Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Please come back then for more of what we are doing, whatever that is. Thank you for your patronage.
We most certainly appreciate you. You should know that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Monday, April 18, 2005


April 18th, 2005 6:45 AM

I just woke up on my new mattress. Goose feathers my ass! You've never slept until you've snoozed on a bed stuffed with one hundred dollar bills. What a night's sleep like I've never had. Gosh, it would be just awful to not have one of these. It would be like being homeless. Speaking of which, why can't homless people dress better? Any self-respecting beggar should have a tie on. Hmmm...not a bad idea. I'm going to make that a law today; homeless people have to wear ties.

April 18th 7:30 AM

...or maybe they should be wearing a suit?

April 18th 8:30 AM

I wonder how much money I could get if I sold New York. I doing that already?

April 18th 9:22 AM

I was thinking that a great name for my memoir would be "Why Are There Middle Class People Still Living In New York (And How Do I Get Them Out?).

Things to do today:
- Name the Upper East Side "Bloombergville" or perhaps something more subtle like "Bloomberg's"
- Dispell any accusations that the MTA is corrupt.
- Collect my monthly payola from the MTA.
- Buy the Olympics so I can host it here in NY.
- Find out how much the Olympics cost. If it's not for sale, then have someone killed.

April 18th 10:12 AM

I've banned smoking. I've banned dancing. My team of consultants think I'm going too far if I ban drinking. Or maybe I should ban all drinks with the exception of my newly launched malt liquor named "Bloomberg Malt Ale" and target market it to the inner-cities with the instantly catchy campaign slogan "Make it Mike's." Then all the people in the inner-cities will spend their money on my malt ale and run out of cash and then have to move out to Jersey or Staten Island because the rent will rocket sky high even in their cockaroach-infested slums which, after they all move out, I will then develop into condos.
Note to self; buy a marketing team, a production line, a team of designers and a brewery for Bloomberg Malt Ale.

April 18th 11:46 AM

I am so f***ing rich. Seriously.

April 18th 12:45 PM

Okay, so I'm not sure if the gentleman I'm having lunch with is 50 Cent or the Game. I know I was supposed to have lunch with one of the rappers but I can't tell which one this is and why he can't speak English? Is this how he learned to speak in his prep school?

April 18th 1:35

Pataki has awful breath.

April 18th 2:30 PM


April 18th 3:37 PM

My assistant tells me that poor people are not as of yet wearing suits.

April 18th 4:01 PM

Koch was gay. Dinkins was useless. Guliani was mean. What's my niche? Is rich a niche? HA! RIch niche! That rhymes. Cool.

April 18th 4:59

Time to leave the office. I'm thinking of taking an early weekend and head up the Hamptons. My assistant tells me it's Monday and that would look bad if I left now. I tell my assistant, since when did I care about what the people think? And she says, but sir, you're running for re-election? And I said back, that's true but since when did I do anything in this office to make people like me. If there's anything i was hoping you would learn, my assistant--she doesn't mind when I call her "my assistant"--it's not the votes that matter, it's my piles and piles of money that does. I can buy votes like I bought that small gathering of illegal immigrants in my Upper East Side--oops, Bloombergville--apartment that clean all day long. Clean, clean, clean. So, see you next Monday, I tell her.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Beck Hansen is a beautiful man. His disarming boyish looks defy his actual age (it's hard to believe that he is indeed 34). His impossibly innocent eyes communicate that he is beyond record sales, marketing campaigns, or anything that could potentially taint his artistic pureness. Beck is an anomaly in the record industry; He constructs a pastiche of randomness and wins a Grammy for it (Odelay). Thereafter, he records a follow-up of retro-mutant psychedelica and gets raves reviews (the appropriately entitled Mutations). Then--the nerve!--he makes a record that is so screamingly ironic that surely it has to be sincere, a dance party jam embossed in hot pink pleather that sounds like the king to Prince's prince (Midnite Vultures). What could Beck possibly do next after releasing a make-out album for freaky robots and cyborg strippers from the future? Naturally, make an acoustic document of pain so stark and depressing that fans could only ask, hey, dude, are you, like, okay (Sea Change)?

