Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Howie Dorough of The Backstreet Boys Reveals That He's Gay Too
The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 26, 2006; 11:36 AM

NEW YORK -- Howie Dorough, band member of The Backstreet Boys, says he's also gay and in a "very stable" relationship. Dorough, who formed The Backstreet Boys with Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Kevin Richardson and Brian Litrell, tells People magazine that he didn't earlier disclose his sexuality because he didn't want to affect the group's popularity with brainless teenage girls and gay men. But after seeing Lance Bass brave the media with the reveal of his sexual preference, Dorough felt like it was time to make an announcement of his own.

"I knew that I was in this popular band and I had four other guys' careers in my hand, and I knew that if I ever acted on it or even said (that I was gay), it would overpower everything," he tells the magazine.

"But then Lance (Bass of 'Nsync) came out and I saw how popular his new outspoken sexuality was making him. Frankly, I wanted some of that attention too. I mean, it's been awhile."

The Backstreet Boys are known for a string of hits including "I Want It That Way" and "Shape of My Heart." The band went on hiatus in 2004 but many consider that four years too late.

Dorough says he wondered if his coming out after Bass could prompt "the end of The Backstreet Boys." He explains, "So I had that weight on me of like, `Wow, if I ever let anyone know, it's bad.' So I just never did...or was that weight actually just a guy on top of me?"

The singer says he's in a "very stable" relationship with "nobody you know. Just some, a doctor. No, a gardner. No. A doctor that likes to garden!"
Bass and Dorough, 29, are developing a sitcom pilot inspired by the screwball comedy "The Odd Couple," in which his character will be gay but only somewhat talented, while Bass will be gay and not talented at all.

"The thing is, I'm not ashamed _ that's the one thing I went to say," Dorough says. "I don't think it's wrong, I'm not devastated going through this. I'm more liberated and happy than I've been my whole life. I'm just happy."

"And besides," Dorough added, "Who do you think came up with the name "Backstreet Boys? Me! Now, doesn't it make sense in retrospect?"

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Dave Lieberman is trying to convince me to taste pork. Just once. “I love pork. It’s so distinctive,” he says. “You should try it just to try it. It wouldn’t qualify as really eating it if it was for a learning purposes.” If ever there were a person who could coax me into breaking a thirty-year tradition, it would be the charming, boyish twenty-seven year old cook sitting across from me. Practically everything Dave says to me sounds like it is all within my best interests. “Have it once and you won’t have to ever have it again. It would be worth it.” And while I appreciate his dispensation, as Jules Winnfield once said, “I just don’t dig on swine.” So we move on.

What are your thoughts on kugel, I ask?
“Kugel isn’t serious dining,” he says. “I consider it more of a buffet food.” At this exact moment, I could swear that I hear the sudden collective thud of potato peelers dropping everywhere in disappointment. But this is not to say that Dave Lieberman is not a good Jewish boy. So what if he swears by pig? So what if he later tells me that he wouldn’t serve Gefilte fish as an appetizer (“I would start with a poached salmon perhaps.”)? After all, the self-proclaimed “casual” and “rustic” cook dedicated his first cookbook Young & Hungry to his mother ("To Mom, for leaving the cooking to the men in the family") and surely that gives anyone carte blanche to even diss a brisket or two.

But truthfully, Dave doesn’t seem like the dissing type. In fact, his process seems to revolve around accessibility, unpretention, and hospitality. In his upcoming cookbook Dave’s Dinner, A Fresh Approach to Home Cooked Meals, Dave writes in the introduction, “These recipes [aren’t] extreme or avant-garde; they are simply good, tasty, streamlined recipes to make food others enjoy eating.” And while skimming through his second book, Dave’s palatable recipes, like mini potato latkes with apple-pear chutney, chili-grilled salmon with cucumber-mango salsa, or peach corn bread trifle practically make themselves. Well, okay, they’re not that easy.

