-     1/30/09 OH THAT'S RIGHT, I HAVE A BLOG
Couldn't get myself to write a god damn thing in 2008. Not sure why. Too much drama in my head I guess. Mid life crisis? Check. Turning 40? Check. Uncertain about the whole fucking world and my place in it? Check. Second guessing every major life decision since 6th grade? Check. Long story, for real. All that, and I got severely owned by Poseidon in August, ripping my right arm way way WAY out of the socket and putting a serious damper on the following three months. All the vicodin didn't exactly help my productivity either, that's for sure. I have a whole comic sketched out about the accident, but I can't seem to finish it. Must do it before the memory of the pain dissipates. Anyway, below is a few other things I felt like blogging about in 2008 but never quite got around to. Enjoy.
-     OBAMA NIGHT RECAP
Election night in NYC was simply amazing.
We kicked off the night with an election party at Do Hwa, our friend's Korean restaurant on Carmine & Bedford in the west village. This was a bit of a reunion, as we were meeting a large group of good friends as well as hardcore Do Hwa regulars and a whole gang of former employees.
Backstory: Do Hwa was a major haunt for all of my friends during the dot com boom. I ate there twice a week, and drank there at least double that. They had the best Bi Bim Bop south of 32nd st, and Dave Evans was the coolest bartender on earth (not to mention one of the few people I can count as a bigger film nerd than myself). It was the only bar in my life where I have ever had "a tab". This tab being, basically, a tally of how many bottles of Patron Ben Cruz and I could drink per week. Good times. As a young aspiring alcoholic of 16 or 17, and an avid watcher of 1970s TV shows, you dream of the day you can say "put it on my tab". And before you roll your eyes at our choice of beverage, allow me to point out that this was in 2001 way way WAY before Patron was cool. Or at least that's what I like to believe.
Election night in Do Hwa was really extra special. The mood was just electric. I think most people in the room had finally become comfortable with the idea that their dreams just might come true and the American people just might not vote in John McCain and the dimwitted abomination known as Sarah Palin.
We sat at a long table \and drank special election night Obama-themed concoctions of ginger soju and saké, gobbling down Bi Bim Bop and Dak Teegim as the election results rolled in on a large projection screen at the front of the restaurant. As one crucial state after another fell on our side of the fence, the collective excitement began to swell.
When NBC called it at 11pm, a great roar erupted in the room. Screams and hoots and hollers and hugs and champagne toasts and tears. A lot of tears. I cried like a bitch. The day had final arrived. A day very few of us thought we would ever see. I think it took about an hour to really sink in. And I actually felt kinda sick to my stomach, which was odd, but it was really just a whole lot to get take in at once.
After Obama's acceptance speech and some long extended hugs, Anne, Roxanne, Sam, and I walked over to Sullivan st for the Libation party at Sullivan Room. The whole village was nothing but screams and honking horns. Complete strangers smiling at each other, even hugging each other. Not since the weeks after 9/11 have I seen such open camaraderie among New Yorkers. BUt this time without all the sorrow. This time it was just pure joy. It was magical.
The Libation party was great. Ian Friday & Sabine laid down solid sets, peppered with Obama speeches here and there. Sporadic "O-BA-MA!" and "YES-WE-DID!" chants broke out about every 20 minutes. It was truly a night to celebrate, and the crowd was there to dance. So dance we did. We danced our collective asses off until 2:30 am or so.
Being on an extended leave from employment (healing my shoulder), I had no reason whatsoever to stop celebrating. Roxanne, Sam and I headed over to Bed Stuy to catch the tail end of Lil Ray's party at Langston Lounge, dropping the gainfully employed Anne Frederick off at home on the way. But by the time we arrived at the club, the gates were shut. This was a bummer, but there weren't too many options at 3am in Bed Stuy on a Tuesday, so we agreed to head our separate ways.
So I was heading back home, through Fort Greene, down Dekalb, in a yellow taxi. All of a sudden we came upon a surprising sight: A GIGANTIC block party in the middle of the street between Adelphi & Carlton. It seemed that the South African restaurant Madiba was in the midst of a serious Obama celebration that had spilled out on the sidewalk and overtaken he entire block. 500 people dancing and drinking and screaming and embracing. It was 3am and the party was no where near from over.
Seeing the large unruly, fairly black crowd, the cab driver was very nervous. "Maybe we should go other way?!"
"Don't worry dude, it'll be fine!" I reassured him "Just drive through really slowly".
I could see some uniformed police mingling in with the revelers, so I figured they would clear out the crowd in an orderly fashion.
As we crawled in to the middle of the jubilant throng, people began to notice the cab. Rather than part ways, a weird fever seemed to overtake them. Simultaneously, like zombies, they swarmed around all sides of the car. Cute girls started hooting and hollering and banging on the windows. men jumped up on the bumper and banged on the hood and roof. The driver was BUGGIN'.
BUt I didn't care, I was too distracted by the mob of cute girls banging on my door and screaming through the open window "OBAMA!!!! WOOOOO!!!! GET OUT AND PARTY WITH US RIGHT NOW!!!!!"
"FUCK!" I thought to myself "I should get out of this damn cab!"
In the middle of all that, a hand reaches in to the cab and violently grabs me by my shirt. It was my boy Cheo, whom I had been texting all night, trying to hook up with.
"DUDE! WTF ARE YOU DOING?! GET OUT OF DAT CAB AND PARTY WITH US!"
That was the last straw.
"STOP THE CAB!" I yelled. "I'M GETTING OUT!!"
The cab driver looked at me like I was nuts.
"RIght HERE? You SURE you want to get out HERE?" he asked alarmingly.
I hopped out of the car. The Crowd screamed "YAAAAAYYYYYYY WWWWOOOOOOO!!!!!". I held up my arms in triumph for some reason.
Cheo was partying with Anabella & a few of their friends. I immediately ran in to about 3 other people I know, one of whom was an old college buddy Jamal, who I hadn't seen in 5 years.
The crowd was insane. A small drum circle was going in the street in front of the restaurant. People dancing all around it. More music was coming from inside. A DJ playing some old Lauryn Hill song. People dancing inside. We fought our way in and got a beer. Almost everybody was drinking. Cops stood by smiling while everybody celebrated. This was a real shock. You NEVER see cops tolerating open containers in New York. To top it off, Anabella told me they had just come from Williamsburg, where a similar celebration of hipsters was broken up by riot police. You know it's a new day when cops go to the white neighborhood to beat up on the white kids while black folks drink beer on the street in front of smiling bending-over0backward-to-be-nice Brooklyn cops. Hail Obama!
I've honestly never seen NYC so fucking happy in my entire life.
It was like New Year's Eve and Halloween and Carnival all rolled in to one.
What an amazing time to be alive.
And to actually be that proud to be an American too.
-     HALLOWEEN NYC
We went to hear Matty Matt spin at Sapphire. It was the best party that club has had since 1995. Matt did his thing and Heather.....holy shit. Heather brought the house down. If you don't believe me, just peep the photos. I forgot my camera so i stole these from Matt's flickr account. Not only is he a great DJ and some klind of computer genius, but he also takes beautiful photos, don't you think?
-     I HAVE TOTALLY KICK ASS LUCID DREAMS
I've had two lucid dreams this week.
I was taking a group of older ladies to a museum cafe of some sort. We sat at a long yellow table. Looked a bit like the cafeteria at The Met. The conversation was painfully uninteresting, but I was obligated to be the chaperone for some reason.
In the middle of lunch, the woman across from me looks dead at me and says "this dream is boring. I'm outta here" and to my astonishment, vanishes in to thin air(!).
"Damn" I thought to myself "She's right. This IS boring. I'm going back to sleep". And I promptly exited the dream and woke up in my bed.
What a relief! And how cool that I could just exit at will! This development was really intriguing.
I went back to sleep, and was immediately BACK in the same dream. Back at the table with the elderly ladies.
"Oh no" I thought "This dream again! I'm outta here". And I woke up a second time, this time for good.
NUMBER TWO (2 days later)
I was walking down Dekalb Ave with an old friend (ESPO). It was a sunny, snowy, and very slushy day - but not cold at all. ESPO and I were heading to the subway, to go to VH1 in Times Square, where he supposedly worked. We were to be pitching my great ideas for TV shows (!). I was somewhat stressed that I didn't remember any of the great ideas I was supposed to be pitching, but I had bigger issues.
I had forgotten to wear shoes. So I was walking in ankle-deep slush in my bare feet. This was most embarrassing. How was I going to do a successful pitch with bare feet?
"That's unfortunate, dude" ESPO said "but you're just gonna have to suck it up and make the best of it".
This was not comforting at all. I kept asking myself "why the FUCK would I forget to wear shoes on such an important day?"
As we reached the bottom of the hill and the entrance to the subway, I stopped at the top of the stairs.
"This is crazy man, I can't go to VH1 with no shoes" I insisted.
"Dude, we're gonna be late. Just C'mon" he said
"Ya know what, there is NO WAY I would have forgotten to wear shoes today. NO WAY. This has GOT to be a dream."
"A dream? that makes no sense. The train's coming. Let's go!"
"No way. This is a dream. You go on. I'm going to stand right here until I wake up, because this is a dream."
ESPO ran down the stairs and down the hallway, out of sight. I stood at the top of the stairs. I looked up at the sun and woke up in my bed.
If I can master this lucid dreaming stuff, it will be like having my own personal holodeck.
-     RADIOHEAD IS KIND OF A GOOD BAND
I caught Radiohead at All Points West on August 8th last summer.
I can describe the show with these three smilies:
I really feel like they are the Pink Floyd of my generation. Dark. Complex. Epic. Wholly original. Daring. And they just don't sound like any other band in history. To me, They are really on a completely different plane than just about any other rock band still making music.
I was so excited by the show, I woke up the next day and made a mix of the entire setlist, just so I could obsess over it on my ipod for the next 2 months.
If you want to hear that, here it is. Click to stream - right click/control click to download.
RADIOHEAD - ALL POINTS WEST (studio versions, NOT a live recording)
I left my camera at home, so I stole these first three photos from Melinda Gray.
The rest of these photos I ganked off of the web, from a brilliant Brooklyn photographer named kyle dean reinford. Hopefully he doesn't mind.
CLICK HERE to check out his site
02. 15 Step
03. The National Anthem
04. Kid A
05. All I Need
07. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
08. Where I End And You Begin
09. The Gloaming
10. Faust Arp
11. No Surprises
12. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
13. The Bends
14. Bangers and Mash
15. Everything In Its Right Place
16. Exit Music (For A Film)
18. Pyramid Song
21. Fake Plastic Trees
22. There There
23. House of Cards
24. Planet Telex
26. my own bonus track cuz I really wanted to hear it, even though they didn't play it (fuckers)
-     THE COOLEST BOOKS EVER EVER
PSYCHOPTS by RICHARD HELL & CHRISTOPER WOOL
This is a collaboration between my main man Richard Hell & the artist Christopher Wool. Longtime friends, they share a mutual fascination with words - in this case, not really for what their direct meaning may be, but rather for the myriad of associations and implications and suggestions and even mistaken interpretations one can create by combining words that have some kind of inherent synergetic similarity. For this book, they created 57 couplings of words, and printed them in various graphic arrangements. Sometimes on top of one another. Sometimes above and below. Sometimes right side up and upside down. Etc. The combination creates endless interpretations depending on the power of your own imagination, both visually and semantically. It's a beautifully unique piece of work for lovers of words and typography and mindfucks.
COMPLETE MINIMAL POEMS by ARAM SAROYAN
A collection of rare and out-of-print work of one of the 1960's most groundbreaking minimalist poets. This is a great companion to the Richard Hell/Christopher Wool book above. Saroyan's work betrays a similar love of words and the endless possibilities one can create by leaving almost everything up to the interpretation and embellishment of the reader. Each page contains one single poem. Many of them consisting of just a single word. Others just a few open-ended lines. Such as:
And another personal favorite of mine
We made a raincoat
for a bee.
Fascinating restraint, and so much fun to read. Perhaps I should mention that I know almost nothing about poetry and usually cannot bear to read it.
MINGERING MIKE by DORI HADAR
In the late 60s and early 70s, Mike Stevens, a total weirdo and total super genius created an alter ego for himself, a fantastic imaginary doppleganger named Mingering Mike. This alter ego was a soul singing sensation with an impressive discography and storied song catalogue.
Despite having no formal training as an artist, Mike hand-painted over fifty LP covers, complete with tracklistings and liner notes and photo inserts and quotes from his admirers and on and on. He even made some 45s. All on stray pieces of cardboard. He even made vinyl LPs out of cardboard and drew every groove on the record by hand. These were never intended for public viewing, just his personal hobby - creating fake artifacts from his fantasy life.
In 2003, his "records" started mysteriously showing up in flea market record crates around the DC area. Record collector nerds Dori Hadar & Frank Beylotte started blogging about these weird pieces of art they had come across while digging. Soon enough, they started to realize they had quite possibly discovered and as-yet-unsung folk artist. They set out to not only collect all the various pieces of the puzzle, but also to find out if the artist himself was still alive. It's a fascinating story, and a must have for any crate digger on planet earth. Funkadelic fans familiar with the work of Pedro Bell will be especially thrilled. Trust me. Peep it:
99 FEARS by NEDKO SOLAKOV
A beautiful, dark, weird, terrifying, abstract collection of fearful manifestations in all shapes and sizes. I'm finding it very hard to do it any justice with mere words. You simply need to see it to appreciate it. Recalls to mind the feeling you had when you first opened an Edward Gorey book. You were thrilled that there was somebody alive that was twisting illustration in to this dark, moody place - a place that seemed so fucking familiar - like he was stealing ideas from your own nightmares. Yeah. It's like that, but way WAY cooler. My deepest thanks to the cool person who gave me this book
-     WINTER SUCKS
Some of these photos were stolen from friends blogs and facebook pages and flickr accounts and what have you. Yeah? So?
-     2/26/08 BACK ON THE BLOG
Haven't updated this section of the blog in a minute. This is primarily because I have become so obsessed with writing travel blogs that I am pretty much mentally vacant by the time they are finally finished.
Went to Peru in November and it was totally freakin' mind-blowing. Wrote an absurdly long blog about it, with photos that are so awesome my Mom swears they should be in National Geographic (!). Now Anne wants to move there so she can wander off in to the rainforest to learn how to read coca leaves in quechua while I work on my hippy tolerance.
Went to venezuela over Christmas/New Years and got a whirlwind rockstar tour of the country from my two good friends Anabella and Cheo. Wrote and even longer blog with even cooler pictures. Ended up formatting it differently so the pics could load on separate pages. It is insanely long and detailed, but I've been getting wonderful responses from Venezuelans all over the globe. Some random guy even called me for travel tips. I'm the poor man's Samantha Brown!
You can read all about these fabulous trips by clicking on the travel button on the left menu on this page. The Venezuela blog is also linked directly on the top navigation above.
