Monday, October 31, 2005


Bring Back Sincerity: Can I say that it's been a while since you've checked in with us consistently?
Arye: Yeah, I'm aware. Man, I wish I had a valid excuse. To be honest, I don't. I'm just tired all the time.
BBS: Well, let's start from the beginning for the readers: where are you now?
A: I am in NYU's School of Social Work and I am also working three days a week in a non-profit located in East Harlem.
BBS: Which undoubtedly is a new scene for you...?
A: Yes, you could say that. My current lifestyle is definitely different from what I'm used to. For one, I have to wake up every morning at an early hour. As early as 6:20 on Thursday mornings.
BBS: My God. That is early. And you're used to getting up when...?
A: Let's just say, I had a very leisurely schedule.
BBS: Are you waking up that early to go to school?
A: Yes, I am.
BBS: How is school? I know that NYU is a very expensive program so I wonder if it's worth the money.
A: Hmm...I'm trying to figure out how to answer this question without getting into trouble.
BBS: Do you think that the dean of NYU School of Social Work is reading this interview?
A: No, it's not that. It's just that I've been very disappointed so far. It's been a somewhat frustrating experience going back to school after all these years of being away from it. It's been painful in some instances. And, in risk of sounding snobbish, there hasn't really been anything intellectually stimulating compelling me to pay attention or get involved. Most of schooling experience thus far has been very unsubstantial. I spend a majority of my day resenting people for talking about themselves and their feelings too much.
BBS: And I'm sure that's disappointing.
A: Oh, it most definitely is. There has been so much incessant talking and I fear that this is only an indicator of the years to come. All morning radio.
BBS: To be fair, Arye, you are in social work school. What exactly where you expecting? It sounds like you wanted to be in law school.
A: Well, let me talk about my field practice for a second: the one thing that's frustrating me about my experience so far is that a majority of your day is wasted on meetings, paper that I'm in school and working in a non-profit...I realize that this world is really no different from the corporate world. And it saddens me because if you spend two hours in a meeting in a major corporation environment, well, no biggie. The client pays for it. But if you do the same in a non-profit, your clients, the needy, pay for it. You'd be shocked at how much paper work I need to fill a student! How many meetings I've been in. It's absurd.
BBS: That is suprising.
A: And get this--My supervisor just informed me that my field practice has always been given to second year students in previous years because of the high demand. This is the first time NYU has given this specific organization a first year intern. So at the end of the day, naturally, I'm so tired, mentally and emotionally, that I come home and sit on the couch and watch TV. Astonishingly, now that I'm in school, I am watching more TV than I ever have. And my writing suffers for it. I can't sit and write creatively. That above all depresses me.
BBS: That is truly unfortunate. I can only express my support and hope that you are able to write regardless of your lethargy.
A: It's an exhausting occupation. I have no idea how people spend their lives doing it. I really believe that being a social worker is a thankless occupation. I once heard one of my co-workers say that a social worker is the pooper-scooper of the world. We pick up the crap on the side of the street. We're the ones to clean up the mess after it's been left there.
BBS: What do you think you'll do after you've finished school in two years?
A: I have no idea.
BBS: Really?
A: Yeah. I am having an incredibly intense year already and it only started two months ago. I am located in a neighborhood I never knew existed working with people I don't, and may never, understand. These are mentally ill, drug addicted, homeless people. In most cases, they are minorities. I have thoughts running through my head throughout the day that I am ashamed of. I don't know...I go home at the end of the day and I worry whether I said or did every thing right. A corporate employee goes home and he just goes home. Work is work. You're still getting paid. You can quantify success as a finished project or a bottom line. There is no such thing when you're a social worker. You spend your whole time wondering what you're doing and whether it's doing any good.
BBS: Sounds very different from the self-absorbed life of a freelance writer.
A: Yeah. That's an understatement. And I kind of miss it. I miss the bubble. It's warm in the bubble.
BBS: But the bubble is never gratifying. And moreover, the bubble always eventually pops.
A: Touché'.
BBS: I hate to do this but we’re out of time here. Please promise us at Bring Back Sincerity that you’ll keep in touch and let us know how things fare.
A; Absolutely. I’m sorry I’ve been so inconsistent.
BBS: Thank you, Arye, for being here. And until next time, keep bringing back sincerity. Good night.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Isn't it ironic? Actually, it isn't. From out of the Darkness and into the Ark, it's the sincere return of glam rock

Military green is soo the new black; Sweden's The Ark

You simply have to admire a man who is willing to wear a full-body leopard-print unitard on stage and sing in falsetto. You have no other choice. To leave the room in cynical disgust with rolling eyes is to deny yourself of a joyous, albeit empty, rock experience. Ask yourself this: is being serious really that important?