Although, it should be noted that the rising food savant didn’t get his start in a snooty culinary institution but rather at Yale University where he would entertain his friends with barbecues and casual dinners. It was then that he first discovered the rewarding joy of cooking. “I loved cooking because it was bringing people together. I enjoy the whole experience of hosting.” Eventually friends convinced Dave to host his own cooking show for a local access television channel which soon thereafter developed a devoted following. At the time, journalist Amanda Hesser was working on her Masters at Yale and wrote a New York Times article on campus food, which featured Dave prominently throughout the item. This is when the Food Channel came calling.

Realizing his untapped talent and genial approachability, the cable channel gave Dave two outlets for his disarming casualness: Good Deal with Dave Lieberman, a show devoted to keeping things quick, easy and inexpensive and Eat This with Dave Lieberman, a first-of-its-kind Food Network online series of five minute investigations into eclectic food trends (the following week, Dave is taping three respective segments for the series on the Fresh Direct warehouse, a vineyard in Arizona, and ethnic barbecuing).

Presumably, Lieberman must have a lot of female fans because of his good looks and practical methodology. In fact, People magazine named Dave one of last year’s “50 Hottest Bachelors” and well, I’m told that kinda thing will get you a few digits. Dave smirks when I broach the topic. “I don’t cook for dates,” Dave wants you to know this upfront. “I do so much of it during the day that I’m not entirely interested in doing it at night.”

With a new season of Eat This in development and the indispensable Dave’s Dinners, his career is only pre-heating (for those that only do takeout, pre-heating is a prepertory stage). “I’m very confident in my cooking ability” Dave says. “And I’m very thankful that I get to do it for a living.”

And when can we expect a Kosher-style cookbook? “One day,” he says. “I haven’t ruled it out. Even though it’ll be hard to leave some foods out.”
Like pork, I ask?
“Yeah. Like pork.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


The first cassette I ever bought with my own money was Van Halen's For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. At the time, there were two major problems with this cassette: one, it was my foray into heavy metal and frankly, the genre scared me and two, the titled spelled out a word I wasn't yet comfortable saying aloud. But I bought it anyway because I saw the video for the album's first single "Poundcake", which featured guitarist Eddie Van Halen replacing a guitar pick with a power drill therein manipulating the sound of his instrument. That and the extremely hot chicks inexplicably hanging out in a dilapidated locker room pretty much blew my mind (it should be noted that the drill Eddie used in the video also matched the red-and-black signature pattern he designed for his guitar. From that day forth, the matching guitar and power drill would then become my measuring stick for success).

With the exception of "You Really Got Me" and "Jump," I knew very little about David Lee Roth's Van Halen. But whatever I did find out about the maniacal lead singer, I could still never relate to him. The obsessive character that I was (and some would argue that I still am), I bought every Van Halen record I could buy but I discovered that OU812 and 5150 spoke to me in a profound way that the earlier albums hadn't. You see, Van Halen was loud, fun and debauched but Van Hagar inspired me to yes, pick up chicks, but they also taught me to be a better person to those chicks. Whenever I listened to the piano drizzle opening of "Right Now", I felt goosebumps. And when Sammy challenged and told me to, 'Catch your magic moment/Do it right here and now/It means everything," I believed him. Whatever it was that I needed to do, I did it right then. In fact, I felt like a better person simply by watching the video for "Right Now." At the time, I thought it was profound for a metal band to tell me that "right now oil companies and old men are in control," "right now someone is working too hard for minimum wage," or "right now is a good time to repent." Whoa.
Paradoxically, Roth felt too passive for me. He instructed me to wait ("I'll wait till your love comes down"),chose a most unambitious career ("I'm your ice cream man baby, stop me when I'm passin' by"), and ecnouraged me to waste my time doing unproductive things ("Dance, dance, dance the night away"). Hagar inspired me to seize the moment while the other guy told me that I may as well jump?

