Monday, June 30, 2003






"[Your cell phone number so hot people could call you immediatley] "












*Naomi's and Daphna's suggestions. Please contact them for copyrighting clearance.


"MY INSTANT MESSENGER NAME IS _________ (fill in your own here)"



Thursday, June 26, 2003


PREMISE: The main character, Tim, is an guitar tech who is also a vampire and has a friend nicknamed "Tagline." Tagline only speaks in advertising slogans and Tim, a little slow on the uptake, responds to every one. They also spend a great deal of their time with the Ghost of Vincent Van Gogh who has no patience for Tim and his shenanigans.

These are three scenes from the first episode.

TIM: Man, what a rough day at work. There was this one guitar that...[talking while looking in the fridge]...HEY! Who drank my blood....?"
[Tagline walks into room; audience breaks into applause]
Tagline: Just do it.
Tim: Just do what? I think I did it yesterday already. And who drank my blood?
Tagline: You want it, you got it. Toyota.
Tim: Yes, I wanted it but no, I didn't get it. There's no blood in this fridge. I had a tough day at work and all I wanted was a nice cup of AB+.
Tagline: Welcome to Marlboro Country.
Tim: Wha...? You're welcoming me? This is my apartment.
Tagline: Hey, you never know.
Tim: Yes, I do know. In fact, I have the signed lease right here.
Tagline: All you need is a dollar and a dream.
Tim: Well, actually I needed a lot more than that. Don't you remember I had to get my dad to co-sign the place.
[Van Gogh walks in]
Van Gogh: Hello, fools.
Tim: Geez, Vince, what happened to your ear? It's gone.
Van Gogh: Long story.
Tagline: Aren't you hungry for Burger King now?
Tim: Dude, I keep kosher! You knew that.
Van Gogh: No, you fool. He was merely quoting....
Tagline: It's Miller Time.
Tim: No, actually it's 5:45. Hey, Van did you drink my blood?
Van Gogh: You drink blood?
Tim: Yeah, I'm a vampire. You knew that...seriously, what happened to your ear?
Van Gogh: I'm hungry. Let's get dinner.

[Tim, Tagline and Van Gogh all head to Subway to dine on sandwiches]
Tagline: Subway, eat fresh.
Tim: I can't eat here. I keep kosher, guys. I guess I could sit here and play air guitar.
[Tim begins to play air guitar]
Van Gogh: Get a Coke and a ketchup packet. And stop playing air-guitar. You look like a moron.
Tagline: It just feel right.
Tim: Yes, it does feel right.
Tagline: Understanding comes with Time.
Subway employee: Can I take your order?
Van Gogh: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you. Can you speak in my good ear?
Subway employee: Can I please take your order?
Van Gogh: Oh, yes. I'll take a ham sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
Tim: Ham?
Van Gogh: I like pig.
Tagline: Priceless.
Tim: Pig? it's actually pretty cheap.
Tagline: Never leave home without it.
Tim: My wallet? I have it with me. Why? Do you need to borrow money?
Van Gogh: Geez, I'm sitting down.
Subway employee: Can I help you, sir?
Tagline: Snap, crackle, pop.
Subway employee: I'm afraid that's not on our menu. Can I get you something else?
Tim: Just order something else and don't give [Tim looks at name tag] "Feliciano" a hard time.
Tagline: Just for the taste of it.
Tim; I don't think you can get taste tests here. This isn't a Tasti-D-Lite.
[The Ghost of Van Gogh's Girlfriend walks in]
Girlfriend: There you are, Vincent! What was this ear doing in my mailbox?
Tim: You sent your ear to your girlfriend???
Van Gogh: How else was I supposed to tell her how I felt for her?
Tim: Uhhh....send her a Hallmark card.
Tagline: When you care to send the very best.
Tim: Exactly.
Girlfriend: Here. Take your ear back. I don't want it.
Van Gogh: What the hell am I supposed to do with it now?
Tim: Oh God! I didn't notice but they serve garlic here. No wonder I can't breath well.
Van Gogh: Drama queen.
Girlfriend: OK, I'm leaving. I need to go give blood at the blood drive.
Tim: Can I come?
Girlfriend: Sure.

[Hours later at Tim's apartment]
Tim: HELLO? Anybody home?
Van Gogh: Yo. What's up?
Tim: Man, your girlfriend was O+. You can't buy that stuff. That was gold.
Van Gogh: Cool. Glad you enjoyed.
Tagline: Yeah, we've got that.
Tim: You have O+? Why didn't you tell me this?
Van Gogh: Staples, you dummy. Staples.
Tagline: In the road of life, there are drivers and there are passengers.
Tim: How true.
Tagline: Drivers wanted.
Tim: Now? Let me get my car keys. And my Van Halen mix.
Van Gogh: Ach, buffoons. I gotta go paint. Good night.
Tim: When you gotta go, you gotta Van Gogh. Ha ha ha. Get it?
Van Gogh: [Sigh] I wish I had cut off both ears.
Tagline: It's the right beer now.

