. Lemon Jelly works best when they experiment with unconventional flavor like sampling the aging hard rockers Masters of Reality into “’79 aka The Shouty Track.”
Refreshingly, Lemon Jelly shows us that mainstream electronica doesn’t have to sound mass-produced and packaged and apparently, that’s the way it usually is with Lemon Jelly. – Arye Dworken

RIYL: Royksopp, Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx
File Under: Oh, Those Kooky British DJs

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Woody Allen - It seems that the aging director now sees his life as one long film entitled "Being Woody Allen," where every male acts and speaks like a nebbish, hypochondriac Jew. I had an epiphany the other night while watching his latest with Jason Biggs: this doesn't always have to be the case and in a situation such as the aforementioned (Christina Ricci? Was there an abundance of crack on the Upper East Side?), this already-beaten dead horse can sometimes bring fans one step closer to self-induced comas. Allen needs to create a main character that doesn't feel and taste like Wood. He should co-write a script with a young screenwriter that can inject some youthful optimism into his near-expiration-date cynicism.
Moreover, as he gets older and older, he should abandon his secret (or not-so-secret) desire to be a Grouch brother. When one gets to be his age, he should feel compelled to transmit wisdom and potency not slapstick and silliness. Take it from my grandfather. He sits there telling me how to live my life, not trying to bag Helen Hunt (although I don't know this for sure).

Perhaps someone needs to sit Allen down and make him watch Crimes & Misdemeanors, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah & Her Sisters...there's a reason why they are all timeless classics. Because they are rife with a seriously deep understanding of humans and their complex emotions. Oh, and because Jason Biggs isn't in them.

Ben Affleck - Stop dating girls named "Jennifer" for one. And then start looking at some scripts not involving Kevin Smith (see also Kevin Smith). Ben needs to find a role that makes him likable which is really hard because of all the damage done to his career by poor film choices. His next choice would have to be a dying cancer patient or...Gandhi. Hmmm, scratch that--both involve acting...Ben's screwed.

Mariah Carey - Acting sane would be one suggestion. Actually, that's the only suggestion I have. But bear in mind that Mariah trying to act sane is probably almost as hard as Ben Affleck just acting.

Ashlee Simpson - Being a doof is not cute. I know this from personal experience. It was cute, like, when we were ten. And granted she is closer to her first decade than I am, this needs to stop because people are getting hurt. There are millions of ears that are falling victim to musical genocide everyday (I mean, there is a song on her CD called "La La," as in "I like to la la." This just hurts) I'm pretty sure that when a football stadium full of people are booing you, this is the time to re-evaluate your career. And blaming your band for a life performance mix-up--how would Ashlee put it--is so truly lame.
Here's my suggestion. Don't go on tour now to prove that you can sing live. It's a horrible mistake especially considering Simpson swears she won't use backing vocals and supporting tracks. Sounding like a Pterodactyl will not sell more CDs. Staying at home and taking some time off to plot the Big Comeback is the way to go. Trust me. And if you don't just ask Debbie Gibson how she likes being a housewife.

Britney Spears - This one's easy. Ok, your priority for 2005 is to not get married again. Try, as hard as it may be, to stick with the class act you're hooked up with now.
My second piece of advice is to go the Mandy Moore route and grow up. Become the woman you're not yet and forget the girl part. Record some obscure covers or perhaps a classic rock cover like a David Bowie song or Stevie Wonder. How insane would it be to hear Britney throw down a synthesized Pavement track? Maybe that's pushing it but all I'm saying is that perhaps Bobby Brown was a poor choice in role models--look at his career. It revolves around which drug dealer is around that day.
Spears needs to hire an image consultant that will remind her to wear shoes in a public bathroom and to wear clothing in videos. Also, this kabbalah thing is a bit whack. Britney needs to distance herself from anything Paris Hilton is involved with.

Ali G - Bringing him up again; my grandfather once said, stop it. It's not funny anymore. Zaide was ever the wise one.
Sasha needs to create some new characters. The old ones are...well, old. Borat is as discreet as Lindsey Lohan's drinking problem. With his popularity and current HBO budget, I'm certain he can hire some new writers to brainstorm on some new secret identities like a wayward Hasidic Jew or a gay German fashion consultant.
This brilliance just comes to me. Honest. It just flows.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


You wake up and suddenly its two years later.

How did this happen?

Ask yourself something then wait for the answer. The answer never comes because it's not the sort of query that has a satisfactory response. You find yourself positing questions like this frequently. Especially nowadays when the weather fluctuates from high to low temperatures confusing you into checking your calendar for today's date.

The calendar confirms. Today is January 13th, two years to the day that my father passed away. It's no coincidence my writing has reflected his absence and the haunting return of him in my thoughts. It's that time of year. With this much perspective, with two years behind us, has anything change?