Two years ago, a group of four trend-denying musicians left Lowestoft, England to become the greatest rock band in the world. And while the Darkness may have not accomplished that just yet, it's not for a lack of trying. Their first album Permission to Land was a joyous, unpretentious ode to irreverent hard rock with a reverent nod to Queen and AC/DC. Scents of sweaty studded leather permeated thought-out the all-killer-no-filler debut. With ballsy rockers like "Growing On Me" and "Get Your Hands Off Of My Woman," Permission's singles played on the radio like it was 1978 and we were still praying at the temple of Judas Priest, whilst power anthems like "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" and "Love Is Only A Feeling" brought us into the unrepentant 80's when long hair was a necessity, not a vanity. Surprisingly, camp, cheese, unitards, and castratingly high falsettos were not deterrents. The album did astonishingly well selling over 2 million copies making Permission to Land a debut phenomena.

And now, two years later, the Darkness returns with their second album One Way Ticket to Hell...And Back. One has to wonder, has the Darkness shtick worn thin? After only one listen to the second album my exuberant response is definitively "no."

One Way Ticket is yet another over-the-top laser gun of pure rawk. After hearing countless comparisons to Queen, the Darkness embraced the inner-Freddies and hired producer Roy Thomas Baker, the man who was essentially responsible for recording the Queen sound. Whether you questioned the Darkness's intentions beforehand, the hiring of RTB, as he's affectionately referred to, is another bona fide attempt to win over the cynics. One Way Ticket's mantra would be if you can't go back to the 70's, bring the 70's back to you. Granted the music may feel ridiculous blasting through the speakers but, c'mon, it's also ridiculously good. Starting the album off with an honest-to-God flute solo, the songs glisten like fake gold. The soaring power ballad "Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time" is as poignant as the Darkness get, and, moreover, the best song in existence about refusing to surrender to a receding hairline "Bald"" make this a triumphant sophomore effort. And I swear the last song "Blind Man" is a direct attempt to channel a modern day version of Queen. It pleases me in my retro-place, so much so that I almost want to wear a unitard in support. Almost.

Recently, in the press, Justin Hawkins has mentioned that one of his favorite new bands is the Ark. The Swedish band, which shamefully does not yet have a label in England or America, has even been rumored to possibly open for the Darkness on their upcoming tour. After listening to State of the Ark it's no mystery why. Their third album, already shaping up to be one of my favorites of the year, is a shameless glam celebration incorporating the golden riffs of T.Rex, the make-up of David Bowie, and, yup, the theatrics of Queen.

The opener "This Piece of Poetry Was Meant To Do Harm" is a good indicator for the rest of the album; pop songs that are instantly catchy and deliciously meaty, also rife with catty lyrics and cum-hither taunts. There is so much attitude in an Ark song that it practically brings your ears to their knees. Lead singer Ola Salo is one of the most flamboyant, charismatic stage presences performing today, and the rest of his band are equally skilled and entertaining musicians. Their live show is a true performance, part Hedwig, and part Roxy Music, all sensational. Ola channels Jim Morrison had the Lizard King became fabulous instead of groovy. Wearing matching outfits on-stage and demanding an exuberant reaction from the audience (and they always get it. Trust me), the Ark begs for your attention. And, like the Darkness, while you may think their songs are silly at first listen, unlike the Darkness, the lyrics like those found in the gay-adoptive rights rocker "Father of a Son," the anti-conservative "It Takes a Fool to Remain Sane" and the radical Christian challenge "Disease" establish the Ark as a political band with a liberal agenda. Salo is openly gay and uses his sharp tongue and even sharper wit to make a statement about the state of the world. Listening to music this fun with lyrics this substantial is a jarring experience but also a commendable one. It's rare for a rock band to wear their homosexuality out on their sequined sleeves but the Swedish collective looks controversy straight in the face (in fact, in "Father of a Son," Ola boasts "And I may be gay but I can tell you straight away that I'll become a better father than all of you"). Perhaps this is the reason for the Ark's lack of success in America? Maybe this country isn't ready for their alternative music being too alternative. A shame.