[Audience applauds. Curtains go down]

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

A Sickening Display of Hero Worship by A.D.

I'm not afraid to admit it. I have a genuine, unadulterated man-crush on Dave Eggers and I don't feel that my heterosexuality is threatened in any way. Sure, I love women and I date them exclusively but I would easily give up an evening out with Giselle for an hour of coffee with Dave Eggers.
And while I will be quite forthright and vocal about my admiration for him and his accomplishments, I find it most disheartening when I have to defend my appreciation for all-things Eggers, as if he was a popular band and it just wasn't cool anymore to like him.

When some ask me to name my favorite books, I will immediately respond with 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius." And almost as if they were reading a script that hadn't yet been written, they would roll their eyes and make a snide remark along the lines of:
"I don't get him."
"I found that book a bit too ironic."
"I'm thirsty. What do you have to drink?"
These comments infuriate me because I sometimes question their reaction and the intentions behind it. I ask myself:
- Did they really read the whole book? Because you need to read the whole thing to have a truly valid opinion. It's like saying after a really hard Tuesday at work, "man, this week is hell." You don't know whether the rest of the week will be hell or not, now do you?
- Or maybe the reader was not into the whole postmodern angle. Maybe, just maybe, this isn't the type of writing he or she is looking for. Maybe Mr. and Ms. Reader were more comfortable reading books by Jane Austen and by everyone's favorite bookshelf decoration, Ayn Rand?
- Ahhh, the aforementioned Popularity Backlash. Sometimes true art can exist in the world of commercialism and when this happens, we need to punish the artist because they are undoubtedly a "sell-out." Dave Eggers has to be a sell-out, some will say. I mean, the book sold sooo many copies.
This last perspective is the saddest because the reader may have actually enjoyed the meta-memoir but abandons it anyway like it was a recipient of a naive high school crush who turned out to be a shallow slut. Oh, the betrayal.

But what people don't realize that none of this is Dave Eggers' fault. He wrote a book--a damn good one, at that--with a title that included the words "heartbreaking," "staggering" and "genius." Them's fighting words, indeed. Those words conjured up others like "pretentious," "conceited," "braggy," "incredulous." Critics wanted to hate this book (although they didn't).
Well, if you are "hip" to Eggers' methods (and I don't mean that in a condescending way and who even knows if I am) and his style and sense of humor, you'll figure it out that he's being facetious. He doesn't mean it. It disguises the awkwardness of putting out a book so honest, so pure, so--yes--heartbreaking that he had no choice but to mock it first. It's almost like the time I worked for three days straight on a color-war banner in summer camp. I put everything I could into it. My blood, my sweat--and yes, my tears. But when we were finally ready to present it to the camp, I laughed it off, almost belittling it with an obligatory eye-roll, by calling it "an absolute work of art' and then chuckling afterwards. I was afraid of failure and criticism so I beat the judges to the punch.
So, the problem is maybe you can't hear Eggers' dismissive awkward laughter or see his eye-roll. Imagine it now:

"A heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Aha ha ha ha [eye-roll]."
Almost translated to; I am naked before you. I have revealed every single nuance of my life. I am brazen enough to make a joke out of it before you can. So there.
Does that make any difference to you? Does it make you actually want to get past the first chapter? Huh, slacker? I'm talking to you.

But wait, here's the crazy part--the title is actually pretty accurate. As far as I'm concerned, the book is heartbreaking, staggering, and genius. His first full length was so raw and emotional, it may have made some people uncomfortable like a good comedian breaks taboos. But AHWSG did wonders for me. It inspired me in a way that no other art had before. This is the book that convinced me to write. Seriously.
Before I read this book, I wrote emails, the occasional Evite response, a shopping list or two, and maybe a couple hundred birthday card messages. Other than that, I was outlet-less. I was as creative as a Brendan Frasier movie (which is not so creative, incidentally). Then I picked up a book--although I can't remember why I did--and devoured every page. While reading AHBWSG, I related to the tone, the flow. I wanted to express myself exactly as he did. I felt Dave Eggers metaphorically headbutt me but instead of hard contact, his brain melded into mine as if he was moving inside my skull with his Ikea loveseat.
The experience of reading this book was even a sort of deja vu except I had never actually gone through the scenes, the setting or the dialogue. Nevertheless it felt familiar because the sentences were like the ones I would have used. The ones I should have used if I had been writing all this time.

In fact, his book inspired me to write my first story about the time I met Dave Eggers. It was a 15 page account, albeit creative non-fiction, of the sweat-inducing, starstruck conversation I had with him. I loved writing it and I wanted to keep doing things like that. Writing, it seemed, was cathartic and liberating. The act of putting words on paper (or cyberspace) was the closest I would get to streaking in public.