Beck is the doe-eyed wunderkind that could defy and violate any genre, claiming it as his own. With all the albums mentioned above, I have not even begun to discuss his independent releases. Beck is prolific and surprising, a rock historian, a musical tour guide, a thief robbing the vaults of the past, combining virtually everything he can find into a vibrant collage. So then the only question we have left to ask is, how is Guero, Beck's newest, just a good album?

At the end of the second track "Que Onda Guero," a blip-encrusted rap/mariachi hybrid, Beck free flows his random verbiage over car horns and Mexican conversational samples. At the end of the song, one of the Mexican characters name-checks mullets and Yanni--it's an embarrassing moment for Beck, one that would appeal to the posing vintage-miners in an Urban Outfitters (akin to the time when Eminem released a song almost a year too late picking on Moby and NSYNC). Surely someone with this much relevance and street-cred could find someone more interesting to reference. We loved Beck because he was always laughing at us, not laughing with us. On Guero, it seems we're in on the joke, while in the past, we listened and smiled politely because it wouldn't be until months later that we would understand the punchline.

Guero is not a bad album. It's a good album. It's the "comeback" Beck was meant to make. Heck, it's the comeback we expected Beck to make.
The opener, "E-Pro," grooves and even comes close to annihilating in the same way the ferocious "The New Pollution" sizzled our ears (never mind that "Send A Message To Her" opens exactly like "Devil's Haircut"). "Girl,' a bouncy, summer soundtrack inevitability shines like an out take from Mutations. "Hell Yes" would fit in seamlessly into Midnite Vultures and "Broken Drum," with its echoey somberness, carries the same burden and toil found throughout Sea Change. In fact, the eclectic nature of Guero plays like a greatest hits album of unfinished ideas for songs left over from previous albums. Replicas of vibes and chords and beats and sounds from the spider-webbed attic of Hansen's mind. The perennial loser's new album isn't where it's at. It's where it's been.

The rock critic cliché would be to dismiss Guero as a bump on the road that is Beck's career or to feign over it with such enthusiasm that we're left to wonder if Interscope is purchasing a ton of ad space in said rock critic's magazine. Oddly enough, there is an extreme polar reaction to the album--yay or yawn. Never in-between.

It's undeniable that Beck is a visionary and an excellent artist. He has proved that time and time again with his prolific output of genre-straddling. Guero will make many best-of-the-year lists because in the grand scope of artistry, he is a fascinating character. While Guero does nothing to enforce that, it never contradicts it.

Most tellingly, on Guero's seventh song "Hell Yes," Christina Ricci is sampled as a Japanese waitress saying "please enjoy," sounding like a request made more than a demand. The same could be said about the album as a whole. While in the past, we were compelled to enjoy Beck's music while listening to it. The plea never had to be made.

Although this time around, with Guero, maybe we need to be asked nicely.

Bring Back Sincerity welcomes comments. Keep 'em clean.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Billy Crystal described it as the Otherness. A heavy, overwhelming boulder that you carry around with you for the rest of your life.

It has been a long time since I thought of my father consciously in the forefront of my mind. He usually exists as an eternal presence in the background, a car alarm in a distant street, a conversation happening on the other side of the subway platform. Always there but not as prominent as the focus of my preoccupations.

The other night I attended a Broadway performance of Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays, a play which I actually enjoyed despite the fact that Shana and I were the youngest people in attendance (this turnout is intentional--Crystal's target market is his peers, ages 40-60). The one-man, two-and-a-half hour performance revolved around the limited time spent with his father who died during Crystal's junior year in high school. The impish comedian calculated that he had spent a total of 700 hundred Sunday with his dad (the only day of the week in which his father wasn't busy working), hence the show's title.