This is not to say that Van Hagar was all profundity and no play. I mean, they did start a song "Black and Blue" with the lyrics "Slip n' slide, push it in/Bitch sure got the rhythm/I'm holding back, yeah, I got control (I had no idea who Bitch was but I blushed on her behalf when I heard this song)." But three of my favorite Van Hagar songs are "Dreams", "When It's Love" and "Why Can't This Be Love", a trio of inherently sweet compositions. Yes, sweet. And yes, compositions. "Dreams" sounded to me like all the feelings involved in the Olympics captured within a song. Whenever I heard "Dreams", I wanted to grow wings and fly. Not that I had anywhere specific in mind that I needed to fly to but when the dated synth keyboard rippled into my headphones, I was ready to soar high above land (can this guy be serious, you're thinking incredulously while reading this? Yes. Totally).

Two years ago, I saw Van Hagar at the Meadowlands with my friend Charles. He went because he's a guitar techie and seeing Eddie play that close up was pretty cool to him (I also kinda had to convince him it would be fun). This concert was not just cool to me--it was my ballistically awesome and during "Dreams," Hagar ran into the audience on this metal plank and the whole arena of 20,000 lost it. I came close to tears. "We belong in a world that must be strong/Oooh, that's what dreams are made of/And in the end, on dreams we will depend/because that's what love is made of." I'm choking up as I write this.

See, even when Van Hagar's lyrics sounded crude, I was pretty sure that this wasn't a problem. Sammy was probably singing to the woman he was in a devoted relationship with. Sammy Hagar wanted to be with someone and put a true effort into the love until it was something you felt together. And by the way, that's how you knew when it was love. It lasts forever. On the other hand, Roth seemed like the type of guy that wore promiscuousness on his sleeve. Yeah, Jamie's crying because she was probably just dumped. Moreover, Roth was a deviant lusting after his teacher. This made me queesy considering that all my teachers were severely unattractive (except for Mrs. Gorsicka who may have thought I was a stalker). It also seemed to me that Roth didn't take the band very seriously--he was more interested in covering songs (The Kinks' "You Really Got Me", Roy Orbison's "(Oh) Pretty Woman", Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing In The Streets") than writing new material. Van Hagar never once covered a song (you can't really count the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" because that was on a live album). All the while, my logic dictated that I should only take the band as seriously as the band took itself?

Strangely enough, The Van Hagar vs. Van Halen argument comes up quite frequently. I would not be exaggerating by saying that I have to defend Hagar at least once a week. It's really one of the only truly controversial beliefs that I stand nearly alone in defending. People like Charles argue that Roth was a more charismatic singer and that commendably he fronted a rock band, not a cheesy, overwrought, and self-important metal mess. And he's somewhat correct in his assessment because Roth was a supremely notable rock star if not for his off-stage antics alone (his out-of-print book Crazy From The Heat is impossibly entertaining) but Hagar was the guy I could have drinks with (when I was, of course, at a legal drinking age). Hagar was the guy I could introduce to my girlfriend and not have to worry about what would happen next. On the other hand, Roth's devilish grin threatened me--he would definitely get me in trouble with my parents, convince me to buy him drinks and then, after all that, steal my girlfriend. I wanted none of that.

In the Roth-sung song "So This Is Love?" the love in rhetorical question is actually carnal knowledge and when I was old enough to finally figure this out, I was totally bummed. Ultimately, it came down to one thing. Sammy had feelings while David numbed them all with alcohol, sex and drugs. As a fourteen year-old Yeshiva student from Elizabeth, New Jersey raised in a good home, I believed in love and dreams, not in dysfunction and babies smoking cigarettes. Yeah, I know you ain't talkin' 'bout love, and, man, that really concerns me. And even it means I have to be the minority in this debate, I'm standing firm on my side because Sammy, jesus, you're an awful dresser, but, dude, you're real.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Gwen Stefani says it thirty-eight times in "Hollaback Girl" so what's the big deal if our President said it once? Isn't it even more offensive that he had his mouth full of food at the time?

"See, the irony is what they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s***."

Shana thought hearing President George Bush say s*** was kind of strange and disarming. "It isn't really a big deal," she said. "We hear people say s*** all the time. But it's just when we hear the President do it, it's weird."