-     I HAVE FUCKED UP DREAMS. EXHIBIT A:
So I'm living in a suburban house with Rosanne Barr, Uma Thurman, and Tommy Lee Jones in full "Two-Face" make-up, reprising his role from the Dick Tracy movie. WTF?! It's a lazy Saturday afternoon and we're all just sort of hanging around the house. Some random 2-story house in the suburbs.
Uma is feeling a bit "snacky", so she pulls some ice cream out of the freezer, but it is too cold and hard to eat, so she puts it in the microwave. She leaves it there for like 15 minutes. The microwave overheats, causing a small radioactive explosion of some sort. After a small fire is extinguished, she apologizes to Rosanne for breaking the microwave. Tommy Lee Jones (as Two-Face, mind you) says nothing.
Uma then asks Rosanne and I if we both think the ice cream is still safe to eat.
Rosanne is like "I have no idea, what do you think Julian?"
"I don't know. It's probably fine" I said "Just scrape off the top layer before you eat it"
Uma looked pleased at this news and began to prepare the ice cream for immediately consumption.
A few minutes later I began thinking "That is crazy. I don't know anything about radiation. My careless advice might kill Uma Thurman! I should consult my Dad immediately".
So I call my Dad and tell him the story. Without hesitation he says "DO NOT EAT THAT ICE CREAM! GET IT OUT OF THE HOUSE NOW! BURY IT OUT IN THE WOODS AND NEVER GO NEAR THERE AGAIN!"
"oh shit!" I thought.
I ran downstairs to tell Uma. She had just finished the entire pint. Damn.
I was like "Um.....nevermind".
-     THREE NEW MIX CDs HOT OFF THE PRESSES
I went on a crazy mix CD bender last week and made three new CDs in one weekend.
First was "TAKE TWO AND PASS", the title of which will make a lot of sense when you listen to it. I had three songs stuck in my head that desperately needed a home (i.e. a mix CD). One was the Sofa Surfers "Can I Get A Witness". My friend Melinda sent it to me out of the blue a few weeks ago. She said it was her new favorite song. It is fast becoming mine too. Another is a Radiohead song, "Talk Show Host", from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack. A few weeks ago, Anne and I ended up back at my boy Ben's swank DUMBO townhouse at 4am on a Friday night, sitting by the fire smoking some California dreams while Ben played one of the coolest, most eclectic DJ sets I've ever heard, all from his ipod. Each song was played from start to finish for maximum appreciation - David Mancuso style (BTW, if you don't know who David Mancuso is, you betta axe somebody). Consequently, that Radiohead track was now stuck in my head too. Then, just the other day, my friend Jens IMs me at work, asking for music suggestions for his new reel. He sends me this crazy track by Disprupt, "Blow You To Bits", which has all these bugged out samples from the movie "Tron". He was looking for something similarly glitchy, but faster than this slow dub shit. I suggested the Chilean weirdo genius "Original Hamster" (who, BTW, has the single greatest DJ name of all time). Jens checked out his Myspace. Truth be told, I have no idea if Jens ever did find a track for his reel. Whatev. I had another song for my new mix CD, so it was all good.
The mix has a real kitchen sink approach, with dubstep and reggae and R&B and new disco and jazz and electronica and Radiohead and whatever - all thrown in the pot. It was one of those Sunday mornings where I spent a few hours pulling records off the shelves at home, searching for some random gems to fill out the mix. I do this a few times a year, and I'm always reminded that there is a crazy amount of great music, that I already own, that I barely ever even listened to. Too much music. Not enough time. Definitely not enough time. Still, I think it came out pretty fucking cool. Good music to wind down too. Those who know, know.
The other two mixes are some house tracks from the last six months that have been collecting in my apartment, in dire need of digital distribution.
"SUNDAY MORNING" was made specifically for my Shelter family, who I have been promising CDs to for the past year or so. I have about twenty or so fellow dancers who I have been delivering CDs to on Sunday mornings for years. Last year, I took a six month hiatus from the club. When I finally showed up empty handed in January, I got mad disappointed looks. Hopefully this mix will remedy that.
"WEDNESDAY NIGHT" is for the other family of clubheads on my CD delivery route - my peoples at Soulgasm, the Wednesday party that I guest at from time to time. DJ Brian Coxx holds it down every week, and brings in DJs of all types to fill out each night. The Soulgasm crowd is full of BBoying circle dancers. These kids are open to almost anything with a beat, so I tried to stretch out a bit, including some deep house, some tech house, some hip hop, some jazz, and some R and B.
All of these mixes are posted in the music section of the site, under LATEST MIXES. Enjoy!
-     MUSEUM GUARDS. DAMN THEM ALL TO HELL.
Museum guards are, without a doubt, the rudest people on the earth. Their job basically gives them a license to stare. WTF?
I don't know about you, but my Mom taught me that staring at people is rude, and she was right. Yet here are these guards, just staring people down all day. Again I ask, WTF?
As soon as you walk in the room, they just stare right at you. And if you stare back, they get this "why the fuck are you staring at me?" look, as if there is something rude about staring at someone. It's a very ill-conceived profession in this regard, because it requires a violation of basic social graces, and that shit just ain't cool.
So I propose we band together and give these beady-eyed, furrowed-brow bastards a taste of their own medicine. Next time you go to a museum, don't even look at the art. Just walk right in to the gallery and stand near the doorway, staring directly at the guard. We'll see how they like it. Bastards!
P.S. If you get thrown out, don't call me.
-     I HAVE FUCKED UP DREAMS. EXHIBIT B:
So I'm staying in a mountain cabin with my good friend Jesse Vendley. Ryan Oneal is our host. Apparently this is his summer place of some sort. Looks like the Rocky Mountains.
Ryan is sleeping very late. Like, until 5 or something, and Jesse and I keep wondering who the hell is gonna make dinner, cuz it sure as hell isn't gonna be us. Ryan eventually crawls out of bed and makes some kind of dinner. I think it was a stew of sorts. One would think we would have smelled a stew 'stewing' all day, but alas, we were clueless. maybe he was sleeping so late cuz he had been up all night making the stew. Who can say?
We sit down to eat dinner. At some point I realize something rather horrific has transpired inside my pants. As in, I had unknowingly relieved myself in the most thorough of fashions (both #1 & #2, right in my pants. I was really freaked out. I got up and non-chalantly shuffled off the bathroom to review that damage.
I was incredibly embarrassed and quit alarmed that it had come to this. I was a grown man crapping my pants. Not a good sign.
I cleaned up best as I could, threw my soiled underwear out of the bathroom window in to the woods (what else could I do, really?), and made my way back towards the dinner table.
I passed Jesse in the hallway and was compelled to confess my fecal indiscretion.
"Don't worry man" Jesse said "I just did the exact same thing"
"You're kidding me?" I gasped
"Happens all the time. No big deal"
I sent Jesse a text message the next day. This was right before Christmas.
ME: had a dream we were staying at Ryan Oneal's house in the mountains. I crapped my pants, but then so did you , so I didn't feel so bad. Merry Crappy Christmas.
JESSE: who's that?
(I forgot he just got a new phone. no caller ID yet)
ME: as if you don't know
JESSE: Ur not coming up on my caller ID
ME: oh well
JESSE: just looked you up on my old phone list. U were starting to freak me out, what, with the scatological dreams of me and whatnot. Merry crappy Christmas to you too, homeboi
JESSE: pretty interesting dream. I'm guessing the mountain is the task before you, and judging by my role in the dream - and the nature of the symbol itself - the crap in your pants probably represents fatherhood (Jesse disappeared off the face of the earth 4 years ago when he had kids. True story. It was like Jimmy Hoffa). Not sure what Ryan Oneal is all about tho...
ME: How insightful. I have been freaking out about imminent fatherhood. The first Ryan Oneal thing that comes to mind is the movie PAPER MOON, where he is a single father to Tatum Oneal, who is coincidentally the ex-wife of John McEnroe, who is coincidentally now married to Patty Smythe, who is coincidentally the ex-wife of Richard Hell, who, coincidentally, I had dinner with last night. Hmmm.
Moral of the story: I am so scared of having kids I wanna poop my pants.
-     I AM SO ALMOST FAMOUS
My friend Eva Orner won the best documentary Academy Award at The Oscars on Sunday for her documentary film, "Taxi To The Darkside". Truth be told, I haven't seen her in a minute. She was in the beach house with us two summers ago. My friends Serge and Melinda give me updates from time to time. When they told me her film was short-listed to win best doc, I was very excited. A few weeks later, at a random dinner full of strangers at a Bulgarian restaurant in Queens, I coincidentally sat next to and struck up a conversation with the woman who edited the film. When the film actually WON on Sunday, I was completely thrilled for both of them. Congratulations!! I strongly suggest you go see this movie.
The best part: now I am only one degree away from my dream date with Tom Hanks!
-     10/26/07 - SEX AND FOOD AND ROCK AND ROLL
If you ask me, there are three essential reasons to live in New York City: MUSIC, FOOD, and SEX. I have spent the last 20 years in pursuit of those three virtues with, if I may be so bold, a modicum of success in all three categories. To live here is to embrace life's simple pleasures and indulge yourself with every ounce of energy you have until it just doesn't mean anything anymore. Then you either OD or you leave town before you go completely fucking broke and or nuts.
Sometimes this takes 5 years. Sometimes it takes a lifetime. Sometimes you question why you're still here, not growing up, not starting a family, not saving for retirement. Then the best steak tar tar of your life appears at the table and your taste buds have an orgasm and, like any good orgasm, you forget what you were just contemplating. And so it goes.
My friends from various parts of the country and the world visit from time to time, and they show me pictures of their kids and their back yards and their new station wagon, and I am truly happy for them, as they have wonderful families and fulfilled lives, and had I not been drawn to this den of sin, I too would surely be repping the suburbs to the fullest. But we New Yorkers don't have kids. We don't have back yards. We don't even have driver's licenses half the time. At least not most of my friends. We are freaks. We never grew up. But, without a doubt, we are LIVING. Some days, it just feels really fucking good. This past Saturday was just such a day.
Two months ago, my good friend Melinda was kind enough to get Anne and I tickets to a concert. She simply sent us an Email, along with 4 other people, that said "I got us all tickets to Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsytem at Randall's Island in October and you're all going". It was more of an edict than an invitation. Fair enough. When somebody as cool as Melinda tells me I will enjoy something, especially music, I invariably do. She has impeccable taste and has been turning me on to music all summer at the beach, so much so that I have begun to question the depth of my own record collection, but that is another story and too complex to get in to here. Anywayz, we were thrilled to go.
Randall's Island is a 480 acre island across from Spanish Harlem, surrounded by the East River on the west, the Hell Gate on the East, and the Bronx Kill on the north. Sounds like a refuge for the damned I guess, but it's actually just a great venue for outdoor concerts and sporting events. Go figure. I had never been, so the prospect of taking a ferry to an island made the whole trip that much more of an adventure.
I was not particularly fond of any of the bands on the bill prior to the show. LCD Soundsystem has always sounded good to me, but I only own a few of their singles. I know that they are some white boys playing no-wavey, techy, live drums club music, which is cute, but I have always gone to the source for dance music, and by the source, I mean black folks. But that doesn't stop me from appreciating people who make good music. Arcade Fire I had heard only a few times, mostly on the web. All I did know is that I've always found them impossible to describe, which seemed to mean that they were, in fact, doing something new. And truly "new" in music is hard to come by IMO, so I was eager to really find out what the shit was all about.
The venue was massive. Maybe four football fields deep and one football field wide. Beer and pretzel vendors lines the perimeter. And for some reason they also sold Colombian arepas, which lead me to suspect they must hold soccer games there for Latinos. Not sure.
The weather was perfect. The sun was setting as we arrived and the temperature was like 70 or something, with a slight breeze. One of those waning days of NY summer that makes you sigh and try to soak it all in before the cold black snow arrives.
SEX - imaginary or real, it doesn't suck
The crowd was white and young and varied. Hipsters and frat boys and everything in between. Lots of skinny jeans and big sunglasses. A fair amount of ecstasy grins and port-o-let coke bumps. The women looked smoking hot, as almost all women seem to look in New York, and the guys looked like fucking dorks who I wanted to punch. But who cares? The women looked great. New York is just crawling with beautiful women. To put this in perspective, allow me to relate an embarrassingly shallow personal hobby of mine: Sometimes when I'm in a cab, I play this game to pass the time where I scan the sidewalk whizzing by, and I count how many women I would willingly sleep with (were I still single, ahem) on any given block in any part of the city at any fucking time, day or night. I swear to God, it is never less than three per city block. Often closer to six or seven, especially during the day. I'm telling you, women in NY are not playing. Now try that shit in any other city in America. You'll be lucky to find 3 attractive people within a five square mile radius in some of this nations chud-filled metropoliseez. One more reason to move to NYC if you haven't already done so. And yes, men are pigs, and I am no exception, but you knew this.
ROCK n ROLL
We arrived just before Blonde Redhead took the stage. They played moody eclectic rock that reminded me a bit of Radiohead, but more dancy. They were only a three-piece, and I kept looking up on stage wondering where the bass-player was. I guess they were using a lot of pre-recorded sequences, which is fine I guess, but would it kill them to hire a fucking bass player for their tour? I keeps it real.
LCD Soundsytem were next and they fucking KICKED ASS. White boys or not, they played house music with a live band better than anyone I have ever heard. They have a very distinct stripped down sound, where they just loop a few key elements and let that shit run. The singer is basically just some random frat-lookin' dude who can kinda sing and kinda has stage presence, but it works in that ESG kind of way. He attempted to speak to the crowd on several occasions, but was clearly so fucked up that he would slur his words and lose his train of thought in mid-sentence, to great amusement. But like I said, they sounded great. And for some reason, though I have only heard their new album a few times, almost all of the songs seemed really familiar and I even knew the words to some of them, which was weird. I finally found the double-album vinyl a few days after the show and now I put it on "All my friends" anytime I need to get dressed in a hurry.
Arcade Fire wrapped up the day with an inspiring performance. They have such a distinct sound that's so hard to put your finger on. Kind of like all the things about The Dream Academy and Bruce Hornsby and U2 and The Alarm that don't suck. I don't know what the fuck that even means, to be honest. There's also a bit of Irish folk music somewhere in there ala Black47. But that's what I like about them - nobody else really sounds like this. There songs seemed long and rather complex, yet they were full of sing-along moments. But the sing-alongs didn't sound poppy and contrived like U2. Nothing about them sounded remotely like pop music to me, and I'm always amazed to see bands with some complexity in their music draw such a huge crowd. More than anything Arcade Fire is just so god damned EPIC. Every song builds and builds and by the end, you're both thrilled and exhausted. The crowd ate it up, and I don't think anyone left the show without being impressed. I know I was.
One thing that struck me while listening to them is just how devoid of funk they are. There are almost no traces of black music anywhere. Not that there should be or needs to be, mind you, but it is noticeable to somebody like me who has spent the last 20 years fully submerged in the ever-reaching family tree of James Brown. Somebody sent me a recent New Yorker article about the whitening of Indie rock music, and, funnily enough, Arcade Fire was used as the lead example. The article tends to hit and miss IMO, but you may find it an interesting read.