And so I continued to do so. Heck, this blog exists because I read that book.

The third time I met Dave (I have to skip a great deal for brevity's sake. My readership has repeatedly told me that they don't have the patience they all once had), he wrote down a list of tips for being a good writer, or in the case of the conversation we were having, a good music journalist.
This is what he said:

1. Be Smart
2. Read Nick (Hornby; he was referring to Hornby's music criticism)
3. Know your magazines
4. Be nice.
5. Be confident.
6. Be humble
7. Be positive
8. Be nice. Everyone likes nice people.
9. Keep smiling despite it all.
10. Send me some of your writing.
11. You will do it. This I know.

I will cherish this list forever because the person I believe in, in return, believed in me (see #11). Every time I look at this inscription, I have confidence renewed. I remember the first time I read his book and then realize how writing indeed makes you feel more alive than any cup of coffee. Even if that coffee is strong.
As cheesy as this all sounds, I thank Dave for doing this. He will never know about this but this is the kind of impact you can have on people given the circumstances. I will never forget that.

Thank you, Dave.

In truth, I could write so much more on this topic because as you can tell, I am passionate about it. And I can't really expect everyone to agree with me or see "it" my way. Because when I think about it, this is art and no matter how opinionated I am about art, it is still a very individualistic experience. There is nothing objectively genius.
Which is fine. I understand that. I even encourage you to use this argument with me when we discuss Eggers. When you say you didn't particularly like this book and I say back, well, then, you don't know what you're talking about.

Monday, June 23, 2003


Last night I invited Sarah Jessica Parker and Audrey Tautou into my apartment but eventually only Ms. Tautou was asked to stay. Because Sarah, or "Carrie" as she was referred to last night, is not the company I like to keep. She's selfish, superficial, immoral, self-absorbed, shallow. And most of all, she knows nothing about music. Audrey, or also known as "Amelie," is the girl I dream about, the girl I look for in the streets of Manhattan, even though I know she doesn't really exist. She's shy, insecure, imaginative, creative, resourceful, generous, thoughtful and quirky. No, she doesn't know much about music, either, but her facial expressions are musical in their own right. They are the songs I will never forget.

Moreover, Amelie Poulain is cute, natural, and so disarming I am practically left without arms. She has taken both the left one and the right one. And she will not give them back.
Carrie Bradshaw is "too" sexy, a creation made of shoes, nice dresses, make-up and great hair stylists, and after a while, so annoying that I am forced to change the channel before I gnaw my own hand off. And what makes this character even sadder is that I actually know so many people like Carrie in real life. That there are so many people in New York City and beyond who wish more than anything to be just like Ms. Bradshaw. That truly freaks me out. In fact, it keeps me up at night.

And after living in the city for almost five years, it's become very clear that there is truly no shortage of Carrie Bradshaws and sex and the city. Sex is more or less everywhere. In the office. In the bars, in the streets. Every-freakin'-where. This city has a Polish cleaning ladylike reek of sex. It's that potent. But what this great metropolis doesn't have much of, is romance. Romance and the city is just not the show we're watching. Because romance is "oh so boring." Yawn. It doesn't have the tumultuous nature of destructive relationships, the high dramatic thrill of doomsville dating. Courting for the sake of getting your rocks off is important. It's not substance, Carrie tells us, substance is too intimidating.

After five seasons on HBO, I have found Carrie and SEX AND THE CITY morally repugnant. A strong Jerry Falwell-like statement, indeed. One that I don't make so often. Granted, I may be somewhat old-fashioned and traditional in my perspective on dating. And it's probably accurate that I am not the target market for the show (even though I do know some men who watch it) but nevertheless, it's affecting the women around me. For the worse. The masses are embracing this show under the guise of empowerment, a feminist victory in a male-dominated world. Here are four women living the social scene as men do. Viewing the world as meat in the all-you-can-eat-buffet of life.

The only problem is, that no one ever said men were right for being like that. In fact, for years upon years, the chauvinist behavior was condemned. What happened? Why is suddenly OK for women to whistle at male construction workers, just as long as they do it first? Do we now justify our behavior by rationalizing "well, they do it, too?" (To which my mother would ask, would you also jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if they did?)

AMELIE, on the other hand, is one of my favorite movies. It has a grace, an eloquence so vibrant, it's almost visual poetry. The colors defy standard Crayon desciptions. The television on which you watch AMELIE smiles at you, puts its arm around you. But what makes this movie so captivating and moving and inspirational is Audrey Tautou and her character, Amelie. While watching the movie last night (for the 20th time), I yearned to know her or someone like her (when was the last time you actually yearned?) while in contrast, I groaned, knowing that I had too many people like Carrie in my life and wished I hadn't.