Personally, I think it's a huge deal. In fact, I watched the clip like five times in a row.

Growing up, when learning about our forefathers, I had a difficult time imagining them as humans. They seemed so much more than that. They were wise and courageous. They were strong authority figures and people everywhere trusted them. Since then, we've been privy to too much information. Presidents lie about oral sex and they make impulsive decisions based on false information. I have been progressively losing my faith in the government's authority and I think yesterday's overheard comment pretty much sealed the deal.

Presidents are just like us. They speak with their mouth full and they say "s***."

I'm fully aware that Bush is a Southern boy and presumably a crass fellow behind the White House's closed doors. And while I've also stopped supporting him ages ago (I tried to make the best of what we had but alas...), I remain hopeful that one day he will do our country proud. But I also distinctly remember learning in elementary school that the Pharoahs of Egypt would only use the bathroom early in the morning so the loyal subjects would think the God-like ruler didn't have human needs or tendencies. It was all image control, or spin, as they say in Washington. The more superhuman our leaders behave, the more we'll probably place our combined faith in them. I'm not suggesting that Bush should never use the bathroom during the day nor am I suggesting that he should watch his mouth at all times. I'm simply saying that the more human and accessible the President of the United State becomes, the more we'll doubt his already flawed administration.

I've always felt that the President should be more than human. The President should be the most awesome person we can find amongst 300 million American citizens. Sadly, this cannot be George Bush. And the news clip circulating around the internet proves this to me. When Bush misuses the word "irony," faces the cameras while speaking to Blair with his mouth full, mocks the other leaders for their lengthy speech, and then says the word "s***," I wondered where on Earth he had left his tact because, to put it mildly, it's gone to s***.

Monday, July 17, 2006


I will come back to the previous post that I began writing last Thursday but right now, I feel compelled to tell you all that I was wrong.

Well, not completely. Only somewhat. Nevertheless, despite my usual obstinacy, I feel it is my duty to rectify the wrong, to do what's right in this world. I am my own historian, revisionist, and fact checker.

Not too long ago, in a post far, far away, I lamented the egocentric nature of culture journalism and it's sad, impending decline. I blamed this on the popular critics like Chuck Klosterman, among others. My feelings were that when the character, i.e., the writer, becomes a prominent presence in the story, we lose focus and therein encourage others to be self-important. Not even the celebrity being profiled is important enough for us to concentrate on, which is so weird to consider in a celebrity-driven world. Have we become so enamored with reality television that we would rather know more about the real person interviewing the sound-bite spewing famous person? Perhaps. Unclear.

Anyway, now months later, I have been assigned a story on writer Chuck Klosterman for a significantly sized profile and like all ex-boy scouts, I prepared diligently by consuming Klosterman's prolific outpourings. And here's what I've found. He's pretty damn talented.

Previously, my only exposure into the world of Chuck was his humorous collection of essays Sex, Drugs, And Cocoa Puffs, a self-proclaimed "low culture manifesto" and some of his stuff in Spin. And in retrospect, I consider his most popular book to be his least enjoyable but of course that comes as no surprise. Presumably, this is because the book was prominently displayed in Urban Outfitters and as a result, I have no choice but to shun it. But after reading Fargo Rock City and Killing Yourself To Live, I realized that Chuck is pretty self-deprecating, over-analytical, and neurotic dude. More or less, he is the poster boy for the typical New York male (which is very odd considering he is from White Trash America). I appreciate his tone in a totally different context, which is a hard thing for me to admit because once I don't appreciate something, I generally will never appreciate something. This is called "pride," which was also the name of a White Lion record.

Interestingly enough, when I finally reached out to Klosterman regarding the story (through his publicist), he thanked me graciously but refused the interview (albeit, very politely and humbly) mentioning that he was trying to avoid the media right now. This was strange to me. Why would someone deny publicity? But to an extent, I kinda get it. Sometimes, the media is mean and sometimes it is a bit scary.