New Yorker article CLICK ME
After the show we joined the long exodus of concertgoers who were making their way slowly back to Manhattan via the narrow pedestrian walkway on the Triborough Bridge, the entrance of which recalled to mind the scene in War of the Worlds when Tom Cruise is trying to get on that ferry and it's a total clusterfuck. Nevertheless, it was a fine evening for a stroll and the line for the ferry looked too damn long. I had never walked over the bridge in my 20 years in New York, so it just added to the adventure. As we approached land on the Manhattan side, about 45 minutes later, it was clear that this particular bridge doubled as an outdoor flophouse for a wide variety of junkies and random winos fond of soiling themselves and their immediate surroundings. We spilled out on to 125th st. In Harlem around midnight. An armada of 3000 white hipsters strolling down One-Two-Five at midnight on a Saturday was a sight to behold. Bewildered drivers kept slowing down to literally ask "yo yo...what's with all the white people??" Anne and I, fearing a repeat clusterfuck at the subway entrance, made a dash for the first available gypsy cab and began our long journey back to Brooklyn. The plan was a post-show, 1am dinner at Blue Ribbon Sushi in lower Park Slope. Ben, Patricia, and two mysterious Korean girls who kept passing me joints during the concert had driven there straight from the gig and secured a table, some appetizers, and a bottle of cold sake.
I sat down at the table, took an amazing bite of shiso leaf tempura, and took a long-anticpated gulp of Sopporo. I was in heaven. This particular Saturday had already delivered not only a sunset boat ride on the East River, but a fantastic fucking live show to boot. And now, to top it off, I was about to eat a meal at one of New York's greatest sushi restaurants. This was indeed one of those moments when I was overtaken with a love for New York and all it has to offer. We compared favorite moments from the various bands over plate after plate of sashimi and tempura and all manner of Blue Ribbon's bounty. The beer tasted extra crisp and for a day at least, every visible particle of the know universe just had a rosy glow that reassured me that life was indeed "good" after all.
-     NO MORE TEQUILA. LAST FERRY IS 8:20. TIME TO GO HOME
Summer in Fire Island. Not much to say other than it totally fucking rules and keeps me sane (despite the fact that Gabriel has informed me the world is ending and I am on a one-way ticket to Hell - Confused? See "the world is going to end" blog entry below).
This was my 6th summer in Davis Park, a small working class enclave located across the bay from Patchogue, Long Island, about 2 hours by train from NYC. It's the last town before the nature preserve that encompasses the Eastern half of the island, thus we are somewhat isolated from the privileged and/or flamingly gay towns that occupy the rest. Residents of Davis Park are almost exclusively Irish & Italian, with a lot of cops and firemen and their multi-generational families. Did I mention it's chock full of jailbait? Shit is ridiculous.
There is absolutely nothing to do except enjoy life. No internet. Spotty cellphone coverage. No TV. No clubs. One shitty bar and one even shittier restaurant. So we gather in groups of 8 or so each weekend and just keep to ourselves. A lot of grilled meat, wine, ice cream, Harper's, The New Yorker, InStyle, new and old fiction novels, and the Sunday Times. I got through half of The Brothers Karamozov but my attention drifted to more pressing issues like Tequila. We Lay around on the beach or sit around on the deck and eat, drink, and be merry. Those three things are not over-rated in any way shape or form, and they make the NY summer whip by in a margarita-soaked, sun-drenched haze. If you're crafty you manage to get some weekday time in as well, when things are very quiet, and that makes it all worth it.
Here are some random shots from the summer, most of them from the beach.
-     I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE
-     HIP HOP IS DEAD. LONG LIVE HIP HOP
As much as I hate to say this, I can no longer turn a blind eye. Hip Hop sucks. It really REALLY sucks. It has been sucking for a long time. We all know that. I've been in denial for almost a decade now, but I've had alls I can stands I can't stands no more.
Time was, we always had a few redeeming tracks here and there that I could point to with confidence and swiftly shut down the haters with the the tried and true mantra of we, the believers: "it's out there...yo just gotta dig". And that was true. It really was. But those days are truly gone, my friends. Long gone.
I've been putting this off for years. I really have. I kept DJing. I kept making mixtapes. I kept buying records that I knew were just plain SHIT. Records that would disappear in 3 weeks. Records that should have never been made by no-skill-having dumbfucks who should have never been signed in the first place.
Yet, there was always something to give me hope. Some joint would come out that would help me push the demons back under the bed, if just for one more gig.
But these days? Good God. I mean, WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED? How did our standards get SO fucking low? How and when did we stop caring if an MC had skillz? I mean, that was the whole point of this shit - remember? S-K-I-DOUBLE-L to the mother fucking Z. Maybe I'm just old, and god knows I am fucking old, but today's top 10 rappers couldn't get a fucking record deal to save their life 20 years ago. Lil Wayne is the best rapper alive? Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit. 50 Cent? Are you fucking kidding me? He sounds like Mase meets Puffy on a bad day, after he took some Valium. Speaking of Puffy...that mother fucker is performing in stadiums like he's mother fucking Phil Collins? The whole Hip Hop world used to LAUGH when Puffy picked up the mic. Now he's on the #1 remix like he can rhyme or something. WHAT THE FUCK? "This is why I'm Hot" is the best lyrics NYC has to offer? Really? Rick Ross rhymes "Atlantic" with "Atlantic" and nobody throws a fucking bottle at his face? WHAT THE FUCK?
I mean, there's always been sucky rappers, don't get me wrong. But they were the exception, not the rule. We tolerated them because nobody took them seriously, and we still had real stars repping real Hip Hop. But now? Sheeeeeeeeeit.
Without the most basic of standards, we'll swallow anything. Which brings me to the song that broke the camels back. This is it folks, the final nail in Hip Hop's coffin. It can get no lower than this. It really can't.
SOULJAH BOY - YAAA BITCH --- click this link to hear what the death knell of Hip Hop sounds like
And this is a song from one of the biggest rap stars on the planet right now. A headlining act making money all over the place. It's amusing in a sad way, I'll give you that. But I'm, not laughing with it, I'm laughing AT it. And THIS is what we are calling HIp Hop? Fuck that noise. These no-skill-having idiots and their tone-deaf fans can fucking have it. It's a wrap.
-     THE WORLD IS GOING TO END. FRANK SAID SO
My brain is fucked. I really don't know how this happened, or why, but for as long as I can remember, I have had intensely vivid dreams, most of which I can remember in great detail for at least 30 minutes after I wake up, if not indefinitely. A good percentage of these dreams are nightmares bordering on the ultra-violent. Others are just ominous moody warnings about violence to come. Some, of course, are just complete random gibberish that aren't frightening in the least. I almost never have good sex dreams either.
There are recurring classic themes of frustration and powerlessness, usually manifested in either all of my teeth falling out, or a physical altercation with some fearsome foe, where I am trying to beat the shit out of somebody yet my blows seem to do nothing at all. I have the latter one quite often. Always a different person, always a different scenario, but always the same result. They win, I lose. Thankfully, I suppose, the embarrassingly simple symbolism these nocturnal brawls represent isn't too difficult to decipher. At least not on the surface. The thing is, though, I have never felt particularly overwhelmed by helplessness, and in truth I'm really quite a mild-mannered guy. So... WTF?
Part of me thinks my subconscious has become super violent in order to balance the relative calm and considered reason of my waking life. Part of me also wonders if all of the violence in the thousands of movies I watch hasn't sunk in and poisoned my brain. I'll never forget having my Father walk in on my sister and I watching Reservoir Dogs after Christmas dinner one night. He walked in to the room right as Mr. Blonde is slicing off the cop's ear with a straight razor. Merry fucking Christmas. He seemed really mad and confused. He looked at us like we were freaks and asked "why the hell would you want that image in your brain?" We looked at him and kind of giggled, and he stormed out of the room. It was a good question, and one I've never been able to answer.
The reason that I'm bringing all of this up is lately my dreams have gotten particularly dark, and the simple translation is that either the world is going to end any minute now, or, at the very least, I myself am going to Hell sooner than later. This started a couple of months ago, when I had two vivid dreams back to back.
In the first dream, Anne comes home from work and informs me that somebody mailed her an audio tape, followed up by an anonymous phone call telling her that the tape contains proof that I am cheating on her. She is holding a large square manila envelope with no return address and she's fucking pissed. I tell her to go ahead and play the tape, because I have nothing whatsoever to hide, and somebody is just fucking with us. She clearly doesn't believe me. She opens the envelope and pulls out what is actually not a tape, but a gate-fold LP that looks conspicuously like Led Zeppelin IV, aka "Zoso". Not exactly the same, mind you, but when she unfolds the album there are all these weird hand-drawn symbols that look like they were drawn by the same illustrator that drew the inside cover of Led Zeppelin IV - you know, that tall, old, wizard dude holding a lamp, gazing down at us mortals from the top of some misty mountain. And, if you recall, this LP also contained four symbols, which stoned high school kids are still pondering to this day. This dream LP didn't have any tall, old, wizard dude, but there were a ton of weird cryptic symbols hand drawn in black and white.
I tell her to put the album on and we'll see who's lying here. As luck would have it, for some reason, there was a brand new Technics 1200 turntable sitting right in the middle of my bed. So we both got on the bed and put the vinyl on to listen to this supposed proof of my infidelity.
But there was no voice on the LP, at least not one speaking English. The recording was actually just this collage of growls and screams and other horrifying noises, with one totally fucking evil voice speaking some long incantation in Aramaic on top of it all. We played the LP almost the whole way through. Anne looked confused, as she doesn't speak Aramaic and there seemed to be nothing at all about me getting some strange on the side. All of a sudden it hit me. HOLY SHIT! This was a recording with one solitary and nefarious purpose: it was the reading of a spell, meant to conjure Satan, and by playing it aloud, we had done just that. OOPS! Then the lights went out. I said "WE'RE FUCKED!". Then I woke up.
I sat up in bed for a minute. "Man, I've seen too many fucking Satan movies" I thought to myself. Come to think of it, this dream was kind of EVIL DEAD 2 (the recording conjuring Satan) meets Michael Hanneke's CACHE (the anonymous package revealing your secrets) - two very great and very fucked up movies in their own way. WTF? I went back to sleep.
The second dream was much more fantastic and didn't take place on earth. It was sort of inside some kind of abstract video game world. I don't even play video games anymore, mind you, but it reminded me of the demo version of Super Mario Brothers Galaxy that was all over the web last year. This game isn't even out yet, I don't think, but Nintendo finally got out of that 2D running and jumping shit and has advanced to this 3D universe, where Super Mario can literally fly through the universe, jumping from planet to planet. Like I said, I don't even play games, and I've always hated super Mario Brothers, but this looks truly awesome.
Anyway, in my dream, I was riding a horse with a bunch of hot chicks in semi-transparent flowing clothes. Embarrassingly gay and cliche, but whatever. We were riding horses around some Versailles-looking garden, which was on a large plane of earth that was literally floating in space. Not space, really, as there were no stars. Just a gigantic limitless black void. There were several other planes floating above and below, and at will you could leap out of the garden and jump thousands of feet up or down to another plane. These jumps were huge. Like those huge mile-long jumps only The Hulk can make. Each plane contained a different cool-looking environment. One was a forest. One was mostly a lake. One had these big ruins of some industrial building.
So I'm running around with this herd of babes on horses and were exploring all of these magical floating planes, jumping from one to the next and having a grand old time. What's not to like, right? We finally arrived back at the Versailles garden plane, but then things got weird.
All of a sudden, everyone's mood changed. All of the girls looked really scared. One chick looks dead at me. She is crying and terrified. She says "It's begun". I start asking everybody what the fuck is going on, but nobody will tell me. It''s clear that there is something EVIL present, and in some way or another, the end is at hand. The women, all crying and screaming, get off their horses and scatter in all directions, looking for a place to hide. I don't know what to do, but I figure I'll be safe if I can just get back to that other floating plane below, the one with the abandoned industrial building. I gallop towards the edge and leap off. As I clear the edge, I look down in horror as I see all of the other planes disappearing in to thin air, one by one. Fuck. Just as I am about to land on the industrial building, it disappears, along with my horse and everything else other than the garden above.I look up in horror as I plummet helplessly downward in to the black void. I'm falling and falling and the light of the garden is getting smaller and smaller. I am engulfed in sheer terror. Just as the light disappears, and I know I am dead, I wake up screaming "DARKNESS!!!!"
I am sweating and shaking. Lucky for me, Anne sleeps like a rock and me screaming "DARKNESS!!!" in the middle of the night is not enough to wake her up from her happy giggle-land. After that, I really didn't want to go back to sleep.
In retrospect, this dream was kind of SUPER MARIO BROTHERS GALAXY (jumping through space) meets TIME BANDITS (the floating planes in that black void) meets ZARDOZ (the garden utopia filled with scantily clad women) meets PARADISE LOST (permanent exile from the garden from Milton and that other famous book) meets EVENT HORIZON (the scariest moment ever where that guy is crawling around in those computer-panel access-tunnel, and the lights go out, then the lights come back on and his dead wife is sitting there with solid black eyes and she grabs his arm and calmly and forbiddingly says "FOREVER!"). Yes, movies have definitely fucked my brain.
As you can see, there is a distinct recurring theme of my own death and the end of the world. Not just from these two dreams, but from all of the others too. In the last two weeks I've had two different dreams where I personally spoke with the Archangel Gabriel. He keeps telling me that the world is going to end. In a way, I guess, he's kind of like Frank the metal-head rabbit from DONNIE DARKO, but way cooler. Gabriel, as you probably know, is classically depicted as the messenger of God. In the Talmud, among other things, he is the voice of the burning bush, the guy that tells Noah to gather all those freakin' animals, and the guy who waits until the very last second to tell Abraham not to kill his son Isaac (probably the most compelling story in the entire Bible IMO). In Paradise Lost he is an Armor-plated bad-ass, leading the army that defends heaven from Satan. This is how he usually appears in my dreams. In full armor with wings and the whole shebang, telling me to get ready to die and spend eternity in Hell. Great news, huh? And I don't even believe in God, much less Satan. Oh well. Consider yourself warned.
-     WEIRD STUFF I DO WHEN I'M BORED
I was on a conference call recently with the production company that makes this TV show on A and E called "The First 48". I am currently part of a team developing some interstitial content for the network based on the detectives in the show. Anyway, we got to talking about good cops and bad cops and right before we hung up the call somebody mentioned the movie BAD LIEUTENANT. Someone in the room hadn't seen the movie, and we got to talking about it's brutal genius or ultimate suckiness, give or take. Almost immediately, my boy Kyle Baron-Cohen, in his usual stream-of-consciousness mode, blurts out "color me badd lieutenant!". We looked at each other in mutual "Eureka!" amazement. The rest is history.
