Thursday, May 29, 2003

Album Recommendation of the Week:

The Cardigans

If Led Zeppelin had written "Rock And Roll" today, the lyrics would have probably been "it actually hasn't been such a long time since I rocked and rolled..." Because really, with the recent influx of garage rock bands, we are pretty much always rocking. We are living in the State of Rock and we do not have the cash to pay the toll and leave. And whether its on the radio, watching TV or just reading a "relevant" music magazine, the amps are annoyingly cranked to 11. In fact, I would even suggest if one really wanted to rock, he would have to turn it up to about 16 or at least, 14. Turning it up to only11 is so last year.
Therefore, because of my poor victimized and shell-shocked ears, I have found a great source of comfort in the new Cardigans album, LONG GONE BEFORE DAYLIGHT. It's the respite from the constant barrage of cannibalistic guitars who want to eat me whole and leave nothing over. The collection of 11 songs are peaceful, memorable, pretty and sexy. It is not deep or poetic but that doesn't detract from its value because after all, it's the beauty we're sometimes after. We don't need a deep conversation, we just want something stunning to look at. In other words, the album is Swedish.
From the heartbreaking opener, "Communication" to the sunny-day real statement of "You Live And Learn," this is what the critics call "a mature masterpiece." Lead singer, Nina Perrson has almost definitively the best voice in music, aside, of course, from Xtinna...wait, was I thinking about voices or was it butts? And unlike Ms. Aguilera, the Cardigans have not dyed their hair freakish colors and will not be in a video co-starring a swarm of moths anytime soon.
Instead, they will give us an album that feels like randomly running into an old high school friend we were quite fond of but just lost touch with and hadn't seen in a long time. We're so happy the chance meeting happened that we walk away from the encounter with a glowing positive feeling. Then we call our mom to tell her about it.
So, if you're feeling a bit too rawked out these days, much like I am, here is your understated beauty. Here is what Robert Plant could never pull off. Because it's intentionally soft and delicate, not bombastic and in-your-face (or for that matter, involving any sort of caterwauling). Yes, it's been fairly recent since you rocked and rolled but hasn't it been a long time since you were gently cradled?

Wednesday, May 28, 2003


From: Jenny Choi
To: Arye Dworken
Date May 27, 2003 6:07PM
Subject: happybirthdaywhenandwherearewehavingdinner?

Ok, down to bizness. first of all. it's contemporary art you're bashing. not modern. get it right. unless you want to bash picasso or cezanne, then that's a different story...

second. why did you go to the dia beacon. the state of contemporary art is everywhere. you could have gone to chelsea or soho or queens to realize what youre now realizing. and why are you making this realization now? this conceptual movement has been going on for thirty plus years. someone hasn't been keeping up.

I'm trying to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are indeed educated about art, but what would you say if someone, someone who knew a fraction, a quarter of what you know about music, bashed all contemporary music. what if this person listened to five of your favorite current albums once over and said, oh it's garbage. it's just noise and no melody. rock musicians are only rock musicians because of their image. I think you ought to think how much you actually know about these artists before you judge them. THEM. 'them' being a general term, right? there is quite a lot about the contemporary art world that I am clueless about, but I accept that there are creative realms out there that I need to be more educated about before I judge them. think about how much you really know about something, before you sweepingly judge an artist as creating something 'forced' or 'uninspired'. I'm not saying you can't have an opinion, I just cant help but question how educated an opinion it is.

what do you think about kasimir malevich (russian guy from 50s who did plain red squares on a canvas) or piet mondrian (dutch guy from 40s who did white canvas, red, black, yellow lines)? do you think they're bull**** too? are you saying it has to look complex to be art? it has to look like there's skill involved to be art? heres my art lesson for the day: these guys (among others) were trained as serious painters and they started their careers making paintings that actually resembled things: trees, lakes, landscapes,
seascapes. then one day, they decided to transcend representational art. their paintings no longer looked like trees or lakes. people were outraged. it changed the face of art as we know it today. do you think they did it simply to shock? these artists felt that they wanted to portray real things (trees, lakes, etc) the way they truly see them, not just with their eyes. it was a kind of spiritual representation and so much more personal. subsequently, their audience then had wide open space to interpret these paintings the way they saw fit. what did it all mean??? here we have: the birth of modern art. nonrepresentational art. abstract art. believe me. it's all coming from the same vein. sometimes you extract great meaning just
looking at it. and sometimes you just don't get it. but who's to say that the artist is a fool if his audience doesn't get it? who's to say that the artist is uninspired???