While the first half of the performance retold the history of Crystal's modest Jewish upbringing in Long Island, the second half moved me in a very unexpected way. I never imagined in a million years that Billy Crystal, star of "When Harry Met Sally" and "City Slickers" would be able to eloquently describe the loss of someone as influential and as enormously important as a father. His uncanny grasp of the day you experience the suddenness brought me to the time when I received the news as well. I found myself in a dark theater re-experiencing the glass-shattering pains of the worst day of my life. All by the words of Billy Crystal, the same guy who starred in Analyze both This and That.

Crystal touched on one particular and unfortunate aspect of losing dad: the Otherness. An ominous sidekick of sorts, walking around with you wherever you went. A pungent and imposing odor that you eventually get used to because you've worn it for so long. Not having a father is this indescrbible loss that's never tangible but the weight that comes along with it is indeed like an imaginary boulder as Crystal describes. You push it around wherever you go but no one else sees it. I missed my father while he missed his. I conjured up the many images and expressions of my father just as he was doing before us.

In the darkness of the theater, surrounded by strangers, I found words for the thoughts I wasn't aware I had. All inspired by the man who was made famous by saying "you look mah-velous."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


At the U.N., they serve a special blend called Coffee Anan.


Sweetheart: Love Songs
Various Artists
[Starbucks Hear Music]

If there’s someone who can understand love and obsession, it’s the Starbucks’ customer. Spending five dollars on a daily basis for a cup of coffee means you’re in love with your double-shot-espresso-vanilla-latte. So it’s only natural that the ubiquitous coffee chain would release a compilation of classic love songs covered by an eclectic gathering of artists entitled Sweetheart: Love Songs. Opening with an overtly dramatic rendition of “My Funny Valentine,” Rufus Wainwright begins this sweet-natured collection, which could transform any day of the year into Valentine’s Day. Other standout tracks like Martina Topley-Bird’s “I Only Have Eyes for You,” Calexico’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” and Joseph Arthur’s “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” inspire a whole latte love.


Perhaps you can help me settle a bet I have with my mother.

She says, Arye--that’s me--it’s not what you know. It’s who you know.
I say, first off, Mom, it’s “whom.”
And then I continue to politely debate her. I tell her that passion and persistence both rule over a well-fed Rolodex.
She says I’m being naïve.
I respond that I’m being optimistic.

I have been a writer in the magazine industry for almost two years. And in those two years that I have been writing for Spin, Blender, New York Magazine, etc. I have been reading Jane Magazine. Despite the fact that I’m a twenty-something Jewish heterosexual male from New Jersey (how many strikes could one guy have against him?), I have always appreciated the tone and attitude of your publication. In fact, as the Music Editor of Heeb Magazine, I always try to replicate your irreverent vibe in my writing without using the word “irreverent” or the term "you go, girl!"

Jane, I wanna work for you and I think I would totally fit in with the Jane family because, well, first off, I’m a man so I know them well. I love music, movies, laughs (totally LOVE laughs!), bargains, politics…not so into the blind dates especially when she has “a great personality”…and I ignore all stigmas on a regular basis like its already my job. I appreciate how busy you must be but we should meet if you have the time. For real.

Ps this isn't some scam for me to finally meet you so I can just win a bet with my mom because I owe her enough money as it is.

Speak soon and best wishes,
Arye Dworken

Monday, April 11, 2005



--London foursome’s second album leaves me feeling a bit Coldplay.--

Piano is the new guitar. It doesn’t take “The Scientist,” or the success of the band that wrote that song (Coldplay) to realize that wimp-rock is all the rage--or more accurately, a lack thereof—in England. Athlete, a South London outfit made up of four childhood friends, writes the newest chapter in forgettable drama with Tourist, an album that isn’t as nearly adventurous as its title suggests. I’m certain by now, the once Mercury Prize-nominated group is tired of the Coldplay-comparisons—truthfully, I’m tired of making them—but after hearing songs like “Twenty Four Hours,” “Wires” and “Trading Air,” you’ll be looking through the liner notes for the Chris Martin songwriting credits.