"Color Me Badd Lieutenant" CLICK ME
-     A TSHIRT I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO OWN
I have no idea who this kid is, but this T shirt is on some next level mensa type shit
-     WE'RE GETTIN' THE OLD BAND BACK TOGETHER
Way back in March I had the great fortune of once again getting to spin some records with my old DJ partner Jules Gayton. He was in town to do a party for the launch of some skater shoe for Vans, and he asked myself and Dante Ross if we'd like to spin with him.
Dante Ross is a true legend of the NY Hip Hop scene. He began as an intern in the very early days of Def Jam and clawed his way up in the record industry as a successful producer (SD50) and brilliant A&R guy. He went on to form his own record labels and continues to develop artists of all kinds. He is the Dante in De La Soul's legendary "Dante is a scrub" skit from their very first album. Betta axe somebody. If nothing else, he should be given a medal just for discovering BUSTA RHYMES. I mean seriously, that's like finding the one and only living leprechaun and saying "you know what? I COULD keep you all to myself, but fuck that, the world needs leprechauns" and unleashing him on the planet. He is an infamous brawler, and we may never have even met had we not almost come to blows with each other at Soul Kitchen many moons ago.
The party was a gas and a few old friends stopped by to pay their respects to us old heads. Here are a few pics.
Oh, BTW, Jules was kind enough to give me a dope CD of some rare disco, and I put a bunch of them on a recent mix, entitled "15 reasons to dance", which is in the mixes section of this site.
-     I AM EASILY AMUSED. I REALLY AM
-     TOO BAD SHE WON'T LIVE
They just recently released the "final cut" of BLADERUNNER, and seeing it again on the biggest screen in the city was such a delight I went twice.
This latest incarnation is really just for us nerds. There are no substantial extra scenes, or definitive clues which solve the "is Deckard a replicant" debate. Just little nerdy details like the serial number of the snake-scale matches the one the fish lady reads aloud, and the number of replicants we encounter in the film matches the number Deckard's boss describes in their initial conversation. The kind of thing people like me have been arguing about over beers and on message boards for the last 25 years. The stupid Shining B-roll footage from the end credits of the original theatrical release are gone, as you would expect, as is the voiceover. Edward James Olmos gets a bit more screen time, but not much more character development.
They also did a lot of digital restoration, cleaning up all of the mattes around the space-ships and digitally compositing Joanna Cassidy's face over the body double stuntwoman who crashes through the windows. That scene alone is worth the price of admission. The way the neon is reflecting off of all of these layers of windows, plus the reflections in her plastic see-thru raincoat, plus the defocused foreground and background lights, plus the lens reflections...it all just gives you endless amounts of detail to study.
Visually, the entire film is a wonder to behold. The outdoor shots look breathtakingly beautiful, and seeing it twice allowed me to really wander around each frame and catch little stylizations of buildings and dramatic forced perspective matte paintings I had heretofore ignored. The cinematographer's use of light and reflection throughout the film is just jaw-dropping. I feel like you could watch the whole movie with all of the dialogue removed and still enjoy it just as much as a piece of visual art.
The crowd on the closing night was especially excited, cheering loudly for every name in the credits (Vangelis most of all!). Somebody in the front row raised a neon umbrella, a souvenir from the film that has probably been collecting dust in this guy's closet for 25 years.
No matter what mediocrity Ridley Scott may produce on the downward slope of his later years, he can still hold up this film and say with all sincerity few director's have ever made anything remotely as cool as Bladerunner. The 5-disc box set gets released next month, and I will be the first in line to get it.
You can peep it here CLICK ME
-     CONEY ISLAND (robot) BABY
Daft Punk at Coney Island. Talk about mind blowing. Hands down the most impressive thing I've ever seen two DJs do in my life. Not only does their music sound about 1000 times more kick ass live, but they have the most insane light show you will ever see. Despite it being relatively low tech and all 80s realness, it keeps changing up with every song, and it was simply mesmerizing. Did I mention they are DJing in a 20 foot video pyramid spaceship thing, with a 200 foot long 60 foot high LED curtain behind them screaming out lyrivs and creating black holes and sunsets and fucking explosions and galaxies and HOLY SHIT did their robot suits just turn in to TRON robot suits?!?!?!
These guys really understand what to do with club music in a live setting. Constantly remixing shit on the fly. Bringing back acapellas and little riffs from songs. Just WORKING that shit, for two hours. Talk about a party. See these dudes live. Shit is ridiculous.
This Youtube link below might give you an inkling of how fun this was:
-     I'M SO GLAD WE SHARED THIS TIME TOGETHER
That's about it for this quarter's blog-worthy musings. I've was gonna write about the WHITE STRIPES show at MSG and tell some old Brooklyn Hip Hop war stories but dag nabbit I just haven't gotten around to it. In 4 days I leave for 2 weeks in Peru, where I am going to do be doing yoga twice a day, sleeping in a Tipi at the top of the Andes, losing my mind on ayuhuasca amidst the ruins of Machu Pichu, and, as always, repping BK to the fullest. Full report and hopefully a dutifully detailed journal when I get back.
-     4/2/07 - SATURDAY NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF AN OLD DJ
10:30pm 2 boxes and 1 bag fully loaded. Thought about taking Kwame and Bahamadia,but decided to leave em. Was gonna take the Live Donny Hathaway, but then remembered I had already packed the greatest hits LP, which has the live version of "The Ghetto" that I fucking love. Packing for two parties. Two crowds. limited space. Decisions decisions. Visible: Schooly D "Saturday Night" 12". Vicki Sue Robinson. Maybe that's in the wrong jacket.
Car service arrives outside my building. I live in a converted loft building on Tillary and Flatbush. Downtown Brooklyn. No man's land, really. Nestled between the police station, the firehouse, Fort Greene Projects, and the most fucked up deli on planet earth. Wife and I call it "the belligerent deli", cuz there is always mad drama going on in there. Somebody fucked up somebody's sandwich or some shit. Lots of yelling. Arab dudes fed up, not taking ANY shit.
Tyrone and the Frank's door crew looking sharp. It's Tyrone and Terry's birthday. Love all of these guys like brothers.
11:17pm First record: Herb Alpert "Rotation" from the Mastercuts Jazz/Funk series. In walks my man DJ Samir. We catch up over 2 Redstripes while classics are played and people filter in slowly. Samir says he hasn't DJ'd in a few months. Got a government job at the VA Hospital now. Trying to put a party together with DJ Center. Tells me found a 12" of Tom Browne "Thighs High" for $5 at A1. Dick. Tells me he first heard me playing at Don Hills in 1996. Long time ago. Still in my 20s. Damn. I play more shit. Patrice Rushen "You Remind Me". Kellee Patterson "Turn Out the Lights". The Jacksons "Show Me The Way To Go". Patti Austin. The older women get it.
Set up my crates. Visible" De La Soul "Say No Go". Barrington Levy "Too Experienced". Kurtis Blow "The Breaks". Biggie "Hypnotize". Records below mine are Tyrone's that stay in the club.
Crowd starts moving. Mary J Blige "You Bring Me Joy" really gets them up. Musiq "For the Night" keeps the pace. Should play something recent but fuck it, not feeling it. More RandB. Then "Gin and Juice". Then "Bitch Please" bootleg w/Xibit pictured here.
My man Dom Nice shows up. We used to DJ together. Doing house parties in Fort Greene/Bed Stuy in 1988-1992. One time we threw a "Free James Brown" party at a brownstone. Jimmmy Fingers' apartment, before he was known as Jimmy Fingers and was just that obnoxious kid with the skateboard. There was so many people jumping up and down on the third floor, the ceiling started to collapse. One of Jimmy's roomates ran upstairs in hysterics, yelling that the walls were buckling, which they actually were. There was a big split down the ceiling of the 2nd floor. Plaster evereywhere. Whoa. Close call. I think it was during Todd Terry's "Samba" (House of Gypises). Love that track. Break down the walls.
Playing with DJ infinite tonight. Not solo like usual. Special occasion - "The Taurus Affair". He takes over. I run upstairs. Disciple is already in his groove. Such a beautiful person. Always glowing. Disciple is a legend among house DJs in Brooklyn. Rep'd hard back in the early 90s. Went overseas a lot. Still does. Still beating it.
Room filling up. Amu in the house (bald head, arms in the air), feeling it.Tells me she's too sweaty to hug me. Fuck that. I move in close. She's the sexiest woman alive I swear to God.
Back at the booth.Two legends discussing a third legend. Disciple and Strafe (yes, "Set it Off on the left, y'all" Strafe) pass around a book of get well wishes for Camacho. Everybody writes in it. Camacho is one of the original underground NY DJs to blow up. Laid the foundation overseas for cats bringing the raw NY sound to the masses. Diabetes is doing a number on him, but he's fighting. Another soldier. Hanging on. I think about how he represented all of us back in the day. Putting in work, For real. Stay strong bro. We need heros.
Back downstairs. Cake frosting ceiling. My favorite thing about Frank's. Digging this bartender. Seriously. Oh shit. I'm married. Get another Red Stripe and keep it moving.
Head back to the stage at the back of the room, where the booth is. Room is really moving now. Slick Rick 'Mona Lisa". Everybody sings the Dionne Warwick shit. Everybody knows it. Gotta come back strong. Something hot.
Girl in the green has had my eye all night. She can move. Her man is whatever. Not feeling him at all. Need another Red Stripe.
DJ Infinite doing his thing. Plays that Swizz Beats "chillin in my beamer, listening to ether" shit. OH MY GOD that beat is crazy. This other girl in the green danced in that one spot the entire night. Beautiful. Knows her rockers and her soca. DJ One from Brooklyn (edge of frame) appreciates.
I run through a bunch of reggae. Dom Nice gets on the mic and starts hyping the West Indians up. Funny how them Jamaicans turn on the accent when they get on the mic. Four Supercats. "Mud Up" into "Don Dadda" into "Nuff Man a Die" in to "Dem No Worry We". Then Capleton "Number One Pon The Look Good Chart". Somehow end up on "Chase Vampire". Then "Kimbo King". Always gets a reaction. Shabba Ranks "Wine Wine". "Bonafide Love" - "you may not beeee...a movie sta-ar". INfinite played all the super-fast new stuff so I can go strictly classics.
Records all over the place. Visible: Mega Banton "Sound Boy Killing" (the original on the One Drop riddim). best of Reggae 2007 LP. Bunch of other dancehalll 12s. "Tell Me", "Tingaling", "Living Dangerously". I gotta bounce at 3:45 to make it to my next gig at Melting Pot. I run through as much reggae as I can. That's what I'm known for and the crowd keeps asking when I'm gonna "RUN DE CHOON!" Break out the "Joyride" doubles. Drop the drumroll. Bass hits. BOOM. Crowd like "ooooohhhh". Run through 16 bars of 7 songs. No more no less. Gotta change my needles. Pack up my shit with the quickness. TC helps me through the crowd with my crates.
Out on Fulton street and hail the first car service I see. Hoping for a yellow but no luck. Egyptian dude. Rolls down his window "Where you going?" he says. Me: "Canal and Mott" How much you pay?" yellow cab would've been $10 with tip. "12" I tell him. "No sir. Must charge you $20". FUCK. Got no choice. Got to get to Melting Pot by 4am. It's 3:44. $20 it is. FUCK let's go. Zip past a deserted Junior's Cheescake. Brooklyn landmark. Pride of the boro.
Manhattan Bridge. Trying to take photos out the window without dropping my new camera. Driver getting pissed off cuz the camera flash keeps going off in his rear view. Leave me along and just don't wreck, dude.
Get to Melting Pot at 3:47am. Just made it. Room is packed. Loose is on the mic, bidding farewell to Nicky Siano who just finished. Damn I missed his whole set. I'm gonna say right here that I somehow don't have ONE picture of Loose. It's a fucking tragedy. Dude was always dancing with 3 chicks. Lucky bastard. Space looked great. Tons of balloons. Did Loft Kid Luis do them? Hmmm. I hear he's out of town. Damn. Wanted to see him more than almost anyone. His mom took him to every Loft party since the early 70s. Mancuso must be his Godfather or some shit.
Kervyn gets on, working "Tribute". The turntables keep skipping. Not on rubber bands. Too many people dancing too close, shaking the ground. FUCK. Now I can't play any of the vinyl I brought. Was gonna lead off with "Say No Go" just to fuck with people. FUCK. What now? Gotta play CDs only. This messes up my whole vibe. Damn. Plus I have no idea what the other DJs played. FUCK.
Go check in with Melting Pot's House Mama. Rhina. Always beautiful. Always smiling. I give her 3 mix CDs. Gotta pay tribute. she makes me a Tequila on the rocks. No charge. Sweet. I hate Cuervo but fuck it, I'm already 6 Red Stripes in and it's after 4.
I get on. First record: Fela "Opposite People" (a short-ish edit I did with the "Ebioso" drums). Crowd feeling it. I crank up the booth. People cringe. I'm fucking deaf.
Anne shows up. she breezed through the apartment at 7:15pm while I was digging through the record shelves. She worked in a community garden with kids all day. She balances out all the evil corporate advertising I do. She met her girl Melinda for dinner in Manhattan, then went to a movie premier at the Tribeca Film Festival, then went to a loft party in Red Hook Brooklyn, the came to hear me spin. She shows up with Andreas and my girl Ayo, who has been dancing with a company in the south of France for 8 months. Can't believe she made it!
Kerri Chandler "Rising the Sun" - another 10 minute edit. I pretty much have to play this just to feel comfortable. I drink a Red Bull. Run the 83 West vocals from"It's The Spirit". Bass down. Mid up. Can't seem to lock the tempo. Fuck. Do two verses. Still have 4 minutes left. Eject. Put in Kem. Run Kem vocals on top. Herb Martin is right in front of me. Kamala and Kervyn to my left. Lil Ray comes up and demands "KILL IT JULIAN! DO IT!" Orders from the general. Can't fuck up now. Pressure's on. Lot of Shelter heads in the place. They get my CDs. Now I gotta deliver. And no vinyl. FUCK. There's alwaysa curve ball. Nothing is ever easy. Not for DJs.
Play a couple more house tunes. Black Magic. Robert Owens. FUCK. Gotta do something original. Can't just play safe. Robbi says the Black Magic record is the best song of the night. FUCK IT. Drop Jesto Funk. You know, the B-side mix with the crazy long sax intro. Floor stops and looks confused. Bass drops like a bomb. "Come With Me.....Tonight's The Night". One of my favorite early 90s jams. Grooving at about 108 bpm or something. Crowd digging it. What the fuck goes with this? Kim English "It Makes a Difference". perfect. I actually wrote cue at 8:50 on the CD to skip the whole intro. Thank god I did that. Crowd really feeling it. Such a great song. Ray runs over "Now you GOT em!" Maybe I do. What next? Two Tons of Fun "Just us". No doubt. I can run the intro drums over that acapella part at the end of Kim English. Works fucking perfect. "Just Us" BLARING. Women run up and bless me.