And I will admit, not all is pretty roses; harsh reality dictates that AMELIE could never happen in real life while the "plots" in SEX AND THE CITY actually could and have taken place (in this case life doesn't just imitate art, sometimes it's a xerox copy). And every time I watch the French masterpiece I am left with a glowing warm feeling, a feeling of hope for the resurgence of romance, but I am also somewhat empty because I know how fictional this movie is. Because romance is not everywhere, like in Poulain's France, while superficiality and unfortunate relationships are in overstock. Some may argue, saying, well, don't watch AMELIE because you'll just be disappointed. At least when you watch SATC, you won't feel let down because your expectations are so low.
And I would say back, that's a sad, sad place to be. That's like Newark, New Jersey, dude.

See, I grew up watching musicals. I saw Gigi, The King And I, Hello Dolly, The Sound of Music, etc. I had a very positive outlook on relationships. I expected to fall in love one day with a great dame and then break into spontaneous song every few minutes. Well, I then eventually got dumped in the ninth grade and things were pretty much downhill from there. Now, the spontaneous song is more like spontaneous stomach pains.

AMELIE brings me back to that feeling I had in my youth. The sweetness, the naivete, the concept I internalized of going out for a fancy meal, dancing on balconies, and kissing one another good night. Nothing more. Not the one-night stands. Not the animal carnal-like romps. Nor the emptiness of waking next to someone you may not even know. None of this.

I can't help but recall a specific episode of SATC I once accidentally left on, where Carrie encourages her friend, Charlotte, to abandon her own wedding because the man Charlotte is marrying is not the most ideal sexual partner. I don't remember the specific shortcoming, but I know it was fixable. What shocked me was that Carrie was sucking any remote romantic element of the ceremony and shaping it into that of a purely sexual nature. As if there was nothing more to marriage besides the ole' in 'n' out. As if Charlotte should run at the first sign of imperfection because a life of promiscuity made so much more sense.

This episode hurt me. It hurt me like trying to ride a bike for the first time and then falling off. In front of all your friends. Because here was a union that was allegedly so pure, so wonderful but also something that could be simplified to a matter of "yes" or "no." And both options were sadly of equal weight.

The world that Amelie Poulain inhabits would never have let this happen. And even though, as I've mentioned already, the movie gives me a somewhat false sense of security and romance, at least, we're talking about security and romance. At least, they're actual topics of conversation as opposed to nostalgia we scoff at.

At the end of AMELIE, we see our titular character happy and overjoyed in a relationship that looks fulfilling, playful and meaningful. She seems at peace with herself. We are happy for her.
In contrast, at the end of just about every SATC episode, (so I'm told) Carrie is left conflicted, pensive, and somewhat miserable, debating with herself about "love." She is unhappy and confused, looking for love in all the wrong places.

And I can't help but wonder; wait, how is this empowering?

Friday, June 20, 2003

I saw the Broken Social Scene last night and it was brilliant. I interviewed them before the show and they are extremely fine gentlemen (and one woman). And even though I posted this review four months ago, I need to "re-release" it (with extra footage). People need to buy this album and so I will force feed you the praise until you learn that this. Is. Good. For. You.

Album recommendation of the week:


This album has sat down with my brain, had coffee with it and then politely asked my medulla oblongata to use the 87% that's been neglected all these years. My brain is more than happy to comply. My brain has said, please come in and get to know the Neurons. My brain is welcoming like that.
"You Forget It In People" lies somewhere in-between an accessible album and a difficult masterpiece, it sounds like something completely new while simultaneously reminds you of all the great rock albums you've cherished in the past. This is the sound of people that are too smart, dumbing themselves down a tad (for you) and then recording actual songs with structures, choruses and trite stuff like that.
The Scene that is Broken and Social, a large collective from out of nowhere...or Montreal, Canada (same thing), took a break from their respective pretentious instrumental projects and decided to Franzen* indie-rock.
(*the act of defying a chosen art as it lies in its current dormant state; arousing the consumer audience with something that is both commercial and artful. See Jonathan Franzen's Harper's essay on how he challenged the American novel and then wrote the Corrections).
To be honest, I'm not even sure who to compare this band with. One minute I hear Yo La Tengo, the next Jeff Buckley, then I hear the Pixies or Dinasour Jr....soon thereafter there are jam-like allusions to Built to Spill... so many musical ingredients all smooshed together. It's an indie-rock smoothie.
Just listen to the anthem "Almost Crimes" and remember what it's like to have a crush on music. Then play "Lover's Spit" and recall the heartbreak that sometimes follows.
These 13 songs make an album that makes me happy about being a music fan. Yes, this spontaneous output reminds me about the wonders of searching for a hidden treasure. Music like "You Forgot It In People," people, shows us that we need to be thankful for friends that can turn us on to new things and this time, that friend was Catonia.
Now, I'm thirsty for a smoothie.