A lot of times, I think about what life would have been like if he had still been alive. I try and I try but ultimately I cannot comprehend it. This is a brain exercise beyond any semblance of reality. It's like imagining me with wings, you with gills, the world covered by polka-dotted waters. Life is as is and we've come to accept it. By not having something, we have something else.

As I sit and write this, the phone rings and I get a recorded message service from my local synagogue that an acquaintance’s mother has just passed away. The friend is two years younger than I am. He's exactly where I was on January 13th 2003. I can't comprehend going through this now. With the whole experience in hindsight, I feel like a war veteran who has survived with a few unhealable wounds. Yes, I tell myself, we made it though, we've lived through this. How hard it was to see that I had that potential. I distinctly remember thinking in that unprecedented cold January night that I couldn't wait until time had passed and showed me how to deal with all of this. I clearly remember wishing that it would be two years from then.

Well, now it is indeed those two years have passed. The sand in the hourglass analogy makes a great deal of sense to me. Grain by grain, I cannot fathom the subtlety of passing days. The pain is permament and sub-surface like a potent after taste. It's not a deep profound sadness as it is a bittersweet nostalgia. I recall all the years, days and months I shared with dad and I miss them. Moreover, it feels weird to realize that I've also learned to live these two years without them. I stop to think--to comprehend--that two years have passed.

Seven hundred and thirty days.

Seventeen thousand five hundred and twenty hours.

Where did they all go?

I have no idea. I don't have the answer. I thought I already told you that.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


This week I have encountered both life and death. And yet it is only Thursday.

But first I will introduce you to life because they always say it's nice to start on a positive note and what better positive note is there than life?
Don't answer. It's a rhetorical question of course. Life is above all and those that are not using it to its fullest are asked to begin doing so only because I, as I have already mentioned, encountered death and know what he is capable of. For one, he can end life. The one you have and the one you are not potentially cherishing.

On Monday I attended the bris, i.e. the circumcision, of my newest nephew--number five if you're counting. Needless to say, it's always a joyous event even though it involves the cutting of the oww-that-smarts part of the body. My eight-day-old nephew took the snipping like a man even though he is far from being one.
The first male child born after my father's passing is named Sahre'el Mordechai. In a moving tribute to an incredible man, Sahre'el's name is a variation of my father's Hebrew name which was "Yisroel" ("Israel" in Hebrew). Conjuring the dead in a celebration like this always creates a bittersweet atmosphere. On the one hand, you are gracious for the newest member of the family but on the other hand, you can't help but wonder why another one is not there to share in on the moment. Dad loved his grandchildren more than anything. Now one of them would carry on his memory and name, reminding us of the precious nature of life (using the word 'precious'...try not to laugh) and the fragility of it. How one goes and another one comes. By no means are these profound thoughts but they are concepts I forget. Last week, I did not have a new nephew. Two years ago, I had a dad.

Which brings me to the next portion: Death.
I had an incredibly disturbing dream the other night. In fact, its taken me two days to find the comfort to speak it aloud.
I sat in a dark room thick with black, almost plague-like darkness, while a dimly lit candle flickered on the non-descript wooden conference table. Sitting across from me was Death. With his boney fingers and hooded robe, his visage was as cliche as it could get. It seemed my imagination wanted respite from overuse in my sleep. Death told me that it was it was time to go. Even in the land of consciousness, I distinctly remember my feelings of anxiety and fear. It was palpable like drinking a glass of sweat. I pleaded for some more time, I begged with such desperation that two days later I still feel the echoing effect and the ripples of helplessness. Death consented and granted me until 7PM that day.
It was at this exact moment that I woke up, unsure whether my encounter was indeed a dream or if it had been a prophecy.

I spent the rest of the day belittling the dream, convincing myself that many other have had similar experiences, similar visions. Moreover, I did some research online looking for explanations and insights into my candlelit meeting with the Grim Reaper. What I found is that many people dream about their own deaths but not too many feel comfortable with discussing it. Which is understood especially for the superstitious. Death in a dream symbolizes one's moving on from one stage in his/her life to another. Transition from a previous chapter and encountering the next and the truth is that that is exactly how I feel. Embarking on this new year, I have a great deal of hope and confidence. With graduate school on the horizon and with the many people now entering my life, I feel the duality of life and death stirring within me. In some ways, I am ending who I was. And in other ways, I am becoming something entirely new. Like my dream, a part of me is dying. And like my nephew and the symbolic baby of the new year, I face the world anew unsure.

Shamingly, I still stood before a clock at 6:58 staring at the hands of time ticking until 7:00 PM when I found myself both relaxed and alive.

I would live on to face life and death in some capacity, just as I had done in the beginning of this week, taming them both, learning to make them my friends. While I aknowlegde my mortality, I celebrate it's potency and potential as well.

Happy New Year to all and may it be a brilliant one for you and your loved ones.