JV in the house. James Vincent. he's with Jenn. Always smiling. A DJ who dances. Thank god. I tell him how excited I am about doing the Bedford Hill's party next month. "Just Us" in to "Let Me Show The Way to Go". Even Herb is dancing. That makes me feel good. Big ass ankh pendant swinging. Now what? How deep can I go? "Little Boy Blue". Chaka. FUCK IT. Jamie 326 and Richie Rich from Chicago turned me on to this. Changed my life in just that way a song can. Been listening to it for 2 months straight. Song starts. Floor stops dead in their tracks. FUCK I guess not everybody is feeling this. Actually almost nobody. DAMN. Then a guy runs up almost in tears he's so happy, and bows to me gratefully. That made it all worth it. Some Shelter heads way in the back losing their mind. Reeling Lofting. OK. Don't sweat it. Damn those strings sound nice. Phil D. in the house. Dude always has a record bag. ALWAYS. Wayne with the sound. My man. Gotta find another record.
Look around the room. People giving me the "c'mon man, give us something!" look. Transition back in to house. Boobjazz "Midnight Ceremony" seems about right. It's 5:15am. Red Bull has me wired. See Ken from Shelter. This guy wears a Superman shirt EVERY time he goes out. No exceptions. He's also a photographer. Wonderful guy. He's in my CD loop. Always have to hit him off. He tells me that Shelter got closed by the cops. Some new Sergeant giving them grief. DAMN. I was gonna go to Shelter after this. Also on the guestlist at Pacha for some 24 hour S+M party. Fuck that. Pacha's all uptown n shit. Nah. Run some more house. Cute girl in her 20s comes up and asks "who is this wonderful singer?" Kenny Latimore, baby. I play the long instrumental first, where it builds up from just the keys,. Then the vocal. Crowd jumping again. Live drums! Thank you Masters at Work. Kervyn tells me I'm done at 5:30. FUCK. Though I was playing til 7. Damn. Should I have played differently. Second guessing again. I end with "Umi Says". Everybody sings "I want my people to be free to be free to be free". And I'm done. Just like that. Seems like I barely played 15 records. I get another Tequila and dance to that Jenifer Hudson song. "What about what I need". Love it. Birthday cake for Loose. Lots of long hugs. Can't BELIEVE I didn't get a photo. FUCK. Kervyn plays some nice tunes. Osunlade. Whatev. Kamala plays "Help Is On The Way". Damn homegirl is cute. Kervyn plays "Endgames". I do some sloppy Spanish Hustle with the wife. VERY sloppy. Legs tired from standing since 11pm. Crowd is thin now. Gracious thanks to my man Kervyn and his partner Kamala. Rhina. Maggie. Cute girl with the glasses at the door. Get my money and I'm out. Dude yells out of a parked car as I head for Canal "NICE SET!"
Jump back in a cab. Back on the bridge. Sun coming up. Gloomy day. heading to the crib with wifey and Sal Paradise for a 7:30am spliff. Sal had also played at his regular gig in the village last night. Came straight to Melting Pot just to hang. I would have included his photo, but he looks like too much of a burnout in the photo and I'm a nice guy.
Records back home safe. Shoes off. I tell Sal (Sam) about this portrait of Sly Stone. Friend of mine, Valentine (just one name, like Madonna) lived in a loft in San Francisco with a bunch of guys. one of them was a floor refinisher, and also a Meth addict. One day he called up my boy Valentine and told him he was refinishing the floors in Sly Stone's parents' house. They had just moved and left all kinds of stuff in the basement. He was to tweaked on Meth too drive home, so he said whomever in the loft picks him up gets in their car gets anything they want in the house. This is what Valentine got. He mailed it to me 3 months ago as a belated wedding present. That is some LOVE right there. Visible: Eric B+Rakim "Don't Sweat The Technique". Pretenders second album. Le Tigre. Husker Du. Super Disco Brakes. Tascam tape decks. CD dubber. Asshole dying plant.
My apartment is a wreck. Weed should have made me sleepy but no, too much Red Bull. And no Shelter. DAMN. Spliff. Drink some seltzer. Anne falls asleep on couch immediatley. I call a car for Sam. Old BLS tapes from 88. I used to draw pictures of skeletons DJing n shit on them with colored markers and write corny shit like DIS BE DEADLY and DEF RHYMES. Embarrassing.
Can't sleep. Fuck it. I'm posting this shit on the web........Visible: Earh Wind and Fire "Another Time". Jane's Addiction. Donny Hathaway. Talking Heads. A little red bit of Janet "Control" LP. Kool & The Gang "Wild and Peaceful". Fuck I need to go to sleep.
-     MY EVENING WITH SATAN
For the last 6 weeks I have been working on a show called Metal Mania for VH1. Doing so has thankfully re-connected with me a bit with long neglected metal head past. Not that I was ever a real metal head, mind you. Prior to succumbing to hip hop, I was basically a hardcore kid who got really in to Motorhead and Metallica and Maiden and a few other bands that started with the letter M. Anyway, in order to get in the right head for making kick ass evil graphics, I bought Metallica's first 3 albums again and stayed up very very late every night listening to them while I worked. Hadn't heard these tracks in about 17 years and I still remembered the words. Say what you want about those guys now, but in their day, nobody could fuck with Metallica.
Anyway, the reason I mention this is that my boy Stewart recently told me about an upcoming black metal show at BBking's Bar and Grill and asked me if I was down to get my evil on. Death metal and Black Metal were never really my thing, but I've been banging my head so much at my computer as of late, I figured, what the fuck. I should preface the following with the admission that I know VERY little about this genre of metal, so forgive any factual errors that may present themselves in my newbie report.
The show was 4 bands: Averse Sefira, Nachtmystium, Goatwhore, and the headliner: 1349, who are the real deal from Norway. In case you are unaware, it is the Norwegians more than anybody that really took this black metal shit and ran with it. I guess the Pagan Viking thing really struck a chord with those crazy bastards. They've been getting a lot of press over the last few years, thanks to a few murders and a few church burnings. They take this evil shit pretty seriously.
BBking's Bar + Grill is a cheezy tourist venue located right in the middle of all the Bladerunner-meets-Disney madness that is Times Square. On top of that, this show was starting at 7pm on a Sunday night, which is prime-time tourist douchebag hour (actually, that is 24/7 up in that part of the city). Funny thing is, I happen to know that BBKing's does a gospel choir brunch on Sundays, so basically, they went from God to Satan in about 45 minutes. Whomever books that place definitely has a sense of humor. They also have a big theater marquee right on 42nd street, which simply said 1349 and GOATWHORE in big black letters. You could have made a movie just catching tourist reactions to the word Goatwhore, trust me.
The venue itself, is fucking cheezy. It looks like something straight out of Circus Circus in Las Vegas. Big shiny glossy wooden bar. Cheap vinyl banquets on the perimeter. The ugliest carpet on planet earth that they must have stolen from a casino, and a lame generic staff clad in black. That said, it is still a really good place to see a band. Good size, good acoustics, and you can see the stage from anywhere in the place.
I was super excited to be going to my first metal show in over 15 years. The last one I attended was...fuck...I'm not even sure. Maybe Motorhead/Manowar in about 1990 at the old Ritz in NYC. Wait...didn't the old Ritz close before that? Shit. Maybe it was even in the 80s. Fuck, I'm old.
I was really curious what a black metal audience would look like. I assumed that if their heroes took the evil stuff so seriously that they were painting themselves like corpses, burning churches, and murdering their friends, this crowd might have similar hobbies. I walked in at 8:15pm to discover that they looked pretty much like any regular old run-of-the-mill metal head. Well, like that, but without any of the Party-Hardy Wayne's World Excellent vibe that was always present at any metal show in the 80s/90s. These people were not like that. They were not partying dudes making out with two chicks in the backseat of a camaro. cool. They were not cool. They were outsiders. They were weird. They were comic book nerds. Trenchcoat mafiosos. They seek out the most extreme music that alienates as many people as possible. All of that I can relate to a great deal.
Every single person was in black jeans/black Tshirt with band logo/black leather jacket. And I do mean every single person. There were some chicks there. Not many. but a few, and some of them even looked like they owned a mirror. The level of corpse-paint in the house was very disappointing. Only a handful of kids even bothered. Everybody else was kinda blah. I was really hoping for a considerably higher degree of evil, but it was not to be. Some douche next to me even had one of the standard leather jackets with all the Satanic band patches on it, then way down in the corner, by his waist, he had a fucking "Return of the Jedi" patch. JEDI? are you fucking kidding me? I can think of no two forces more diametrically opposed than Satan and the Ewoks.
Evil : ZERO.
Gay furry puppets: ONE.
Then, when I went to the bathroom, some guy was bitching at the bathroom attendant because he didn't have any hair gel. Getting all whiny about hair gel? The dark lord does not approve. I laughed at him out loud while at the urinal. Couldn't resist. I think I laughed because I was already on the verge of a chuckle after reading the upcoming BB King schedule, which was posted over the urinal. There was an Sunday night gig with a band called BIG SHOT - a Billy Joel cover band. I don't know why, but the fact that somebody would call their band Big Shot, without any irony, was funny as shit to me.
Then I finally see a kid who's really down for the cause:
Platform goth boots. Leather trenchcoat. And his face painted like Kind Diamond.
Now we're getting somewhere.
I sidled up next to him as Goatwhore took the stage, hoping that people would think he was in my crew and were both total bad-asses. As soon as the band got on stage, he pulled out a digital camera and took about 6 pictures OF HIMSELF, pausing between shots to check if he got his expression right. What a fucking douchebag. I should have sent him to Asmodeus right then, but I had paid $17.50 plus a $2.50 service charge, and I wasn't gonna let this nancyboy Crow-wannabe spoil my one chance to feel the power of Satan again. No way.
The show itself was great. Goatwhore kicked fucking ass. A wall of roaring sound. Like super-fast speed metal with everything removed except crunchy chords. No guitar solos. No noodly riffs. Just head on full frontal assault, that would occasionally switch up in to these wicked crunchy slow parts that demanded a severe head banging. I had forgotten how close a cousin black metal is to the thrash of yesteryear. At least to my old ears. Like the fastest D.R.I. song, played on 45, with down-tuned guitars that are ear-splitting and tight as hell. And of course, the prerequisite guy yelling like a demon on top of all that in a voice that sounds like gravel ripping through your flesh when you wiped out on your bike when you were 10. And the song titles were the best part. Every tune had an 8 word title, something along the lines of "This song is called...My eyes are the chaos witnessing the befoulment in the devil's abyss". I do not exaggerate.
More than anything, I was just really struck by the fact that blues music had somehow evolved in to this. 50 years ago it was 4 bar blues, now it's fucking demons screaming over somebody's warped interpretation of what they think the soundtrack of Hell is. How fucking cool is that? Then again, I suppose Wagner and a few others have certainly done something very similar in their own way. So maybe this is not such a radical offspring after all. In any case, I was digging it.
1349 took it all one step further with the whole makeup and costume thing. One of the guitarists looked as close to Eddie from Iron Maiden as a human can get. All of them had black blood painted on their faces as if they had just drank some Penzoil. I wonder who did that first? The whole "dried black blood stains below the mouth" thing. It's a real black metal staple. Probably all goes back to the Godfather, Alice Cooper. Man I wish I would have seen him in his day. the BiIlion Dollar Baby tour? Whoa. That would have been amazing. My brother in law still won't shut up about it to this day. Dick. Anyhoo, it makes for good theatre. To my undiscerning ears, their music was pretty much a lot like Goatwhore, but without the cool slow breakdowns. So there was less crunchy shit to bang your head to. Bummer. Still, the crowd was feeling it. Some semblance of a pit going on in front of the stage. Thank god kids still have some music they deem slam-worthy that is not just fucking 311 or some bullshit. 1349 were definitely more evil, which I think pleased the crowd a great deal. There was no between song banter. No dropping out of character. They weren't fucking around, and people appreciated it.
So for me. the night was a resounding success. I had really been needing some metal in my life. Hip Hop is all bitches and bling and bravado. House is all peace and love and hope. I needed some Hell and death and Satan to balance it all out. Mission accomplished.
-     MUNDANE MYSTERIES: HAVE CARROTS WILL TRAVEL
New York City is a wonderful town. If you pay attention, you can always find that something odd is going on somewhere, somehow. These moments, while mundane and incidental at the time, tend to add up to something greater than the sum of their parts, at least in my brain that is.
Two weeks ago, while walking to work on Hester Street, I came across a mysterious item that has had me puzzled and scratching my head furiously ever since. This was on Hester Street, between Bowery and Chrystie. The time was approximately 10:30am. On the South side of the street, the East end of the block is littered with a few Chinese businesses. The West end of the block is now a construction site. This was where that cool old Chinese movie theater was on Bowery and Hester. They tore it down last year and there seems to be nothing but a big hole there right now. Who "they" is in this case I am not quite sure.
I was walking west along the south side, next to the poster-splattered plywood wall surrounding the construction site. About 2/3rds of the way down the block, I came upon the most curious of objects. It was a large brown vinyl suit case. Cheaply made and at least 10 years old. It was sitting on the sidewalk up against the plywood wall. The flap was open. Abandoned luggage is not all of that rare a sight in NYC. However, this suitcase was different. It was filled to the brim with bright orange CARROTS. And not just any carrots, mind you, but gigantic carrots.
I stopped dead in my tracks. A suitcase full of carrots??? WTF??? I quickly did a 360, scanning the perimeter and any visibly windows for hidden cameras. Was this some kind of joke? Nobody else seemed to notice. People continued to walk past me and nobody even glanced at the suitcase. I gave it a little nudge with my foot just to make sure I hadn't imagined the whole thing. Sure enough, it was real.
This was a BIG suit case. The kind of suitcase you could pack for a 3 week vacation and still have room to spare. So I can imagine, given the number and size of those carrots, that this had been considerably heavy when closed.
But it was just so damn BAFFLING!
A) WHY THE FUCK would you carry a giant suitcase full of giant carrots?
B) If you are inclined to be weird enough to carry a suitcase full of giant carrots, HOW ON EARTH do you LOSE the suitcase full of carrots? Did you have several suitcases full of giant carrots and simply misplaced one of them by accident?
It boggles the mind.