For further reading on Broken Social Scene, go to:|PM&sql=Aa9fexqtaldje

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Outside my office, a bus drove by with a digital sign in the window that said "out of service."

And I thought, hmm, where could I get one of those signs for my brain?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003


I saw "Hollywood Homicide" and throughout this atrocious film, all I could think about was how the people in 'Nam felt in the P.O.W. camps. I was contemplating whether killing myself would end the pain that much quicker. The only hope I had was seeing the day when I would watch the end credits. Oh, those end credits possessed such glorious, drool-inducing hope. The kind of hope that keeps you warm on those cold, air-conditioned afternoons in the office where the maintenance people have a really hard time distinguishing between -43 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Harrison, how could you have done this to me? How could you have raped my eyes with a visual crime as heinous as "Hollywood Homicide?" How could you have fooled some of the critics who actually told me (not personally, but am I not the only person who reads that this movie was ok, albeit a summer-blockbuster-ok?

And to be honest, I expected nothing--NOTHING, I TELL YOU!--from Josh Hartnett. After all, he is the man, the eye candy, the shallow "hunk" that gave us "40 Days and 40 Nights" which had Noah--I assure you--rolling in his grave. Harrison, Harrison, Harrison. You once had charm. You once had talent, the ability to make a wisecrack out of the smirking side of your mouth and then make me laugh. LAUGH! Ha ha hahah. Like that. But not this time. Instead, I cried tears of frustration. Of anger. Of pain and rejection. Because you rejected me, the audience, and told me that my $10 was all you needed from me. Not my pleasure. Not my cinematic fulfillment. You wanted none of that. You wanted to sit at home on 72nd and Central Park West with Calista and count your bank account which included my hard-earned $10, forced out of me like an elementary school bully steals lunch money. You are that bully, Harrison. Yes, you. And I am the nerdy kid who has just made in his pants.

I hope you can sleep at night knowing that I will never be able to see Indy or Han in the same light anymore. Because they were so tremendous then, bigger than any movie screen could contain. But last night your character was so small, I had to squint to see him. With my thick lenses in my "trendy" "alternative" glasses, I had to squint.

I want my $10 back, Harry. And one day I will get it. I will show up at your house and I will knock on the door and I will say, Harrison, I am Arye.
And you will say, who the hell are you?
And I will say, I want my ten dollars back for "Hollywood Homicide."
And then you will say back, you saw that trash?
At least, that's what I hope you'll say. I have to believe in that. I have to because you're an icon of my childhood and if you're taken away then what's to say the rest of the world won't slip away as well?

Christopher Reeves is paralyzed.
Mark Hammill is doing voice-overs for a Pamela Anderson cartoon called "Striperella (no, seriously)."
Mr. T has cancer.
Todd Bridges is in jail.
And the Hulk looks more like Shrek (and Lou Ferrigno could easily kick his ass).
I need you to be better in the future, Harrison. Dump Calista (she forced you to do this, didn't she?) and do some credible indie flick. Pull a Pulp Fiction/Travolta (but do not, I repeat, do not accept any romantic comedies about an angel that comes to Earth). Do it because you can. Because you must. Because I need to sleep again with the comfort of knowing all is well and that you will finally be at peace with my $10. And that sacrifice, that financial sacrificial lamb was necessary to get to a better place.

Need I bring up your line when you said "you have the right to remain silent," as you began to make out with your girlfriend. And she said back, "You've been a naughty cop. No donuts for you."
I mean, who writes this crap? Fabio?

[My apologies to Jenny who was mentally violated last night, as well. Misery indeed loves company and it apparently also likes frequenting the Loews in Union Square]

Monday, June 16, 2003


I am perplexed by almost all women. With the rare exception of my three year old cousin, who, now that I think about, is really a girl, not yet a woman. But to be honest, the girls perplex me, too. Not all the time but some of the time. Like when they talk so loud in public. Haven't they heard about the indoor voice?

I need to buy more milk tonight. I think we're out.

The end.

Thursday, June 12, 2003


First off, I want you to know that most of our members are seniors and juniors...hahaha....that's what we call the little ones: "Juniors." I thought of that one. Well, anyway, they like to pee wherever they want. Loose bladders and it may be laziness or it just may be like this fetish thing where they like to pee in the pool because its almost not allowed but anyHOO, they make in the pool. So, don't go drinking the water. Not that pee is so bad for you. I think I saw a movie once where Kevin Costner drinks his own urine.

No, we don't have the "We don't swim in your toilet, so don't pee in out pool" sign. But I sure wish we did.