While State of the Ark is their most recent release, all three albums (In Lust We Trust and We Are the Ark) are strongly recommended. Check out the Ark website for more information and do your duty in ensuring that this Ark will not be lost.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Please come back then. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

An abbreviated autobiography as told through the music of U2; one in a series

But first: the October 10th, 2005 setlist for U2's Vertigo Tour at Madison Square Garden:

1. City of Blinding Lights
2. Vertigo
3. Elevation
4. I Will Follow
5. Electric Co.
6. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For/In A Little While
7. Beautiful Day
8. Miracle Drug
9. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
10. Love And Peace or Else
11. Sunday Bloody Sunday
12. Bullet The Blue Sky
13. Miss Sarajevo
14. Pride (In The Name of Love)
15. Where The Streets Have No Name
16. One

Encore 1:
17. Zoo Station
18. The Fly
19. With Or Without You

Encore 2:
20. All Because of You
21. Yahweh
22. Bad
23. 40

The Joshua Tree - I remember how I would scam those Columbia House music clubs all the time by making up names for myself. Just changing my first or last name ever so slightly so the alias would have a semblence of authenticity (and also that my parents would believe that the company mispelled my exotic name and the contents of the package were not ordered under false pretenses). Every few weeks Arbe Dwarken, or Alye Dwopken or Brye Sworken would get a package of eight cassettes in the mail costing Arye Dworken only a penny. And this would have gone on for years had my father not accidentally opened an ominous legal notice threatening eternal credit ruin for one Albee Dwarfkin. Somehow Dad was able to figure out that Albee and I were indeed one and the same. He guilted me into giving up the scamming and even paid for my retroactive booty.

Out of all the experiments I ordered (after all, I was more willing to take chances when the music was free) none had greater impact on me than The Joshua tree. I was just a teenager transitioning from Billy Joel and Elton John to finally recognizing that there was music out there that my parents weren't listening to. Two years after Joshua Tree exploded U2 into mainstream superstars, I finally caught on. While I was familiar with the hit songs, I never realized that a semi-alternative rock band from Ireland was capable of creating a perfect album that could resonate with me. But I learned that I was wrong.

"Where the Streets Have No Name" felt the most urgent to me. The song moved me in a way an apathetic teen is rarely moved. The glowing synth in the beginning of the song, the twitching staccato of the Edge's guitar, the way Bono declares that he wants to run. All of this sent chills up my spin. I honestly felt like I was running alongside Bono in that nameless street. To this day, this song remains one of my favorites. The first time I saw it performed live I was almost brought to tears. While I could neve replicate that specific experience, ever since then, whenever I hear it live, I feel warm.

[To be continued]

Sunday, October 09, 2005


How Brad, Angelina, Nick, Jessica, Kenney, and Renee are ruining the concept of marriage.

When Rebecca Romijn became engaged to Jerry O'Connell just a few days ago the first reaction was congratulations. The second were predictions on how long the marriage would last. After all, Ms. Romijn, the quintessential B-list model, had just filed for divorce from her first husband John Stamos five months previous. The reason for the separation: Romijn didn't want to start a family.

In Hollywood, marriage is a whim. It's an outfit you put on depending on the weather. A wedding--and now a pregnancy--is the perfect press opportunity. Celebrities may set the standard for fashion and couture but are they also setting a precedent for unholy matrimony?

Perhaps Sienna Miller could answer this. One of England's most beautiful women, if not the world, and the arbiter of the bobo fashion is willing to slump. After being outed publicly for cheating on his fiancé with his less-attractive housekeeper, Jude Law was taken back by Miller carte blanche. In the most disappointing display of lack of self-esteem, Miller has set an example to the public that charms and good looks (in this case, extremely good looks) will get you far. Even as far as to your nanny's fanny and back again.

All the while, the press like Star, People, In Touch, OK, etc. have been covering the respective break-downs of celebrity relationships like it were the progress of our oxygen supply and our lives depended on it. When opening any of the aforementioned publications, one is bombarded by romantic dysfunction. This week, it's Nick and Jessica, last week, it was Kenny and Renee, and the week before, it was still Angelina, Jennifer and Brad. The tabloids are so obsessed with divorce that they'll promote B- and C-listers to A list status. Now that she's divorced, when was the time before that that Tori Spelling made the news? Yup, when she got married. And since when is the lead character from One Tree Hill's divorce cover-worthy? It's not a popular show but I'll bet Chad Michael Murry is enjoying the boost in popularity even if it cost him the fee for a divorce attorney.