Starflyer 59
Talking Voice Vs. Singing Voice
[Tooth And Nail]

--The Lord saves but there's nothing He could do for this album--

It seems pretty odd that Jason Martin, the creative force behind Starflyer 59, would call so much attention to his singing voice by referencing to it in the album title. Essentially, Martin doesn’t really sing his lyrics. He just breathes them.
With his tenth record in the eleven years as the 59th Starflyer, Martin further reveals his determination to replicate both the shoegazing qualities of My Bloody Valentine and the bouncy rhythm section of New Order. But ultimately, the outspokenly Christian songwriter’s lethargic delivery projects like he has just been resurrected from a long nap. The vocal monotony truly is an unfortunate shame because ultimately, the compositions are often pretty and warm. We can only hope that for the next album, after all the votes have finally been tallied, that Martin will announce the singing voice as the winner.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Jonathan Safran Foer meekly stepped up the podium at the Barnes and Noble in Union Square and politely thanked everyone for coming. He is a modest presence, unsure and suspecting why all these people have come to see him. On the way over, Foer began, he was riding on the subway without reading material or anything to distract himself. Instead he spent his time devising the best possible way to freak out tonight's audience (a standing room only event). Perhaps he would shave only one eyebrow and go on with his presentation pretending as if nothing had happened. But then, he concluded, he would have a shaved eyebrow.

Maybe he would memorize the section that he was going to read for us but then that looked too egocentric or a bit too self-involved.

Finally, Foer thought that he would answer all of the crowd's questions facing one randomly selected audience member every time, regardless of who asked the question. But then that would look creepy and weird.
It was decided that tonight's reading would involve no shtick whatsoever. Ultimately, though, this was the shtick in of itself. We were already charmed and nary an eyebrow needed to be shaved.


In truth, I don't feel comfortable reviewing ELAIC because after I finished reading it, I was without a concrete opinion. Essentially I will avoid what I call a "Walter Kirn," summarizing the book (in the New York Times Book Review) without offering any interesting ideas or original thoughts.

After completing Foer's second novel, I felt slightly emotionally manipulated, even a bit resentful (September 11th, the loss of a father) but I was moved all the same (while it may be through manipulation, it is nevertheless still an emotional response--strangely, I had a similar response to seeing "Garden State," a movie that also dealt with loss). Foer delivers us what we want; pogiancy, humor, quirks, and unrepentent sincerity. It's almost impossible to believe that he can be this sincere and "profound" all the time, as both the author of his books and as the writer that's profiled in interviews and articles but up to this point, it seems he is and can be (see Deborah Solomon's article, which is being attacked within the literary community for its doting tone).

Perhaps we need to suspend our jealousy and cynicism and agree that Jonathan Safran Foer is an extreme talent. One that we should watch incredibly close. Personally, I eagerly anticipate every written word Foer writes. I'm just not sure I'll be able to formulate an opinion after I've read them.

-- Does JSF blog? Maybe.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Jonathan Safran Foer is really, really cute. He can't help it--he's all cute, all the time. And while there is a large audience out there buying every ounce of his cuteness, not everyone has gotten aboard the Cute train (leaving on Track Adorable, by the way). In fact a New York Times critic, Haruki Murakami, called Safran Foer's newest book "annoying." John Updike, writing a review for the New Yorker, said that "Extrmely Loud And Incredibly Close" "covers up a certain hollow monotony in its verbal drama" (see Updike's review here).
What's going on here? Is Safran Foer no longer charming or are the curmudgeonly critics losing their taste for the literati equivalent of pinchable cheeks?

Safran Foer's second book to feature a zany cover (both covers designed by Anne Chalmers) is a wonderful, emotionally-potent book. Perhaps I may even whip out the word poignant. But did you expect something otherwise? After all, we turn to Safran Foer to be moved but does this make him less exciting because he has essentially become what we expect him to be only after one book?


Monday, April 04, 2005



Friday, April 01, 2005


Post cereal just made Fruity Pebbles with Splenda available to the public. This radical and drastic change made me both sad and nostalgic. Things aren't what they used to be, especially when considering the pure innocence of sugar cereals.

Farewell, Fred and Barney. You were the best Prehistoric friends a prepubescent nerd from New Jersey could have had.

Put on your pajamas while reading for the full effect