in yr interpretation of AW, you don't see that he was actually making a very clear point. you see a grotesque car crash and then you see it again, and again, and again, multiplied nice and neat into a grid. and what happens then? what happens when something completely revolting is repeated over and over again. well, suddenly, it's not grotesque anymore. what I think? I think it's brilliant. revolutionary for its time. (ps: he's from pittsburgh)

or better yet. jackson pollock! ya think he's bull**** too? he's really no different from mr. white canvas with disparate brushstrokes. go ahead. say it. they're both full o' ****.

but what we're really talking about is: WHAT REALLY DEFINES ART??? you and I certainly have differing opinions about that.

educate yourself before you judge. think before you generalize.

ok really now, I cant be having these crazy long debates while at work. I gots to get back to my job now. to be continued... or we can just end it now. I don't mind. actually, im sure you want to respond. I would too.

By the way, you're an absolutely amazing person and I worship you.


Tuesday, May 27, 2003

MODERN ART IS A FARCE: An Argument With Myself, Communicated Via Email

From: Arye Dworken
To: Arye Dworken
Date: May 27, 2003 1:03PM
Subject: I don't miss the MOMA

How's it going? I hope all is well.
So, I went to the Dia:Beacon, that new modern art muesem in upstate New York, on Sunday. Let me tell you; eye-rolls all around. I have never been so wanked before in all my life. Like, could I have my ten dollars back? While the building was amazing--so large and airy, a pleasure to be in--the artwork felt forced, uninspired, guady and silly.
Pretty much the way I would describe most modern art.
If I know you, and I think I do, you're now probably reacting like, what am I talking about? Modern art is always relevent and most of all, integral to our existance as cultured human beings, to which I reply: Yawn.
Modern art has gotten out of hand already. Most artists are not even focusing on producing art, they are primarily interested in recognition. It seems that the motivating force behind most artwork nowadays is fame. When a painter produces a picture of the Virgin Mary adorned with elephant dung, one must wonder what his intention are. Was it for me, the appreciator, to look at it and baske in its brilliance, internalize the social commentary on the Christian Church or was it really just to get Gulliani riled up.
I truly wonder if these artists living in Williamsburg are compelled to be artists or did F.I.T. just seem like a really fun place to meet girls with piercings?


From: Arye Dworken
To: Arye Dworken
Date: May 27, 2003 1:43PM
Re: Subject: I don't miss the MOMA


Interesting point you're making. I do see it but I don't really agree. We need modern art because it challenges us. Makes us think more and look to the abstract. If everything was as simple as the classic works then we would never progress as thinkers, or as you say, "a cultured human being."
While some may look at art and think, I don't get it, at least it's making them think. It's prying open the collective closed mind and prompting a reaction, whether that reaction is emotional or thought-out. How many other things can have the same effect? Look at you for example; look how aggrevated you are. Modern art has gotten under your skin. While that may not be the desired reaction of the artist, it's a reaction nonetheless.

By the way, you look great nowadays. I'm happy I ran into you on Sunday.


From: Arye Dworken
To: Arye Dworken
Date: May 27, 2003 2:55PM
Subject: You are spewing ridiculousness

Yes, it was good seeing you. And I appreciate your kind words-you look great yourself.
So, responding to your Devil's Advocate position: I found it interesting that many of the pieces we saw on Sunday were untitled. Like "Untitled 1," "Untitled 7," etc. And I began to wonder why that was so? Why were these works untitled? Well, it's probably because the artist him or herself didn't have a clue as to what he was making. Maybe he chose random paints or in some cases, random parts and just put something together and said to me, to us, the appreciators; you do the work. Maybe you can tell me, the artist, what I made.
This is the ultimate prank.
Most artists, I'm certian, are laughing all the way to the bank. Andy Warhol is the least detestible of them all because he was aware of the prank. He made prints of Campbell soup cans. He almost put no effort into his art but it was worth millions.
Let me tell you about this one artist we saw on Sunday. I can't remember his name but all his paintings were stark white. No color, no picture, no nothing. Just white paint on a canvas. This painter claims that art is not what you see, not what's on the canvas but rather the process of painting. So if you see nothing, then that's the point. Because what you see is not the art but rather how he got to what you're seeing.
I wanted to slap this man. Very hard.
I remember reading in an article how surprised Beck was to find that people were interpreting his lyrics. He admitted that his lyrics were senseless. Random word association. They weren't supposed to mean anything. But there were many out there who mined his nonsense for deep poetry.Yeah, they found it but it was forced. They convinced themselves something was there. NOT EVEN THE ARTIST HIMSELF INTENDED FOR HIS WORDS TO HAVE MEANING. And this is my view on modern art. It's random. It's nonsense but we, the suckers born every minute, bestow so much importance on it, that there's no turning back. If we retracted our praise, then we would all look like fools for supporting scammers.