Two questions could be asked: 1. Who cares? We know the dysfunctional lifestyles of celebrities. They have their process and we have ours. And 2. the current rate of divorce is at 54%. Isn't this just reflecting the status of matrimony in America?

Good questions. I'm glad you asked them. Well, 1., one of my favorite features in Us Weekly is "Stars: They're Just Like Us." In this weekly feature, we are privy to all the thrilling minutiae of a celebrity's life, like Jennifer Garner drinks coffee. Just like us. And Cameron Diaz? Well, she goes to her niece's birthday party. I Know. Crazy.

What the tabloid essentially does is demystify the celebrity, or dim the bright star. By revealing every single aspect of their lives like their embarrassing and should-be private moments, the gap that separates them and us narrows. Eventually, we may have a hard time distinguishing between the actor, the singer, the star and the regular folk ( and I mean this in some regard subconsciously). When this happens, when we find the likeness, it becomes more difficult maintaining our own moral compasses. After all, they cheat on their wives with strippers. After all, they file for divorce five months after their marriage citing the basis as fraud. If this is what a famous person does, and Lord knows I want to be like a famous person....These people have crazy lives. Exposing the masses to them is not healthy for our mental and moral development.

And 1A., this part of your question reminds me of something I saw on MTV (surprise). The pop culture channel aired a special about the making of House of Wax, a horror movie remake which, come to think of it, starred Chad Michael Murry. Co-star Paris Hilton, an utter and complete wasteful human being, takes a trip to the birthday party of an eleven year-old girl, who is also an enormous Hilton fan. Apparently, there are such people. Unbeknownst to the girl, Paris is on her way over to a Paris-themed party where all the girls were asked on the invites to dress in a Paris Hilton-manner, aka, inappropriatley slutty. I have no idea what this girl's parents were thinking but they're obviously not too fond of their daughter's virginity. All the little innocent girls are wearing Von Dutch (Paris later comments on them saying "I don't even wear those anymore") and dressed in tight, revealing clothing. Soon after the show's taping, it would develop that Hilton's ex-boyfriend would leak an infamous sex tape to the internet showing Hilton's "skills." The hotel heir-head would also get engaged twice and then steal the boyfriend of another sickly celebrity (Mary Kate, I was once such a fan). She would also take pictures of her self topless with another girl on her cellphone. Does it even need to be said that this is obviously not a stable role model? But before we answer that, we should figure out how Paris Hilton became a celebrity or worse yet, an example for an eleven year-old girl in Australia?

Simply put, the tabloids made her what she is with their obsessive coverage. Paris is a compelling accident. There is no shortage of paparazzi fodder. We wrongfully seek moronic behavior and Hilton gladly, if not stupidly, supplies. And as much as it hurts to say it, the tabloids are so culturally potent that they've even fooled reputable...okay, semi-reputable publications like Vanity Fair into putting her on their cover. Groan all you want; tabloids sell like mad and that may even be your fault. The more you purchase "beach reading" all year round, the more we condone this soul-sucking cycle. I'm not mad--I won't suggest that you consider boycotting them immediatley but maybe catching up in the doctor's office or reading them in line at the supermarket will help you wean yourself off, you gossip junkie, until you're able to say, I don't need you, Nick Lachey.

Finally, I’m not saying (re:question 2) that tabloids are solely responsible for the sullying the image of marital bliss but I would say it’s definitely one of the major contributors. After my weekend home, flipping through my mother's Peoples, it truly depressed me to see the unprecedented access to Hollywood's rampant dysfunctions. As far as I could tell, the only person who is “truly in love” is Tom Cruise. But after watching his public declarations and insane outbursts, I would say that both Katie and her upcoming baby have an unenviable life ahead. Cruise has obviously lost his mind and will never make a fitting husband or father.

And if that is love, I’d rather not have it anywhere near me or my couch.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Birthday girl.

Today is not only the Jewish New Year but it is also Shana's birthday. A most special day two-fold.

A happy new year to all of you out there. Please excuse my inconsistency and irregularity but I assure you posting will pick up beginning next week. In the meantime, spend your spare time by writing poetic messages to Shana in honor of her big whopping two-four! Word.