I tried to piece together some kind of plausible scenario. This was only half a block from the FUNG WA BUS stop. The Fung Wa bus is that weird Chinese bus that goes to Boston for like $10 or something. I often walk past this very spot and there are always Chinese ladies yelling at me to get on the bus "YOU GO TO BOSTON! HERE! HERE!". Most people getting on and off the bus are carrying luggage of some kind. Did somebody bring a suitcase full of carrots all the way from Boston. Are carrots really that much cheaper in Massachusetts? Was somebody hoping to start a new life in the big city with all the money they made from selling carrots? Maybe they grew up on a quaint country farm that grew carrots. Maybe they were finally leaving home, and just like those movies, when Billy finally leaves his home town, his grandfather reaches in to a cigar box and pulls out his nest egg of $132 and says "go on son, you'll need this more than me where you're goin'..." and then Billy hugs his dear old grandpa, sheds a tear, and runs and stops the bus just as it is pulling away. Like that, except his grandfather didn't give him cash, he gave him this brown suitcase. maybe he told Billy "I put something very special in that suitcase. but Billy...you gotta promise your Grandpa you won't look in there until you get to New York City". So Billy traveled all this way, teeming with excitement about what wonders lay within the suitcase. Was it full of money? Gold bars? Jewels? Would it change his life? Would it be just the thing he needed to make a new start in the city of eight million stories? So he finally gets to New York City. He leaps off of the bus, drags the suitcase halfway down the block so as to get free of the crowd, and he slooowwwllly unzips the cover. "New York City!" he thinks to himself "Just like I pictured it! Skyscrapers and everythang!" But then he peels back the suitcase. "CARROTS!?!?!?" WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!" He curses his crazy old Grandpa. Must have forgotten his meds again. DAMN! Just then, some shady character comes up and says "Hey man, wanna make five bucks? run this across the street for me real quick". He hands Billy a brown paper bag and disappears. Just then cop cars come screeching up. They grab Billy. The brown paper bag is filled with Heroin. "Huh? What? I didn't know! I 'm still fucked up about this god damn case of carrots I've been dragging halfway across the god damned country!" Bu the cops will have none of it. They throw Billy in the car and speed away, leaving the lonely suitcase of gigantic carrots. Hmmm.
I didn't bring a camera. FUCK. And I was late for work. FUCK. As eight million carrot-filled suitcase scenarios raced around my mind, I headed down the block. I immediately called Anne, who works just a few blocks away.
"I just saw the most amazing thing EVER!" I exclaimed "You HAVE to leave work RIGHT NOW and go take a picture of it"
"What the fuck are you talking about?" she said, annoyed.
"OK.....you sitting down?"
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
"OK OK......on Hester street.......just between Chrystie and Bowery.....South side of the street.......there is a suitcase.......it's on the sidewalk........it's brown.........and it's filled to the fucking brim with GIGANTIC CARROTS!!!"
"Carrots? Suitcase? What are you talking about? Carrots? You're not making any sense" She was not amused.
"I'm SAYIN'......there's a suitcase........it's full of carrots.......I didn't have a camera.........you have to borrow a camera from your office and go take a picture RIGHT NOW!"
"Where is this?"
"Right on Hester Street, like 2 blocks from your office! Please please please please please please please go right now and take a photo before it's too late!"
"yeah..uhm...I'll get right on that" she replied snarkily.
"I'm serious!" I pleaded "It's like the coolest thing EVER!"
"Yeah OK. I gotta go. I'll try to check out your carrots when i have a moment"
Anne's tone was most dismissive.
Two hours later, because she loves me, she went to go see the brown vinyl suitcase full of gigantic carrots, but it was gone.
-     MUNDANE MYSTERIES: WHO WANTS CHICKEN?
Recounting the mystery of the carrot suitcase brings to mind an eerily similar encounter I had last year.
I live just east of the corner of Flatbush and Tillary. This is a heavy traffic intersection, as it is somewhat of a crossroads between both the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn bridge, as well as the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. There is constant flow of cars and trucks. In addition, there is a fire station and a police station just down the block, so there is quite often large teams of fire trucks and/or squad cars coming and going.
Despite all that, sometime in the early winter of 2006, somebody managed to deposit a large silver drawer full of RAW CHICKEN right on the corner of Tillary and Flatbush. It was a big metal drawer that looked as though it came from some sort of industrial kitchen cabinet or something. It was brushed stainless steel and undoubtedly heavy by the look of it. Oh and did I mention that it was filled with raw chicken? Like, maybe 15 half chickens. Skinned and completely raw.
A) Who keeps a big metal drawer full of raw chicken? I mean, really.
B) How does one LOSE a big metal drawer of raw chicken? Assuming that carrying around a big metal drawer of raw chicken is not a daily occurrence, wouldn't you notice if you misplaced it?
C) if it was, in fact, their intention to discard this metal drawer full of raw chicken, why would they pick the busiest intersection in all of Brooklyn to do so, instead of the nearest dumpster?
D) and again, WHO THE FUCK keeps a big metal drawer full of raw chicken?
I was dumbfounded.
Everybody who lived in my building, and everybody who walked down the street, just pretended like it wasn't there. The second day after it's appearance, I stood outside for 25 minutes watching people walk past it. Nobody even glanced. I mean, it's not every day that you see a big metal drawer full of raw chicken is it? Seriously.
To make things worse, you can imagine that a metal drawer full of raw chicken exposed to the elements 24/7 is going to take a turn for the worse. Sunshine. Freezing rain. Wind. Heat. Cold. After 10 days it had transformed it to this primordial ooze that was just one big square hunk of raw chicken goo. The shapes of the individual chickens were no longer recognizable. And the smell? Fuggedhabouit.
I found it rather odd that nobody in my building noticed it. You couldn't leave the place without walking right past it. I mentioned it to the elevator guy. Nothing. My next door neighbor. Nothing. There was some stupid petition up in my lobby to stop the city from building a homeless shelter 2 blocks away. Assholes.
I grabbed a Sharpie out of my bag and wrote on the petition "HOMELESS??? WHO THE FUCK CARES?! I AM WAY MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THE METAL DRAWER FULL OF RAW CHICKEN THAT HAS BEEN DECOMPOSING ON THE CORNER FOR TWO FUCKING WEEKS!!!" No response.
Two days later some loser took a wimpy Ballpoint pen and replied "so why don't you clean it up then?" Fucker.
After three weeks, it vanished just as quickly and mysteriously as it had appeared.
Maybe these strange objects appear only to me. Maybe these are all signs pointing me to my true purpose in life. First the cheese puff, then the chicken, then the carrots. What can it all mean? If only a giant rabbit would appear to me in my dreams and explain it all.
-     2/26/07 - LONG TIME NO BLOG
Been a long time since I've blogged. I guess I've been waiting for some good shit to happen to me. maybe I need to go get kidnapped or something. Maybe I need to experiment with exotic drugs and have four ways with European chicks in the bathroom at Crobar. Maybe not.
I haven't DJ'd in forever, due to my right hand being all kinds of fucked up. The Doc says I have "Dequervain's Syndrome". How fucking cool does that sound? As much as I am psyched to finally be able to tell people I have A SYNDROME, it is quite the polar opposite of cool. It's this fucked up condition where the two tendons on your thumb are super tight from using the mouse too damn much. Some little thing that wraps around the tendon is swollen, and basically anytime I do anything with my right hand it feels like somebody just stuck an ice pick in to my wrist. Good times. I got a shot of cortisone, which has helped tremendously. Now I'm wearing this crazy robo-brace as much as I can, which seems to be helping. It's been 2 months. If it doesn't get better, I will need to get surgery, which will suck. Damn computers.
I have about 4 mixtapes buzzing around in my head and will hopefully get to them in the coming weeks if my wrist heals up. I spent most of January recording my entire house music collection to CD, Now if i only had a gig...
I've been getting some calls for work from people who've seen this site, so I feel good about taking the time to do it right and really fill it out with all of my work. Big up Neil Stuber once again for making it all possible.
Other than that, I've just been crazy busy freelancing. Doing some more broadcast work for VH1, which should start airing in May or so. One of them is a heavy metal show, so I've been listening to Metallica's first three albums non stop for the last month. It had been almost 20 years since I was a Metallica freak. I still remember all the words and the air drum solos and everything. Man did they fucking kick ass back in the day. "Ride The Lightning" is like... the PERFECT album. I missed them on their "Kill Em All" tour, when they played this heavy metal dive in Cincinnati called "Annies". I used to have a bootleg of the show that I would listen to for weeks on end. I finally saw them open for Ozzy in 87, and I was one of about 12 people standing up and going crazy. Ozzy's crowd just sat there and booed them. Funny how five year's later they were all on Metallica's dick. Losers. Anyway, I'm having a blast listening to Metallica and drawing skulls and pentagrams until the wee hours. It's like I'm in 10th grade all over again. Sometimes I am truly amazed at how i miraculously managed to turn my adolescent passions for music and drawing in to a viable career. I am definitely counting my blessings.
-     HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS
Christmas with the family. Always a swell time. Many people I know tend to dread the drama of family gatherings, but I have been blessed with a pretty chill group of reasonable folks who enjoy each other's company. Christmas at my house is all about eating big dinners, drinking copious amounts of sherry and port and red wine, long drawn-out political debates at the dinner table, and sitting around the house reading books and magazines while some sort of classical music plays in the background. This year's highlights, in no particular order:
1. My Mom calling Richard Hell a "hater". If you knew my Mom, and Richard Hell, you would understand why this is so fucking funny. We were discussing Daniel Pinchback, an old friend of Richard's who recently appeared as a guest on The Colbert Report. He just released a book, "The Return of Quetzalcoatl", about his drug experiences in South America and his conversion to that whole 2012 Mayan Armageddon cult. Anyway, apparently Richard had run in to him on the street recently, and, much to his amusement, Mr Pinchback was raving about the fact that Sting really liked his book. Richard was laughing at the thought of Sting being a positive endorsement, at which point my Mom blurted out "...Oh Richard, you're just a hater!". You had to be there.
2. My mom describing why it took so long for my Dad to love South Park the way she does. Yes. my parents really do love South Park. This came as a severe shock to me too, since it is about as polar opposite from Masterpiece Theatre as you can get. Nevertheless, they can quote Cartman with the best of them, and my Mom is particularly fond of "Mr Hanky, The Christams Poo". She also related to us that it took my father so long to warm up to the show because he was constantly frustrated by not being able to understand a word the kids said, especially KENNY. The image of my easily frustrated Dad shaking his fist at Kenny on the screen made my whole year. I don't even need a birthday present now.
3. My Dad and I got each other the same book for Christmas - "Imperial Life In the Emerald City" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Actually, the truth is my Dad bought it for himself the day before Christmas. Upon receiving it from me, he promptly threw his copy in a brown paper bag and gave his copy to me. I think we had both seen the author interviewed on the Jon Stewart Show. The book is truly astounding. The myriad of ways the Bush administration botched the initial post-war Iraq is simply mind-blowing. Highly recommended.
4. My Mom's review of the movie MOUSEHUNT - "That mouse was such a good little actor!" This, after she ridiculed an aunt of mine for her review of BABE: PIG IN THE CITY;, of which my Aunt was reported to have said "I can't believe how well they trained that pig to talk!"
-     OLD PEOPLE REALLY ARE MAD AS HELL AND THEY'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE
It has been my lifelong dream to open a bar. It is something that gnaws at the back of my brain from time to time. Every few years I allow it to creep to the forefront, and I seriously consider making it happen. This time around, It just so happens that a good friend of mine revealed to me that he has always had a similar itch. Two fuck-ups are better than one. So he and I have been conspiring for a few weeks and have agreed to at least do some research and figure out if it is even feasible.
I am also fortunate enough to have a few friends who have made a career of the bar business. I have been interrogating them slowly over the last month or so to learn the tricks of the trade, so that we can hit the ground running if and when we do get our shit together and actually make this happen. One thing they all tell me is, before you even pick a location, go to a community board meeting in the neighborhood where you're thinking of opening a place, so you can gauge the level of community hostility you will be dealing with during your liquor license application process, and also simply during your tenure as a bar owner.
I took this advice to heart, and recently attended a community board meeting in Brooklyn to see what's what. It was an eye-opeing experience, to say the least.
I arrived promptly at 6:30 on a snowy Tuesday night. The meeting was held in the lunchroom of a senior citizens home, located deep in the heart of Brooklyn. The room was extremely well lit, filled with long lunchroom tables and folding chairs. The walls were tastefully adorned with oversized drug store valentines and acrylic paintings one can only assume were the work of residents of the home. More valentines and red balloon hearts hung from the ceiling. Puppies with valentines. Pandas with valentines. Gigantic-headed cupids with valentines. In short: festive nursing home chic.
A short Yoda-like man with gigantic glasses sat in the center of a long table at the end of the room. Community board members sat along side him. There was one microphone on the front table, and an additional mic at a podium alongside. There was a small PA set up, and some kind of archaic recording device next to the podium. It looked like something out of Jules Verne, and it was certainly not of this millennium.
Other board members were scattered among us plebes in the audience, which was made up of a wide cross-section of the beloved citizens of Brooklyn: blacks, whites, hispanics, and a few Hassidim - who tended to have a bit of a noble air about them; due, I suppose, to their gigantic crown-like fur hats and their insistence on keeping their big burly coats on, giving them a rather large presence. A few of the board members seemed to be in their 40s & 50s. A handful of people in the crowd were under 40 like me - presumably small business owners. Everybody else seemed well in to retirement.
The Yoda guy with the giant glasses kicked things off soon enough. He read through the evening's agenda. When he read off the list of bars and restaurants seeking license renewal, he made an offhand comment that he hoped the increase of bars and restaurants would slow down a bit in the future, as every block is beginning to smell of booze. This personal digression elicited no response from the crowd.
At this point, the public hearing was to begin. There is no voting by the board during the public hearing. It is simply an opportunity for citizens or officials of some capacity to address the public, a chance for the public to be heard, and a short period of time in which the community can openly discuss pressing issues.
The first item was an old Italian guy who wants a street named after his Dad. He spoke how his father had fought in WW2 and lived in the community for 80 years. His sister also spoke. her name was Rose Marie and she had a gravely Brooklyn accent that made you want to go get a drink with her and listen to her gossip about the neighbors. She insisted her father was a great man. The audience seemed to agree and they politely applauded, and that was that.
Next was an old, nun-shaped woman who wants an intersection named after an elderly woman that also recently passed. This didn't seem very interesting until she informed us that this woman was the very reason they started a Women's Baseball Hall of Fame, and that she had a much fabled career as a professional baseball player during WW2 and throughout the 1950s. At this point Yoda spoke up and gave witness to her claim that the departed could really play ball in her day. The audience clapped even louder.
My mind began to wander and I studied the paintings and valentines on the surrounding walls. There was an amazing painting of an extremely anthropomorphic yellow labrador, and another painting which depicted a single green sock and a teddy bear hanging from a clothesline. Teddy's right arm was considerably longer than his left. It possessed an eerie calm with a slight pinch of hopelessness. Why only one sock? Why the bear? Who could say.
Next up was a city official who was obligated to inform the community of the city's plan to offer up one of the neighborhood's vacant lots to developers for a 265 unit apartment building. Man oh man did she get an earful. Slowly, as she spoke, you could feel a momentum of resentment growing among the elderly in the room. The minute the issue was opened up to the room for discussion, the old folks stood up and just went OFF on this chick.