I have lost all faith in art after going to the Dia:Beacon. And it will take a great deal to restore it. Like maybe actual art.


From: Arye Dworken
To: Arye Dworken
Date: May 27, 2003 3:32PM
Re: Subject: You are spewing ridiculousness

Dawg -

I am saddened to hear about your loss of faith. It appears that you won't be joining me at the Matthew Barney Exhibit at the Guggenheim?


From: Arye Dworken
To: Arye Dworken
Date: May 27, 2003 4:46PM
Subject: I am having a hard time not coming over the slap you senseless

Did you say "Matthew Barney"? I was at that exhibit and it sucked. I mean, sucked HARD. I have never been so upset about parting ways with a ten dollar bill.
Matthew Barney just proves my point. He solicited millions to make five feature length films of nonsense. You cannot go. I will not let you. That man does not deserve another ounce of recognition. He has taken money that could have otherwise been used for good and spent it feeding his over-sized ego and his alienating pretentiousness.
Matthew Barney is a bad person. He is not an artist. And anyone who says otherwise is trying too hard.
Arye, I am tired of being a victim. I will have it no longer. Are you with me?


From: Arye Dworken
To: Arye Dworken
Date: May 27, 2003 5:12PM
Re: Subject: I am having a hard time not coming over the slap you senseless


I'm running home. But I will say this before I leave; you are right to an extent. But there is a redeeming quality to some of the art out there. Take Lichtenstein or Damien Hirst. We should not make sweeping comments like you. But yes, as I said, you are somewhat right. The modern art world is in need for some serious shaping up.
And incidentally, I went to SVA for the girls with piercings, not F.I.T.

Word 6.0,

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Yesterday was my birthday.

I have kept it low-key, intentionally. I don't think that this is the time for me to have a big bash. After all I am still techincally a "mourner."
But actually one thing happened yesterday that made me feel significant. And as ridiculous as this may sound, it left me with a very warm feeling. The woman at Dunkin' Donuts knew what I wanted even before I had a chance to say anything. I walked in and immediatley, she said "small coffee with skim milk." I nodded and then smiled. Thank you, I said.
I began to think that hundreds of people walk in there on a daily basis. Hundreds of grunting strangers who expect special treatment, better than the equally-groggy person standing to their left and right will get. But in truth, to the woman behind the counter, we are all anonymous. We are all just faces in a crowd looking for a caffeinated fix, forgetting to say "please" and "thank you." But on this Friday morning, that changed for me.
It was a truly great birthday present. Because through this Indian woman dressed in a tacky brown and pick uniform, I was aknowledged by the world for being a person. An individual. A woman who normally doesn't look up, looked at me, knew who I was and what I wanted. She knew why I was there.
And if you think this isn't a big deal, then you've never been to a Dunkin' Donuts in morning rush hour. For that moment, when I got my coffee with skim milk, I was important enough to be considered a person with individual needs and tastes. Yes, an individual.
And isn't that what we are all looking for?

Thursday, May 22, 2003


I was first introduced to the Smiths by Yosef Lewis. I didn't like them at first. No, dislike is too subtle a word. Yosef, or just "Lewis" as we called him, loved the Smiths. And according to Lewis, their guitarist, Johnny Marr, was an acoustic alchemist; he turned chords to gold.
I, on the other hand, thought Morrissey was too dramatic, he was the vocal equivalent of daytime drama. General Hospital in a song. And as a college kid, I shunned drama--that was for adults with jobs, relationships, concerns and checking accounts. Not for me, the self-proclaimed king of afternoon naps.
I also felt somewhat uncomfortable about the band's sexual ambiguity. It was unnecessarily cliffhanger-ish, almost like a marketing tool. Are they or aren't they...? Was that lyric referencing a guy or a girl? Is the song, "Ask," about experimenting with homosexuality?
And on a side note, is the song title, "How Soon Is Now" a rhetorical question or does he really want to know that now is, well, pretty soon?