Nope, not the "Ool. Notice there's no "P" in it/ Let's keep it that way" sign either. Thats one's a classic. Ha ha ha.

Oh, and I've gotten some complaints about leering in the locker room. Some people like to be leered at. This is your perogative. If you like leering, then great. But if not, then you should know about some random people seeing your you-know-what. Ha haha. Ooh, sorry, now I'm blushing.

Sometimes the seniors....yah, I spoke about them before...yes, the ones with the urine...sometimes they pretend to swim but in reality, they're not doing much. They're more llike floating. I call it the "turtle stroke." Ha haha . Yes, another goodie by me. Indeed.

NO. God forbid, we do not allow that in the pool. So don't worry. Even if I come down there personally and tell them that there is no toe-nail clipping on the pool side. I will do that.

Ok, great talking to you, too.

Me? Oh, I'm just "swimming" in work. Hahahahah...I know, I know. I kill myself sometimes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

- The other day, my brother-in-law asked me, if you use the same towel every day after you shower AND you're definetely always clean when you get out of that shower, then why do you have to put that towel in the laundry?
I'm not sure, I said back.
A ha, he said.

Living History
By Hillary Clinton

Granted a picture is worth a thousand words but is a book worth $8 million? That's a good question considering Hillary Clinton's new memoir, LIVING HISTORY, will probably never make it to my night stand reading pile. I'm just not that interested in her story. I mean, wasn't she at home in the kitchen the whole time making dinner? It's not like she saw anything of interest.
Fun fact: did you know that I am only one degree away from the ex-First Lady? My mom met her once at a school function and my mom says--this is all true because I have the picture to prove it--that Hillary seems "like a smart woman." I know. Absolutely incredible. i was like, are you serious?
Incidentally, my mom also met Bill Clinton and we have a picture of that, too. I remember thinking, when I saw the picture, Ok, Billy, where are your hands? Hmmm...there's the right one...and.....let's see...whew, ok, there's the left one. Good Billy.
In truth, I think the reason Hillary makes me so uncomfortable is because she just seems like someone who could be a principal in a Yeshivah elementary school. I can so see her yelling, OK, NO RUNNING IN THE HALLS, PLEASE. And on occasion, I would be sitting outside her office, waiting for her to call me in and I'd be really nervous because she would definetely call home. And she would be on the phone and she would TOTALLY make small talk first like, so, how's everything at home, Mrs. Dworken? Wonderful. Yes...yes. No, things are going well with Bill. Ha ha ha....yes, I see. Well, that's good to hear but the reason I'm calling is because your son beat up his math teacher.

More: Mrs. Clinton did a signing yesterday at Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue. Seriously, for a really long time, I thought it was Barnes & NobleS. Plural on both names. But one day I actually looked at the sign and discovered, gee, I guess it's just "Noble." I guess one Noble was enough while they still needed plenty of Barnes. I wonder why that's so...was Barne not pulling his weight?

Sunday, June 08, 2003


One of the most difficult things about being a music critic is to detach "the me" from the music I am criticizing. Leaving all preconceived notions at the front door with my coat and my umbrella. Hovering above the song and looking at it from a distance, judging it in its own merit like a critical airplane flying over an aural landscape. And moreover, I sometimes wonder how can I realistically and objectively approach music by certain musicians when I am already convinced that I will love it because I have always loved what they have done. And before I even purchase (or download) the album I know that I will be impressed just as you are sure to enjoy a meal in your favorite restaurant.

Is that problematic? Does that make me any less trustworthy as a critic? In most instances, I would say that yes, perhaps it does. Perhaps you should listen to someone more skeptical and cynical. Someone who is not so easily sold.

But in the case of Radiohead, that is virtually impossible. Because they always have and always will meet our expectations. And in some cases, even surpass them.

On Thursday June 5th, 2003 Radiohead came to New York City and played the Beacon Theater, the smallest venue we're likely to see them in nowadays. That same night, the Jewish people celebrated Shavuot, the holiday that commemorated the day we received our Torah thousands upon thousands of years ago on Mt. Sinai. I personally was offered a free ticket and was tremendously conflicted about going but I turned the ticket down (I later realized that I wasn't even in town for the show). What was it about this band that made me think about--for a split second-- compromising an undying tradition for what I thought to be a historic show? Why was this performance almost as inspiring as re-enacting the beginning of my religion (I realize the blasphemous nature of this statement and for that I apologize)? I have been thinking about this a great deal; why a collective of five media-shy, unapproachable Englishmen "speak" to me as powerfully as Radiohead does?

I have wrestled with the aforementioned questions, making them beg for mercy, because I want to verbalize my appreciation for Radiohead and I want others to share it with me. I finally want my friends to admit that I’m not as crazy as they thought I was and that there really is much to get inspired and excited by. I want them to trust me because I am telling them to starting listening for their own good. This is important just like vitamins.