The gist of their gripe was that the city had not included them in their plans for this lot, and they were really hoping for a senior citizens home to be built there. It was clear that both the board members and the citizens felt very left out of the decision making process. Just about every person demanded more affordable housing for seniors, and in the same breath managed to mention WW2, to great applause. One woman went so far as to say the accommodation and care of seniors is THE most important issue, period. These old people are fucking pissed off, believe me. They also love to clap, and they can't get enough of hearing about WW2. Citizen after outraged citizen stood up and gave this woman a piece of their mind. Many of them declared their intention to block the development. One old guy named Guido was particularly outraged. He looked like he was ready to fight somebody, and I'm pretty sure this guy could still kick my ass. He insisted that he had not fought in WW2 only to come home and have the city allow a vacant lot to be developed without consulting him personally. After all, that is what America is all about.
This went on an on until Yoda finally put a stop to it, and insisted that they take up the discussion later on.
Just as we were about to move on, a gigantic smelly woman sitting near me started semi-ranting about how they should all be signing petitions about this. Her soliloquy culminated in a show-stopping declaration which set the room ablaze:
"YOU SHOULD HAVE THESE FOLKS SIGNING PETITIONS ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW!! CUZ JUST LOOK AT 'EM! THEY AIN'T GON' BE AROUND MUCH LONGER!!!!"
KABOOM!! Chaos ensued. People under 60 erupted in laughter, People over 60 seemed alarmed and outraged. People over 80 were all 'WHAT DID SHE SAY???" It was quite a scene, I can assure you.
After minutes of buzzing outrage, things subsided a bit. Yoda shut the big lady down right quick, and it was time to move on.
Next up was some guy in a taupe suit saying something about kids needing more parks. He was also rambling about environmental issues. Blah blah global warming blah blah reduce emissions blah blah the temperature will be 2 degrees warmer in 20 years blah blah blah. Then out of nowhere he mentioned he was hiring teenage lifeguards for the summer city pools. You must be 16 years of age, be able to swim 50 yards in 35 seconds, and you need to have one eye with 20/30 vision and the other eye with 20/40 vision. Starting salary is $11.75 and hour. Not too shabby for a 16 year old punk with mismatched eyes. For some reason, all I could think of was Kathy Moriarty sunbathing at the city pool in glorious black and white in Raging Bull.
Next up were two separate sequential speakers wearing the exact same shade of burgundy. What are the odds? Each had something of importance to say on completely different subjects, but my mind was wandering again.
There was a large hand-written sign that read "BINGO. ONLY SENIORS ALLOWED TO PLAY BINGO". Why the sign's author felt the need to write the word bingo twice I'll never know. There was another sign behind the main table which read "SHOPPING CARTS ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE DINING ROOM "TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS" ". The last three words were indeed in quotes. Another odd grammatical choice, no doubt by the same guy who made the redundant bingo sign.
An older man came over to where I was sitting and tried to steal my print outs of the night's agenda.
I was like "Uhm....those are mine"
He looked at me with a great deal of suspicion and said "you REALLY gonna take these home with you tonight?" as if he was sure I was not.
"Uhm...yeah, I am".
He stomped off to another table.
At this point I'm about an hour and a half in to the meeting. Good times.
Eventually the public hearing ends, and half the room gets up and leaves. Apparently, if the floor is not open for them to complain, these folks are not too interested in hanging around. But man oh man did they like to gripe. And clap. My father, who is 70 himself, told me "maybe we should call ourselves the GRUMPIEST generation.
Now came the part where the board members actually vote yay or nay on issues at hand.
First yoda talks about a restaurant that wants to reduce the number of outside tables.
A resounding "AY!" from all members.
"The Ays have it. Motion is carried. Next item?"
Finally we get the part where they are voting to renew liquor licenses. They call somebody in the audience up to the podium to deal with the bar and restaurant issues. Out of fucking nowhere steps this big 6 foot 3 Russian linebacker-looking mother fucker in a black sweater with the most AMAZING hair on the planet. He is one part Omar Shareef, one part Hercules, with this giant helmet of thick wavy black hair. On top of that, when he talks, he sounds EXACTLY like Borat. I was shook- like "Whoa! This is the guy who's gonna determine my fate in the bar business!" He could crush me with one finger.
He then proceeds to very nonchalantly read a list of 10 or so bars that are up for renewal. He states matter-of-factly that there are no objections to their renewal.
Yoda thanks him and requests a vote.
"Motion to renew licenses for the businesses in question"
A resounding "AY!" from everybody.
"The Ays have it. Motion is carried. Next item?"
And that was it. It took all of 2 minutes and from what I can tell, bars and restaurants are not even on anybody's radar. It was a complete non-issue. There were no requests for NEW licenses up for a vote, so unfortunately I couldn't learn anything specific about that process. Still, from what I could tell, that is the least of their concerns. Good news I guess.
I hung around for a few more minutes. Some bald guy got up to announce that an old Rabbi had died, mentioning that he had fought the Germans in the Polish army for 4 years before serving as a Rabbi in Greenpoint from 1949 to 2007. I was a bit confused by the Polish thing, because my uneducated self thought Germany's defeat of Poland was almost instantaneous. (Note to self: google Poland/WW2 when you get home). Yoda once again chimed in with his own anecdote about the Rabbi and WW2, about how the Polish army were brave souls who had fought the German tanks on horseback. Crazy bastards.
The discussion turned back to the issue of blocking the development of the vacant lot. I had had enough by this point so I broke out.
I really wanted to try to buy the painting of the dog, but I couldn't figure out who to ask. Maybe next time.
Ever since then I have been thinking about these people and how WW2 is still so present in their every day lives. I mean, this was 50 years ago, but it is clearly still on the tip of their tongue. The defining event for the generation. And what does my generation have that compares? What is our defining moment?
The first thing that comes to mind is MTV. Hmmm. Defeating the evil murderous Nazis and bringing peace and stability to the world VS watching a video for 'Rock Me Amadeus".
Or maybe it is the internet. Happened in my early adulthood, and it certainly has changed the world.
Or will it be terrorism. Will 9/11 and the ever-growing list of terrorist acts end up being what defines my generation's experience on the planet. Ugh. I need a drink. Maybe I should open that bar.
-     REST IN PEACE DISCO D
I was surfing the web when I came across a post on a DJ message board saying that Dave Shayman had killed himself. I gasped. I hadn't spoken to him in over six months. I immediately called my boy Alex and the shocking news was confirmed.
Dave and I worked together for over a year at EyeballNYC. He was actually working with Alex and Expansion Team, but they shared our office space, so he was always around. We bonded on our love of DJing and good music. At the time he was still playing mostly Detroit ghetto tech, but his knowledge of music was impressive. He was super friendly and always smiling A total joker and always fun to be around.
After he left Expansion team, he hooked up with another friend of mine, Max Glazer. Max and I know each other from the On the Go days, before he blew up as the next Bobby Konders (white reggae DJ) with his partner and mixtape don Cypher Sounds. Dave started producing dancehall tracks and engineering hits like Nina Sky's "Move Your Body". His big break, or so he thought, was doing a track on 50's last album - "Ski Mask Way". This got him a lot of press and a deal with K-FED to produce his album. Yes, KFED. He was also really into Brazilian hip hop, and was spending a lot of time down there, where he worked with some local talent and even met a Brazilian playboy model, whom he was engaged to for a short time. Sadly, we all know what happened with KFED and the now infamous "Po Po Zao". That must have been a tough pill to swallow.
We rarely talked in recent years, but I would run in to him occasionally at Expansion Team events. We spoke about doing a DJ action figure line, but I was a bit skeptical, since he wanted to kick it off with a launch of his own doll rather, than somebody already famous like Funkmaster Flex. But Dave was that guy. Never doubting himself. Always uber confident in his own success. And it took him very far too.
It appears that his bi-polar condition and the stress of every day life finally got the better of him. This makes me incredibly sad, but if his life had become that unbearable, then perhaps that is what was meant to be. He will be sorely missed. RIP.
-     12/16/06 - IF I HAD KNOWN STAR TREK WAS ON A 4 TIMES A DAY I WOULD HAVE QUIT MY JOB YEARS AGO
Seriously, what better way to spend an entire day in your underwear? That said, the first couple of seasons of TNG suck ass. Tasha Yar needs to get kicked in the face, pronto. She did make the Trekkie movies, which is somewhat redeeming I suppose, though any time she is on camera, I want to kick her in the face. If you are a Tash Yar fan, please kick yourself in the face too. Then Email me a photo of you, pre-kick and post-kick.
-     MY CONVERSATION WITH THE LUNCH LADIES
This past Thanksgiving I had the odd experience of visiting a high school. I went to Buffalo to visit Anne's family and her Mom asked that we speak to her art classes about being "professional artists". Ugh. It was pretty painless, despite operating on only 2 hours of sleep due to our 8am flight - which meant getting to JFK at 6, which meant getting up at 5, and we didn't pack until 2am, yadda yadda yadda. The kids didn't have much to say, but they pretty much never do at that age. I was the same way from what I recall.
Just physically being in a high school was weird enough in itself. I am one of those people who is still haunted by dreams of being back in high school and it's exam day and I skipped the whole semester and now I'll never graduate. I would assume such dreams are just a metaphor for current insecurities, but man do these dreams suck. At least they always finish with a huge sigh of awakened relief, being thankful for the fact that I will never have to take a test again as long as I live.
By far the best part of the visit was our lunch, which took place in the elusive and mysterious teachers' lounge, a place few students have dared to tread since the very invention of teachers' lounges. I, for one, always pictured them as drab, smoke-filled rooms lined with ugly olive green couches, filled with bitter cantankerous teachers complaining about the hellions in their charge. This teachers' lounge was simply a plain empty room adjacent to the lunch room, with 2 lunchroom tables in the center. No ashtrays in sight.
There were also no other teachers present. However, we were joined by two of the lunch ladies. These lunch ladies looked...well...they looked exactly like lunch ladies. There must be some lunch lady mold somewhere, because all of them seem to have the same weeble-esque build, the same glasses, the hairnet, the same apron, etc These two were no exception. They were very pleasant, and I immediately struck up a conversation, which I have edited below.
Lunchlady #1: So, you guys are from New York City, huh? That must be fun.
Me: Yeah, it's a great place to live.
LL#1: You must have lots and lots of friends too. You must run in to people from all over there, huh?
Me: Yeah, I guess. It's a big place.
LL#1: Yeah my son used to live there. He was constantly running in to people he knew from everywhere. He had tons of friends. That was before he got shot. But he just knew everybody.
Me: Did you say he got shot?
LL#1: Yes, he was shot point blank in the chest for no reason at all. He's fine now, though, so it's no big deal.
Me; Wow. He sounds lucky to be alive. You must be grateful.
LL#1: Oh, he's fine. Still, he just knew tons of people down there. You know what they say...the sixth degree theory. Do you know about the sixth degree theory?
Me: Yeah I'm pretty sure I know what you're talking about.
LL#1: The sixth degree theory tells us that every sixth person you meet you will have a connection with.
LunchLady #2: Yeah I've heard of that.
Me: Uhm...actually...if you're talking about six degrees of separation, my understanding is that it is basically saying that between you and any person on the planet, there are a maximum number of six people who know each other which connect you to that random person, by association.
LL#1: No. It's every sixth person you meet, you have a spiritual connection with.
LL#1: Do you also know about the hundredth monkey theory?
Me: Do tell!
LL#1: The hundredth monkey theory is that if you give a hundred monkeys a task to do, ninety-nine of them will do it wrong, but the hundredth will do it right, so we have to find that hundredth monkey, and follow him.
Me: Hmmm. Interesting theory.
LL#2: That makes sense to me.
Me: Hundredth monkey. Sure. Makes perfect sense.
LL#1: So the thing is to find these special monkeys, and follow them.
At this point Lunch Lady #1 exits, and we are left with only Lunchlady #2.
LL#2: So, I hear you do cartoons on TV?
Me: Well, not really, I do animation for television. It's kind of like cartoons.
LL#2: Yes. Cartoons. I love cartoons.
Me: Uhm...yeah. Cartoons are great.
LL#2: Sometimes I see cartoons just in every day life. Like, just then, when she (LL#1) was speaking, I looked at her, and for a split second, I saw a cartoon.
Me: you SEE cartoons. Like now, in this room?
LL#2: Oh sure. Do YOU see cartoons?
Me: Uhm...no...can't say that I do.
LL#2: Why do you think I see cartoons?
LL#2: What is it that you cartoon guys are doing to me that makes me see cartoons?
I didn't want to be rude, so I made up an answer.
Me: Well, cartoons are usually made up of anywhere from twelve to thirty frames per second. Sometimes cartoonist throw in a single frame, something weird, just as an inside joke to their friends. They are hard for the human eye to see, but your subconscious can register them. Perhaps you are seeing some of these hidden frames after you watch cartoons.
LL#2: Is that right? I knew it was something. And people think I'M crazy!
-     NEW MIX OF MINE NOW UPLOADED AT DJsANONYMOUS.ORG
My boy Alex Moulton put up this site a few months back. Alex is the President and Creative Director of EXPANSION TEAM, a cool collection of DJs and music producers that create music for television. He is also a DJ himself, as well as being a director and editor and excellent lover of women. A renaissance man if there ever was one. On this particular website, Alex is simply taking good DJ mixes and posting them online, with a tiny bit of info about the DJ and a link to their site. He's been getting tons of hits, and tons of mixes from DJs around the world. Musical genres range all over the place, but so far all of them have been pretty cool.
My mix ("Wicky Wacky") was one of the first mixes he posted. I recently made another one for him ("Brainfreeze") that is pretty different from any other mix on my site. It's a collection of a bunch of weird records that I have been accumulating over the past year. Some mid-tempo house stuff. Some electro/dirty-disco type stuff. Some borderline techno stuff. Basically, records that just didn't seem to fit on any of the deep house mixes I often make. Here's the playlist:
Alif Tree - Forgotten PLaces (Felix Laband remix)
Lindstrom and Prins Thomas - Valerenga Blues And Disco Combo-Ballerina
Idjut Boys featuring Rune Lindbaek - Laisn (Kalabrese Remix)
Franz Ferdinand - Outsiders (Isolee remix)
Dirty 30 - Rip It Off
Lindstrom and Christabelle - Music In My Mind (DJ Harvey remix)
Mr. Fingers - Mysteries of Love (dub)
Popular Computer - I Can't Forget You
Gorillaz - Dare (DFA Remix)
Justin Martin - Cicada (Pedro DeLaFaydro birth mix)
Chicken Lips - White Dwarf (Juan Maclean remix)
Carl Craig - Brainfreeze
Satoshie Tomiie - Glow
Here's the link:
-     LIST OF THINGS THAT REALLY BUG ME
The following is a list of things, in no particular order, that bug the shit out of me. These things bug me to such an extent that I think I might be losing it:
TVs in bars that are unknowingly just sitting idle on some DVD menu page for what seems like hours. This is often right after the bartender put the DVD in. How can you make a conscious decision to play a DVD, then fail to notice that it never even began playing? How do you even get dressed in the morning with an attention span that limited?