But whatever comes of my profile, I do want to set the record straight. The dude's talented. And unlike many of the others critics, I will admit that my clouded judgement of the past was a result of a slight tinge of jealousy (um, slight?). I mean, how could you not envy someone who has once been paid to write about Motley Crue for 300-plus pages?

So ya see, I was kinda wrong. Now let's move on.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Indie rock is such an obnoxious term. In fact, I try to avoid using it (just as I have not done in the title of this entry) because if you think about it, it doesn't really mean anything. The only true benefit of calling something indie rock is the opportunity to group bands together that would otherwise have nothing in common. The Shins sound nothing like the Stills and the White Stripes sound nothing like the Black Angels (but they do sound a lot like the Black Keys). Nevetheless, they're all indie rock bands.

[To be continued]

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden with a population of 485,000 but it’s mostly known for its bursting hellacious death metal scene. Bands such as At The Gates, Dark Tranquility, The Haunted, In Flames, Soilwork, and Arch Enemy have all arisen from the industrial city mostly inspired by the downtrodden routine of the blue collared lifestyle. Josephine Olausson, lead singer of Gothenburg’s Love Is All, is explaining this to me and this is pretty amusing because a) Josephine’s band name has the word “love” in it (unattached to a destructive adjective like “burning” or “dying”) and b) her band couldn’t be any further from being death metal. In fact, Love Is All captures the gleeful sound of naïve adolescence (even though the respective band members are in their thirties); their songs are imperfect, carefree, hyperactive and there’s nary a mention of Satan in the liner notes.

In 2004, three musicians, Nicholaus Sparding (vocals, guitar), Markus Gorsch (drums), and Josephine (vocals, keyboards) formed Love Is All after their previous band Girlfriendo disbanded. The trio then recruited Johan Lindwall on bass and Fredrik Eriksson on saxophone and began recording a number of singles. Eventually, the group compiled those singles, in addition to a couple of re-recorded versions, and released their debut record Nine Times That Same Song, which, contrary to what the title suggests, is not one song repeated nine times but rather, ten completely different tunes. “I thought it would be a funny name for a record,” Josephine says in her adorable accent, for a lack of a better term, “and I was, in a sense, preemptively dismissing our songs before the critics could.” It may sound unusual for a musician to be so concerned with music criticism but then again, it’s also completely refreshing. For every rocker that claims he or she doesn’t care about what anyone says (by the way, they’re lying), Josephine is disarmingly insecure. But the reason why the thirty-one year-old singer is regularly self-conscious of the critical reaction is because Josephine is also a freelance music journalist. “I still don’t think of myself as a musician. It’s embarrassing to say that. And being a freelance journalist is not something I’m proud of—I’ve interviewed Destiny’s Child.”
Beyonce, I ask?
“No, the very boring one. I think her name is Michelle.”

“I was expecting everyone to hate this record,” Josephine continues. “I am so surprised about the way people received it. In a way, the songs are annoying. I can see how someone has had a bad day and they put on our record after getting it in the mail, I can imagine them thinking, My God, what an annoying record.”

Nine Times… is anything but an annoying record. In fact, it’s one of the strongest debuts this year. The thirty-one minutes of deceivingly euphoric and innocent-sounding rock is rather danceable and jubilant pop-punk complete with standard lyrical fare like decapitation, stalking, and keeping ex-lovers stored in the freezer. The spunky, squawking female vocals juxtaposed with the sweet background harmonious provided by the male counterparts create an unusual role reversal. A friend once noted that the switching of vocal duties could almost stand as a criticism on society’s designation of gender and sexuality. Females don’t always have to sound pretty and men don’t always have to sound strong. “Well, I’m not sure if we had that in mind when we recorded the songs,” Josephine laughs, “but in retrospect, I will gladly embrace that theory.”

Despite their attempt to escape the confines of Gothenburg culture, the band prefers to stay firmly entrenched in their hometown as much as possible. They currently tour for only eight days at a time, mostly because they don’t like to be away from family members for long. Indeed, Love is All.