Recently, I have been turning to my sounds of nostalgia. I have uploaded vintage Rush and Elton John onto my iPod. I popped Van Halen's "5150" into my car tape deck and screamed along--not sang, screamed--to "Dreams." But my mornings have been primarily devoted to the Smiths. I like waking up to the bounce of "hang the DJ/hang the DJ/haaaang the DJ." And despite the morbidness of their lyrics get ("And if a double decker bus crashes into us/to die by your side...") the tunes themselves are motivating. It reminds me when I was younger and my parents would trick me into getting excited about bedtime by enthusiastically declaring "YAY! IT'S BEDTIME! YIPEEE!" And the truth is, I fell for it. Even back then, I gravitated to delivery, not content.
[Side note: Last night, while I was hanging out with my dear friend, Jenny, we listened to the Smiths and had a pretty meaningful conversation while Morrissey crooned in the background.]

Though I am a great appreciator of music, I've always wondered what makes certain bands cult-like? What does a band have to do to achieve mythical status besides have their lead singer committ suicide? How does a band garner enough respect to warrant a convention in an actual hotel with actual die-hard fans with actual no lives? Bands like Kiss and the Beatles have conventions because they have earned it by changing the face of music (Kiss; quite literally). But what is most interesting is that the Smiths have one. Well, specifically, Morrissey, but there is a convention of people sporting his trademark pompadour. There, the androgynous masses wander about looking for rare Smiths 7" or for the answer to the Morrissey/Sexuality question. To which we will probably never find the answer because Morrissey probably has a reason for keeping us guessing. Maybe he hasn't figured it out himself.

What is it about the Smiths that brings people to the point of obsessiveness? What is it that makes women, men and the ones we're not sure about, weak at their knees?
Is it the aforementioned mopiness? Or was it the tryst that Lewis is certain Morrissey and Marr kept secret while in the band, creating a chemistry that most bands pine for?
interestingly enough, from a prolific stand point, the Smiths only released four albums of original material. They released a great deal of compilations, a live album, some greatest hits packages but when you whittle it all down, there are just four albums. And granted, THE QUEEN IS DEAD is probably one of the most important British albums of all time, if not the blueprint for Britpop. And moreover, maybe their four albums are stronger than the music most labels put out in their entire existence but still, why the Smiths?

You know what, I'm really not sure yet. I'm going to have to think about it. But wait a sec - what made you think I was going to give you the answer? After all, didn't I tell you that I'm the delivery-not-the-content guy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

THE FOOD I HAVE SAID GOODBYE TO; a play written in three parts

Setting: Arye is sitting in his disheviled living room watching the Gilmore Girls. The door bell rings. He gets up to answer it.

Arye: Coming.
[Arye open the door and sees a 5'7 glazed Krispy Kreme donut standing in the same spot where his New York Times usually sits every morning]
Arye: What are you doing here?
Krispy: I was in the neighborhood.
Arye: But I've said goodbye to you already.
Krispy: Can I come in?
Arye: No. I'm watching the Gilmore Girls.
Krispy: Can't I watch with you?
Arye: Look, I said you couldn't come in.
[Krispy sighs and makes an unusually sad face for a donut]
Arye: Oh, ok. You can come in...but only for a little while.
[Krispy sits on the couch next to Arye. Some of his glaze comes off on the couch which clearly distresses Arye]
Arye: Dude, watch your glaze.
Krispy: Sorry.