[Deep breath] Now, how do I verbalize the passion and the fury? How do I communicate to you the thrill of being a die-hard Radiohead fan so you too will say, I want in. I’m with you, Arye.

 Well, hopefully like this: (Enter presumptuous, sweeping statement here) There is no band like Radiohead existing in our time. Yes, there were bands like Pink Floyd, the Beatles, even U2 (remember when ACHTUNG BABY reinvented the radio?) but no one is testing the limits like Radiohead is within our plateau of mass culture. No band is pushing the envelope, sending a letter of mind-numbing creativity to the masses like these guys are. Their uncompromising artistry is admired by all, envied by most and disliked by few.
Two months ago, their new album, which is released officially on June 10th, was leaked on the Internet. For thousands of fervent fans this was like getting a sneak peak at your Chanukah presents. The gift is not yours yet to own but you still know what you'll be getting. And that is satisfying enough (buying the album is still necessary because Radiohead's artwork is part of the package and makes the album worth purchasing). I downloaded the album, HAIL TO THE THEIF, almost immediately and listened to it over and over again. I loved it. I absorbed. I took it in like a bottle of water after running a marathon. It was everything I wanted them to give me. Almost as if they showed up to my apartment months ago and said, Arye, what is it that you want to hear?

And over these two months, while I have been dissecting the instruments, the words, the paintings of sounds, I played Devil's Advocate to my ears accusing them of liking HTTT because simply enough, it was by Radiohead. Because I've never disliked anything this band has produced. Not their first album, PABLO HONEY, a raw, "alternative," radio-friendly and certainly inoffensive effort. Not their second timeless and first masterpiece, THE BENDS, which still gives me the chills. Nor the following record, OK COMPUTER, which is an unadulterated trip into paranoia, insecurity, self-analysis and also their second masterpiece. This album will never cease to amaze me, sort of like a loved one that you fall more in love with every time you see her/him. And then came the double punch of experimental wonderment, KID A and AMNESIAC, which angered some because it was less consistent with their previous efforts. I loved them because they felt like reading diary entries. They were personal, whispered into my ear, almost gossipy. I wanted to hear more but I also felt guilty about hearing it in the first place. These were songs that not everyone could understand but maybe it was because so many did not speak the language. Like a witch hunt of our time, Radiohead was accused of being difficult, trying to test the patience of the public and no one wanted to hear the rational explanation. They were merely saying, you all bought our last album. Well, we need to progress. And here are two that will challenge you. Are you up to it, they asked?

I enthusiastically responded, YES! YES! I am!

Well, rejoice you of the sensitive ear! HTTT is the happy compromise of handholding and the frustrating refusal to be "commercial" that you've been waiting for. It's almost as if Radiohead was accutely aware of all the fans turned off by KID A and AMNESIAC and was saying, seriously, we're sorry about all that. We needed to get it out of our system but please come back. Please play this album in your dorm rooms while sitting on your Urban Outfitters couch.

The first song "2+2=5" is an inspiring beginning. It's a four part epic masterpiece in four and a half minutes. It starts out with a wounded gentle Thom Yorke singing you into a lull of security. A minute and a half in, it stops, and things get eerie. A sunny day transformed into a dark cloudy gloom. And then two minutes and four seconds in, guitars explode like an unrelenting thunderstorm, crashing in on our feeble heads, a toxic rain that so many of us New Yorkers know too well. Following that, the rain becomes consistent and we are no longer afraid to step outside. We embrace the rain. We even open our mouths to taste the drops.

And again, that is just the first song.

As the album progresses, we hear "Sail To The Moon" which feels exactly like the titular activity. The scented-candle-like sway of the guitar and the piano bring you close to the lunar landscape. This could be what an astronaut feels like when gravity denies him a simple activity such as walking on the ground. Thom Yorke's voice is floating and you are floating along with it. It is beauty incarnate. It’s the Rose Planetarium that wants to be heard and not seen.

The most accessible songs, the ones that are like caffeine for the heart or chicken soup for the soulless, "There There" and "Where I End And You Begin,” are epitomes of imposing feelings into music. In the hey-day of pop and Matrixes (the songwriting team that brought you Avril Lavigne), it’s so spring-day-glorious to hear urgency in music, to feel what it is like to be wounded just by listening. When Yorke “sings at the conclusion of “Where I End…” “I will eat you alive…there’ll be no more lies,” you understand the pain of being lied to. You relate to his frustration with being deceived. The song helps you conjure a time when you also wanted to eat someone alive for making you feel like the object of such malicious betrayal.