[Arye and Krispy have finished watching the Gilmore Girls. And the door bell rings again]
Arye: Who could that be?
Krispy [singing under his breath the famous Men At Work song]: who could it be knocking at my door...
[Arye opens the door and sees his old friend, French Fries]
Arye: Geez, what is going on here tonight?
French: I heard Krispy was here so I figured I would drop by, too.
Arye [looking both at Krispy and French]: This is so wrong of both of you. You know how unhealthy you both are and how I've been trying to retsrain myself from hanging out with the two of you.
French: I am just a side dish. How harmful could I be?
Krispy: Yeah, and I'm just a desert.
Arye: That's not the point. You are both fried and bad for my heart, cholestoroil. Everything.
French: That is like, so lame. Can I come in?
Krispy: Sure, we just watched the Gilmore Girls.
French: Oh! What happened? Tell me....Arye, do you have any ketchup?
Arye: Yeah.
French: Get some-you're gonna need it.
Arye: Haven't you noticed that I've been away for a while?
Krispy: He's trying to be healthy now.
French: Healthy?!? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. What's the point of living if you can't eat what you want.
Krispy: That's what I've said.
French: And just think about all the amazing times we spent together. Remember all the late nights when there was nothing else to eat besides French fries? Remember all the hamburgers with their plates adorned with beautiful golden Frenc fries? You can't just leave us! That's maddening!
Krispy [to Arye]: Hey...where's your bathroom?


Setting: French Fries is obviously distressed as he circles the room, talking to himself. Krispy Kreme sits on the couch lethargically with a remote changer in his hand and his feet up on the coffee table. Arye is considering calling the police but realizes how silly it would sound calling the police for a breaking and entering of a large donut and pack of fries.
Arye: You guys need to leave. I'm not changing my mind.
[Door bell rings]
Arye: Oh my....who could this be?
[Arye opens the door once again to see a bowl of Fettucine Alfredo]
Arye: Uch. You stink.
Fettucine: Well, I am cheese, ya' know. Sorry for living.
Krispy and Fries: Hey, Fredo!
Fettucine: Hey guys! What are you doing here?
Arye: Look, everyone has to leave now. I am expecting someone and cannot have the three of you sitting here.
Fries: LIAR! You are expecting no one! You just want us out because we're "not healthy." Ridiculous.
Arye: Look, I seriously am expecting someone so I would appreciate it if you all left now. C'mon, guys. I will see you again if you leave. If you go, I promise not to completely sever ties with you. I will visit on occasion. It doesn't have to be final....
Krispy: Honest?
Arye: Yea.
[Doorbell rings. Arye sprints to answer the door]
Arye: Crap! There she is...and you guys are still here! Take the back door. Now!
[Door opens]
Person at door: Arye? The door is open. I'm coming in.
Arye: Wait...uhhh...I'm not dressed yet!
Person at door: Oh, please. I'm coming in.
[It is revealed that the person coming in is Martha Stewart]
Martha: Oh, look who's here. It's Krispy, French and Fredo. Are they staying tonight?
Arye: They were just leaving.
Martha: Do they have to?


Tuesday, May 20, 2003


My dearest Milla,

It has been so long since I held you last. Ahh, and the laughs we shared on the set of "the Fifth Element." It seems like ages ago.

I saw a Clairol commercial the other night and it seems that you've dyed your hair again. Dear Milla, when will you finally decide and be at peace with the color of your precious strands of silk? Will it be red? Brown? Or the molten-like blonde that makes me weak at the knees? It is when I see that hair color that I bow to the Temple of Jovovich. I open my siddur (that's a prayer book, baby) and I say a special prayer thanking the demi-Gods (your parents) for putting you on this planet. This planet we call Earth but should really call "Milla." Because you are the world to me.

Oh, and yesterday I rented "Tango & Cash." I see what you were saying. It is completely underrated and perhaps even a work of art. Both Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone are understated action heroes. We could all learn a great deal from their performances. And another thing: I now understand your "genetics" reference. Ha ha ha. Milla, you are indeed a card. Not a Hallmark card, mind you, but a card I want in a game of Black Jack.

Right now, you are filming the Joan of Arc movie. How is it potraying a martyr? I've meant to ask you that but always forget. I remember when I played one in elementary school. I was one of the Ten Rabbis killed by some really nasty king who tricked them with...hey, wait a sec, remind me to tell you this story when you get back. It could make a really great movie.

I ran into Ethan and Uma on the street the other day. They want to have us over for dinner when you get back. To be honest, I'd rather not. Ethan is working on a book and wants to tell us all about it. If we do wind up going, I would have to be reeeaallly drunk. Look, I know Ethan is a nice guy and Uma tries really hard but I can't help but feel that I'm the odd man out, not being a celebrity and all. Know what I mean?
And I know you said that that makes no difference to you. It still makes me feel a little insignificant. Sorry for being silly. I can't help being your silly bear.

Hey, you must tell me what Malkovich is like. Man, now that's exciting! How tall is he in real life?

I wish I could come visit you and your radiant beauty. You are the water I put in my humidifier. You are the microwave of the pizza bagel of my heart. I miss you and your piercing sharp eye brows. I miss your finger-like toes. I want you to be here soon.

Hey, did I tell you I got a new shower curtain? It's really cool with fish and shell pictures.

Ok, I need to be off now but I can't wait until you write or call. I miss you tons. The sooner, the better! K.I.T.!
And we got a script in the mail called "Resident Evil.' It looks like bad news--don't do it.

With great heaving passion.
Your uncompromising love,

Monday, May 19, 2003

I apologize for the serious nature of this posting. I want you to know, in advance, that this entry could be a "bummer."

As you may know, I have recently suffered the loss of my father. I'd like to think this tragedy hasn't completely dampened my spirits, which still remain hopeful and optimistic. I still believe in things. Things like hope, optimism, and poodles. I also believe in good things. Good things will still happen. Even if the world, as I knew it, collapsed like a dish shelf with too much weight on it.

But the hardest aspect of dealing with a loss is sometimes suppressing the shock and wonderment. Sometimes people say the wrong thing. Sometimes they lack any semblance of tact.

Before I continue, I need to be clear: I appreciate your condolences. i appreciate your "care" and "concern." I want you to check up on me. I do. Even now. Perhaps replenish my fridge with alcoholic beverages. Because, you know, sometimes a beer makes everything ok.

But I'm a bit weirded out when you tell me, "hey, Arye, I'm sorry to hear about your dad" while we're in a bar and Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" plays on the loud speakers. While people jovially throw their bodies around with reckless abandon. No, not now, I'm thinking. And don't ask me, "how are you holding up" while I have a decent buzz and I'm trying to laugh. Because I'm not sure how to answer that. There I am feeling guilty as it is for being in a social surrounding. There I am trying for a little while to see life as you see it; carefree, happy, perhaps blurry. Please don't take me from that.
Don't pour a bucket of ice cold water over my head.
I wouldn't do that to you.

Perhaps I am being harsh. Perhaps I am being too critical. They do have good intentions, you'll say. And I agree with that. No one ever took their good intentions away. They still have them. In their wallet. In their pocket. Or on the kitchen counter. Wherever they keep those intentions.

I guess what i'm saying is that I'm trying to go on. As most mourners do. And I think it seems pretty obvious that at that specific moment, at that exact second when we hear Martin Gore singing over frenetic synthesizers, that maybe that isn't the time to see how I'm holding up. Because I just may cry into your Cosmopolitan.
And no one likes a salty Cosmo.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

- I imagine that the future will be different from the present.

- On the way into work today, I realized that Winona Ryder has got to be one shallow girl.

- Just a few moments ago, someone referred to me as "cocoa puffs." As in: what's up, cocoa puffs? Now, I am completely uncertain whether that nickname was meant as a compliment or not. Do I resemble a cocoa puff at all? Why not a Rice Krispie? I'm white, weak, but slightly crunchy.

The Postal Service
-Give Up-

I can't remember the last time I danced and cried at the same time. Not to say that that has actually ever happened or could ever happen--and have you seen me dance? But if there ever was an album that could put you in such a mood, it is the Postal Service's new album, Give Up.

The music produced on this record is being referred to as "emotronica," a combination of emo; the musical equivalent of the heart worn out on the sleeve of a tight thrift shop shirt, and electronica; music that tries to be more "sophisticated" than typical dance music. It's the sound of an ectasy-ridden CentroFly Saturday night after it went to Harvard.

What makes this collection of 11 songs so much more accomplished than most great records is that the Postal Service is a side project. This is what these guys do in their down-time. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie (weird name, accessible songs) teamed up with ethereal laptop DJ, Jimmy Tomborello, to create products of poignancy, all made with the cold, emotionless instruments of technology.