“There There,” the first single off this album, interestingly enough is a massive statement by the band. “Just ‘cause you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there…” may be a response to the accusatory media that’s bestowed so much political relevance to this album (the band denies that HAIL TO THE THIEF is alluding the George Bush). Or it could be the frustration felt by a band that has been put on the highest of pedestals for creating epic, grand art and ambiguous lyrics that many misinterpret. Whatever the statement is, though, the song with its muddy-consistent rhythm sections drudges along like a dinosaur looking for dinner. It’s hungry, wanting, vicious and plodding.

Despite the rumors awhile back, HTTT is not a rocking album. It has its rocking moments but overall it’s neither bombastic nor spastic. It just maintains the self-conscious weirdness that has made Radiohead so endearing in the past. The band that is aware of its quirks and it is sort-of fine with that.

But what makes this band and album so revelatory is that every member is a genius at what he does. Guitarist Johnny Greenwood is the Jackson Pollock of the six-string, randomly throwing colorful strokes that make a beautiful finished product, a work of chaos that from a distance seems so logical. Drummer, Phil Selway is the unsung, or unheard, hero that carries the others out of the burning building. He saves lives and songs. Ed O’Brian, the other guitarist and tallest member of the band, is the balance to Johnny’s insanity. The two of them together create a penetration of the ears and mind that know no mercy or restraint. And the most enigmatic member, Colin Greenwood (Johnny’s brother) is the foundation of the haunted house that is Radiohead. Many will call Radiohead Yorke’s band but on repeated listens, that is far from the truth. While Yorke is an invaluable singer, he is only one-fifth of the pleasure.

And in truth, I could explain Radiohead’s sound and their new album for hours and hours more (that is the kind of discourse they inspire) but the only thing that would make you truly understand is by listening to the album yourself. Because it is an experience. It’s one of those, well-you-had-to-be-there’s.

Chances are you’ve already read a great deal of press on them being that they’ve graced just about every publication in recent weeks. And unlike a lot of times where magazines and papers are desperately looking for something—anything—to talk about, Radiohead deserves the insane coverage. Because they are the most exhilarating thing happening in music today. Honest. No exaggeration. 

Moreover, while a “music critic” like me has heard more music than any person should be subjected to, and while I have seen so many live shows that have left me with a that-was-ok feeling, Radiohead still makes me weak at the knees. Like I was a high school girl encountering her first crush. And when that is still possible, after I’ve become so jaded and have evolved into a self-declared know-it-all, it’s a refreshing glass of naively-made curbside lemonade. It is something that will excite me, entrance me, inspire me, make me feel like the world has yet revealed so many wonders and gifts to me. Listening to them is transformative. Yes, it’s that dramatic. It’s that real and lovely.

It’s even, dare I say it, somewhat religious.

Monday, June 02, 2003

- A man standing on the platform for the 1 & 9 trains was swinging an imaginary golf club, over and over. I went over to him and then jokingly said, "so...are you waiting for the fore?"

I'm in a bit of a foul mood today, so I present my LIST OF THINGS I REALLY DON'T LIKE ALL THAT MUCH:

- People who talk way too loud on the phone at work so everyone can hear that "well, I only have the babysitter tonight from seven to ten."
-Is it really so hard to say "hi?" Well, after constantly being the one to initiate the "hi"-and-polite-smile, I'm thinking it is. I am actually tired of saying "hi." I did not even think that that was possible.
- When I write an email and I don't get a response for hours, maybe even days ( I am a horrible hypocrite).
- People who claim that are "just too busy to meet up." This has been happening in NYC way too often. Seriously, is it me?
- Hot dogs that are boiled, not grilled
- Microsoft Outlook
- Telling someone you would be glad to help them out when you really aren't all that glad. In reality, making things more difficult for them would probably make you happier.
- Playa Hatas.
- That woman on everyone's voice mail service that has to explain to you how to leave a voice mail. Like, we don't know by now to leave a message after the tone? Do we really need her to explain it? I have wasted a large chunk of my life waiting for her to stop talking.
- The silly ten-minute dance sequence in the Matrix Reloaded. Is that really necessary?
- Deciding what I want to eat for lunch.
- How certain places charge 69 cents for an apple (ahem...Au Bon Pain) when I can get four for a dollar on 97th and Colombus.
- The fact that I'm not a millionaire is really annoying already.
- Custard.
- Most of the cast of Saturday Night Live.
- Actually, the whole cast.
- Oh my god, the phone next to me rings so damn loud too. You could probably hear it ringing in, like, China.
- Nowadays, most girls.
- The whole concept of ergonamics is a bit overlooked in office furniture. I would think my eventual crippling would be a concern of the human resources in this office. Perhaps we should take away the word 'human" from their department name. After all, they are very much not human. Humans, after all, care that my back is aching.
- Taking the L train.
- People who make their parties all the way downtown in a place that has two bouncers, a line, a cover charge and expensive drinks. I have two words for this people: "po" and "or."

This posting is so egocentric. It needs to stop. Now.