The first single, the retro sounding song, "Such Great Heights" would have been the biggest hit had it still been 1986. The duet, "Nothing Better" with Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, is the Human League's "Don't You Want Me" of our day. Song after song, the album has the consistent sound of nostalgia and futurism, living in tight harmony. And mind you, the nostalgia is neither ironic nor winking, it's real like braces in elementary school. Like Members Only wind breakers, when you didn't think it was cool to wear them. And the futuristic aspect never overwhelms or challenges. It's a promising future, where everyone flies, food comes in a pill; not like all the futures you saw in the Schwarzenegger movies.
Give Up is a seriously brilliant accomplishment. Pick it up. Put it on. And dance through the tears. Just like Molly Ringwald did.

Monday, May 12, 2003

I've started a new job today and I realize that these are the most important things to get done on the first day:

Choosing a toilet - chances are, if you have a lot to do, you'll be hiding out in the bathroom often. So it's important to choose the stall that you are most comfortable with. The one that you'll be happiest with your pants down and a New York Times spread out before you. The day is long and dreary if you pick the wrong stall. So choose wisely.

Finding a place to buy coffee from - God forbid, you should use the free office coffee. I mean, that is so intern-ish....errr, office coffee anyone?

Introducing yourself to your cubicle neighbors - These are the people who will make you or break you. And they will introduce you to other people, who introduce you to other people, who introduce you to other people, who introduce you to your office crush who you will obsess on for hours and hours, hoping that she walks by so you could offer her some office coffee.

Memorizing the office lay out - this is all the rage.

Learning which employee has the juiciest gossip - it's so much fun to hear about who's doing what with who.
In the office, gossip is a weapon. Be armed.

Make sure you know who's high up and who's not - this information could come in handy when you're not in the mood to hold the elevator door open for that person who's shouting "can you hold that please?"

Introducing yourself to the mailroom - Free magazines, people. There is nothing more valuable than having a copy of People Magazine to read on the subway on the way home. You can sit there and revel in the fact that you're catching up on Renee Zellweger's weight fluctuation issues FOR NOTHING!

Get the answer to "where is the supply room?" - never underestimate the glory of office supplies in abundance. Sometimes, I want to jump in a pool of Post-it Notes pads completely naked.

Friday, May 09, 2003


The Naked Edward Norton Experience

The Laps

People Are Like Fish

Ikea Furniture

The Beetles

The Instant Messengers

The New Two Dollar Fare

The Maybe, Maybe, Maybes


Woody Allentown Pennsylvania

Ewe Gott Male

Minimum Wage Against the Machine

Francis Ford Mustang

The Children's Aid Society

The Harry Pottery Barns

Look At Your Shoes!

The Bras

The Pretentious

Safe Mode

The Brooklyn Hipsters

Friday, May 02, 2003


Your rent is a measly $3400 a month. And your friends hate you because you can't find a studio for that cheap anywhere. Well, maybe in Queens.

You have cut down on your Starbucks beverages. It used to be that you had a frappacinno and a latte per day but considering both individually cost about $7.50 you have decided to stick with the free office coffee.

You have more or less reverted to your college menu consisting mainly of Tortilla chips, salsa, pasta and veggie burgers. You want to go out to eat more often but unfortunately restaurants (more so kosher restaurants) are so expensive that people think you're "Mister Fancy-Pants" when you suggest "that we should meet up for dinner soon." Dinner, they question back? Look who's Mister Fancy Pants.

You can't even get drunk anymore because bars charge more for their drinks. Because less people go to bars due to the ten-year-old smoking ban and higher rents. People just stay at home, make their own alcohol in their bathtubs and then smoke all the cigarettes they want. And by the way, you grew the tobacco out on your balconey.
People do on occasion take dates out for drinks. If the girl orders a fancy drink (which costs about $16, then there is no second date. If she orders a beer ($9.50), then she is a keeper. She understands that you are financially strapped as is 93% of the city.
The average 32 year old is $12,000 in debt and has nothing saved in his bank account. Your children are screwed.

The subway costs $6 to ride now. Each way. You consider taking a taxi when you're running late but then you realize that you couldn't afford the $10 initial fair with the $2 additional click every other minute. You're doing a lot of walking as a result. You're in great shape. Good for you. Here is the one bright side to all this price hiking.

New York City is now unofficially an island of rich people. All the projects have been emptied, with the inhabitants left to move to Indiana, and their previous homes have been developed into malls. There is a beautiful new mall on Columbus running from 101st to 105th. You will find in there a Body Shop, Banana Republic and of course, a Prada. People, who are not rich, like you, have an incredibly hard time keeping up with the Joneses. So you have decided to cut back on luxuries like that once-a-month ice cream cone you used to enjoy during the summer time. Or that quarterly (yearly, for some) movie that you saw in the Sony Theater, where admission is $30. You no longer attend concerts or sporting events and in fact, all the aforementioned have gotten so expensive that they attract smaller crowd--the events are now held in smaller venues because only a select few can afford to go. Last week, U2 played in someone's living room in the East Village. Tickets were $4,000 each. That is their only New York show.

You have thought about maybe moving out the City but you can?t afford to move right now. The thought of renting a moving van and packing up scares you. Your therapist, who is $250 an hour, tells you that you have a detachment issue. You can't leave the city because you are too attached to it. You know he's right. You hate him for it.

You also hate the Mayor because he has done nothing to make things easier. His term, which has been coined as "Bloomberg II: The Horror" is over soon but not soon enough. And besides, the damage is done. We have already suffered enough.

So smoke 'em if you got 'em. Well, that is if you can afford 'em.

Thursday, May 01, 2003


April 11th, 2003

9:57 AM: Today I sold a hot dog the earliest I ever have. 9:43 AM! I says to him that the dogs aren't done yet but this guy still insisted that I give him one. "I don't care if it's raw because they're pre-cooked," he told me. And I'm like, yeah, I know that. I sell hot dogs for a living.

10:32 AM: If you will allow me to get deep for a moment, I've noticed in between my mustard squirting that people are getting pretty impatient nowadays. And I don't particularly like rudeness. This lady says to me the other day, "how long will it take for me to get a hot dog?" And I says, how long it will take you to walk to the next hot dog vendor. She looks at me so horrified, like I just spit on her hot dog. So then I serve her the hot dog but to be honest, I did spit on it.

11:36 AM: Ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut.

11:44 AM: Ketchup, onions

12:22 PM: This is when it gets really busy. This guy is asking me why I'm writing now instead of serving hot dogs. So I'm putting my journal down.

12:24 PM: Hot dogs are so unhealthy. Perhaps my selling them is what they call an heretical dilemma?

12:41 PM: I don't usually use deoderant. What's the point?

12:55 PM: This woman just ordered 3 hot dogs and a diet coke. Why the diet coke, I ask her? I mean, you are eating three hot dogs already. And she says, none of my business. And I says back, apparently it is because I'm the guy selling you your diet coke.

1:03 PM: Mustard, onions, relish

1:15 PM: I overhear this lady talking to her husband about how she wasn't "planning on getting pregnant, it just happened." He looks upset. Really upset. So I turns to them and I says, you know, I didn't plan on selling hot dogs all my life. And I seem to be doing alright.

1:35 PM: The lunch time crowd seems to be slowing down. This is my favorite part of the day. The calm after the sun.Sometimes I think if maybe I should be doing something else like selling peanuts, those candy coated peanuts that are so good. But I don't think I would enjoy it. There's too much monotony. You take peanuts and put them in a bag. With the hot dogs, every one you serve is different. I like that, being able to customize a hot dog. It's like we share a bond, me and the customers. On occasion, I have to fight the urge to hug someone. I just put mustard on your hot dog and it's possible that I love you because of it.

2:21 PM: A knish, a hot dog with mustard and relish.

2:45 PM: I'm from Russia. I'm just telling you because people always ask.

3:16 PM: My wife says that maybe I should not eat some many hot dogs during the day. She works as a secretary and I tell her back, then you shouldn't read so many words.This is where our argument ends usually.

3:38 PM: Mustard. Only mustard.

4:20 PM: Unfortunately I am so busy during the day I cannot wrte as often as I would like into my journal. If I had my way, I would only write in my journal. No, I would sell hot dogs but not in Manhattan. I would love to sell hot dogs in San Francisco (get it? I made a joke--hot dogs and San Francisco?!? I'm sure it is funnier in Russian)

4:46 PM: Ketchup, sauerkraut

5:00 PM: My day is over so I go home.This is my happiest part of the day because this is when I count my money up to see how much I've made. Although, sometimes it could be my saddest part of the day. It really all depends on how many hot dogs I've sold.