TRASHCANS WITH FEET
Little trashcans with foot-pedals that open them. I never know how hard to step, so I end up doing this really tenuous gradual pressing, to minimize the dreaded "lid-snap-back" of an over-zealous stepping. Can't we get some standards here?
THOSE CONFOUNDED PLUGS AND WALL SOCKETS
Whenever I insert a plug in to a wall-socket, it is invariably the wrong rotation, so that the fat prong is going in the smaller hole. Sure, I could examine the plug and socket thoroughly before I insert, but it's 2006, who the hell has time for that? Plus, I figure I have a 50/50 shot, right? Yet, I swear my lifetime record at sticking a plug in to a wall on the first try is at about 15%. This goes down under the paranoid delusional "why me, Vishnu" category.
PUDDLES DE MUERTE
That little ice cold puddle of stagnant water that sits on the lid of the shampoo. How on earth does it get so cold? And why aren't all lids made slightly convex to avoid such nasty chilling pools of liquid death?
When you all of a sudden, for no reason whatsoever, get a little cut on the end of your tongue. How in the hell does this happen anway? I blame organized religion.
FIT DEEZ NUTZ
Whilst putting a fitted bottom sheet on a mattress, I invariably choose the wrong end, even when I go against my visual instincts, it's still ALWAYS wrong. Shouldn't somebody mark these things? Like when your mom wrote a big L and R on your shoes. Yeah, just like that.
IT'S RAINING CRUMBS, HALLELUJAH
When waiters put a basket of bread on the table but no little dish for you to put the bread in and/or eat the bread over. So you slap some butter on the roll, then take a big bite, and an avalanche of crumbs explodes on to the table directly in front of you, making you look like some kind of crumbum slob. You only have three options:
1) sweep the crumbs on to the floor, incurring looks of disgust from nearby diners
2) Sweep the crumbs on to the napkin in your lap, getting you covered in crumbs
3) Sweep the crumbs in to your hand, and dump them back in the bread basket, preferably beneath the remaining as-yet-uneaten rolls.
Either way, I feel like I am somehow doing the waiter’s job, and a small dish would avoid this entire incident. That’s right, I called it an incident.
GOTH OR NO GOTH, YOUR TASTE IN MOVIES SUCKS ASS
People who really like the movie THE CROW, and dress up as that stupid loser every Halloween.
Get over it.
That movie is gay.
I HAVE GLASS SHINS
Whenever I walk between two parked cars, I have an irrational fear of one of the cars lurching forward/backward in to the other, smashing my shins to smithereens. So much so that I am considering taking a running start and executing large ballet-esque leaps over the chasm to avoid potential catastrophe.
TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD...
People who put the toilet paper on upside down. Does this really need to be explained? An upside down roll of TP has the end of the TP hanging off the back of the roll. A correctly installed roll of TP has the end hanging off the front of the roll.
Not only does the latter put the end closer to the user, but it also avoids unnecessary unraveling of the roll. One can jerk on a correctly installed roll of TP and control the amount of unfurling TP, stopping the rotation of the roll precisely at the moment the desired amount of TP has accumulated in one's hand. Yet, a jerk on an improperly installed roll will result in a long, cascading stream of wildly-out-of-control TP, reaching down to the floor and beyond, all before the user can stop it. This is common sense here, people.
DEATH TO ALL TOOTHBRUSH ENGINEERS
The people at the toothbrush factory that make these space-agey sci-fi-lookin' toothbrushes that don't fit in to the ceramic toothbrush holder already installed in your bathroom. This shit isn't cute, people. If we were supposed to stop using the ceramic toothbrush holders, nobody ever sent me the memo. Would we let McDonald's get away with redesigning a cup that didn't fit in to your car's cup-holder? Think about it.
TAILS BE DAMNED
Restaurants chefs, and all cooks for that matter, who feel compelled to leave the tails of shrimp on, requiring the eater to either soil his/her hands in the removal process, or annoyingly manipulate knife and fork for the same result. It's 2006 for the love of God. We are not idiots. We know it's shrimp. We don't need the tails left on to prove it to us. For the love of criminy, let's move forward, shall we?
PANTALONES NO TRABAJAR
Pants that have pockets that completely empty out the minute you sit down. Who is the fashion genius that came up with these, and what is their appropriate punishment in Hell? Women don’t seem to use pockets, so this doesn’t apply to their pants. As for the rest of us: we are men. We don’t carry a purse. We NEED pockets. And usually we do not like to lose things like house keys and cell phones and wallets. Don’t pants factories have yellow pants testing dummies that are sitting up and down all day? When I am president, they sure as hell will.
THE GREAT SHOE CONSPIRACY
And last but not least: Only my right shoe ever comes untied. What does this mean?
-     11/28/06 - MEXICAN WEDDINGS KICK ASS
Been traveling a bit too much as of late. First Jamaica for the bachelor party, then Mexico two weeks later for the follow-up wedding, then exotic Buffalo, New York for Thanksgiving. It's been wonderful and I am truly lucky to have the time to travel, but I am sick to death of airplane food and people disturbing my nap to give me a packet of pretzels (Gee thanks, scary lady!).
The wedding was mad fun. Easy and low-key. Great weather. Great crowd. Tear-jerking, insanely eloquent declarations of love from the bride and groom.
The Uruguayan/Australian/American/British wedding was a nice culture clash that included a Mariachi band and a traditional Jewish Hora dance in which both the bride and groom were almost decapitated by low-hanging ceiling fans. Serge caught a speed knot on his shaved head, but luckily there was only minimal blood loss.
Burning Man/Oprah veteran Courtney Martin introduced us all to the world of adult, un-ironic hoola-hooping (who knew?). I made a CD for the wedding which went over well (listen to it in the music section). Somehow "Sexy Back" came on right as the hoola-hoop contest was jumping off, so I felt like I had done something right. And if you hate on JT I simply got no time for you. As overplayed as that track has become, it is a fucking dancefloor wonder.
Copious amounts of Don Julio tequila with sangrita chaser were consumed. Stupidly fantatsic fish tacos. Oceans of guacamole. Local schwag. When in Rome...
And finally, NY taco tycoon Jesse Vendley learned that, lo and behold, there is, in fact, a downside to getting a huge, albeit temporary, henna tattoo of a bloated skull and crossbones on your neck.
-     HIP HOP NON STOP COLLECTING GHETTO PROPS
The site has gotten a few lil' mentions on some other blogs, which is mad cool and embarassingly exciting for a newbie blogger like myself. I am just now digging in to the whole blogging thing and beginning to navigate the waters. I have a feeling bragging about your own site getting mentioned may be totally lame, but fuck it - I'm like Sally Field up in this piece.
A very no-bullshit blog from a fellow Brooklyn DJ/Producer that keeps it short and sweet and to the point. Lots of info on where to catch this dude spinning, plus mad links and some real in-the-know 411 about underground releases and downloads. Hotness.
This cat was kind enough to recommend my "Dubtitled Mixtape". It's probably my mostest favoritest of all my hip hop mixtapes, so I am glad to hear peeps are feeling it. 33Jones is a hop hop culture blog that gets deep, very deep, with mad info, industry news, gossip, drama, links, and some hilarious commentary. The recording of a Bklyn cat Star69-ing his girl's man on the side had me trippin' like Missy and Total.
HURT YOU BAD
This dude bigged up the old On The Go Comics. This site is currently under-reconstruction from what I can tell, so I don't really know how they get down just yet. Keep checking for the re-up in a few.
THAT GOOD GOOD
And last but mos definitely not least is my man my mellow, my brother from another mother, my main shit stain: RIO VALLEDOR and his blog THAT GOOD GOOD. Rio is one of my oldest friends in NY. We went to Pratt together and were awkward members of the "handful of white dudes down with Hip Hop" club. Almost hard to imagine such a club ever had an exclusive membership, but this was 1987 and the dam hadn't broken yet.
Aside from his architectural hand/mind/space skillz, he is a fellow On The Go alum and one of my favorite writers of the non-graffiti kind. This kid put the SH in SHTYLE. He's Hip Hop's answer to James Joyce, putting layer upon layer of reference, double entendre, and nudge nudge/wink wink/feel me dog type puzzles in every sentence. Break out the Moet, listen to the poet, and peep his blog.
-     BREAKING NEWS: VINTAGE MR. MAGIC TAPE UPLOADED TO THE MUSIC SECTION
The mixes page has been getting good response from my Shelter and DHP family, as well as my crusty crew of close friends.
I uploaded one old Mr Magic mix this week that I recorded off of WBLS in May of 88. I was apparently trying to edit out the commercials on the fly, an old habit I now deeply regret, so the transitions between tracks can be a bit abrupt. Nevertheless, I still like to hear how raw some of that shit sounds.
-     GET OUT OF MY DREAMS, GET IN TO MY CAR
3 weeks ago I had a dream about my old friend Jules Gayton, who I had not seen or spoken to in almost 5 years. Jules was one of the people who really put me on as a DJ in the downtown scene. We did a hip hop party together at Don Hills for over 5 years. In the dream, he was DJing at a Denny's, wearing a suit and playing on some really old sci-fi-looking DJ console that had one big oversized dial in the middle which he used as a cross-fader. I awoke in the morning and decided, enough is enough, I simply must track his ass down. Surely the internet could aid me in such a quest. This took all of 30 seconds, so after kicking myself for waiting 5 years to do this, I promptly Emailed him.
He promptly called me back later that day from some beach in Hawaii and we caught up on what was what and who married who. He had peeped my site, and he was particularly amused by my mention of him in my story of how I became a DJ. He graciously requested that I change the line "Jules had great taste in music" to "Jules HAS great taste in music", as it sounded like he was dead the way I wrote it. Fair enough.
Jules moved to Hawaii in 2001 and opened up a store called Leilow, which specializes in all things rare and cool that you want. Jules has always possessed the most refined of tastes, not only in music, but also rare sneakers and vintage furniture and skateboards and digital watches and bizarre Japanese clothing and god knows what else. His apartment in NY was like a freakin' museum. Just about everything you think is cool and underground, he was up on 5 or 10 years before you. Trust me on this. Dude used to play Jet Li movies at hip hop parties in 1991 when everybody was like Jet WHO? Every hip hop party that plays a kung fu video should send this kid a check. He's the kind of dude who was buying P-funk albums when he was 10 while you were still sweating Sesame Street characters. Anyway, his store seems like it's pretty dope and fair representation of all the shit he's been into his whole life. Go check it out and buy something now so you can tell everybody you were shopping at this store 5 years before everybody and their moms.
-     THE GREATEST EXAMPLE OF CORPORATE DOUCHEBAGERY THAT YOU MAY EVER WITNESS
I was going to simply post a link to this in the linkz section, but the lyrics below are just too awesome to remain overlooked.
In case you missed it, A few weeks back, this Youtube video was making the rounds. Bank of America did a corporate merger thingy with another bank, MBNA. At the meeting to celebrate the merger, they had two Jedi-level douchebags perform a rendition of U2's "One" with altered lyrics to reflect the corporate merger.
Perhaps you need to have interacted with such corporate douchebags to really appreciate this, but for my money, it rules. It rules on so many levels, I hardly know where to begin. Here are the lyrics, sung to the tune of U2's "One":
It is even better
Now that we're the same
Two great companies come together
Now, MBNA is B of A
And it's one bank
One name that's known all over the world
We get to share it
Leading us all to higher standards
Do you like the cowboys?
Or your university?
Do you like the Yankees?
Or is NASCAR more your speed?
Well it's your choice
To pick a card that shows
Your heart and your pride
We're one with affinity
And we'll carry each other
Carry each other
Have you come to meet Bruce Hammonds
Have you come to meet Leah McGee
Have you heard about Michelle Shepherd
She's leading the team in the Northeast
And we've got Bank One on the run
What's in your wallet? It's not Capital One
It's us, so which card are you?
Integration's never had us feeling so good
And we'll make lots of money, forever I can sing
About trusting in teamwork and doing the right thing
We'll live out our core values
While the competition crawls
'cause they want what we have got
But it's only here at Bank of America
One name that's known all over the world
One heart , filled with spirit
We feel it, we share it
One bank working everyday
To bring higher standards
We are one, yeah
We are one
We are one bank
(BTW, this received a standing ovation and NOBODY laughed. WTF?)
Here is the link to the Yoube video.
PEEP THE VIDEO
-     DO BIRDS DREAM OF HIDING DEAD BODIES?
The suburbs. Is there anything worse? Strip malls. Chain restaurants. Housing developments. Manicured lawns. Cookie-cutter houses on barren streets. They seem specifically designed to suck the soul dry and deliver the very least possible amount of visual and cultural stimulus required to sustain human life, stringing us along with a slow-drip I.V. of Chi-Chi's and Olive Gardens for another year, year after year, until our imminent death.
But I suppose they do serve a purpose (raising your 2.3 kids/having a lawn to mow/a place to park your 5 cars/etc etc), and god forbid I may just find myself there one day, foot firmly in mouth, bitching at my neighbor that he is painting his house a color not approved by the block association. However, until that fateful day, I feel pretty good about my citified superiority, smugly dismissing the suburbs as soul-sucking limbos of the uninspired.
So this past Thanksgiving I got my yearly 4-day pass to enter in to these strange lands to visit Anne's family. We did a lot of driving, as living in the suburbs requires this. This being suburban Buffalo, New York, things are fairly spread out. Lots of flat sections of woods and ponds that separate the various strip malls and housing developments.
(*Disclaimer: this blog entry is by no means meant to disparage the suburbs of the great city of Buffalo New York specifically. Nor is it by any means meant to disparage the wonderful turkey dinner and family fun I experienced at Anne's Mom's house. I am speaking generally about all suburbs here. Don't get it twisted).
During our daily drives between the condo and the video store and the condo and the movie theatre and the condo and the gas station, two thoughts kept recurring in my head:
1) Man, that looks like a good place to hide a dead body.
2) Those birds that just sit on telephone wires all day...WTF are they thinking about?
The dead body thing has been with me all my life, though it's earlier incarnation took a slightly less morbid form. I can remember riding a yellow bus to school and fixating on places that I would pass by every day on the bus route. I would become obsessed with these specific places that I felt like, due to their lack of foot traffic, nobody would ever go. Dense clumps of trees and shrubs off of the expressway. Empty spaces between buildings which nobody would ever have any need to visit.
I would try to imagine what it would be like to be standing there, hidden in the brush, watching my bus go by. I would imagine running away from home and escaping to these overlooked patches of existence.
When I got old enough to get a bike and explore areas beyond my own hood, I tried to track down some of these spots and explore them first hand. As you can imagine, the experience was always extremely underwhelming, though it did provide an odd sense of closure that my 11 year old brain seemed to crave.
Later in life, these types of places ceased to be possible hideouts in my mind. More and more, I would see them and think to myself "You could dump a dead body there and nobody would find it for years". This is indeed a rather line of thinking that I can only surmise to be the result of watching WAY too much TV. Specifically crime dramas like Law and Order and whatnot. Am I the only person who thinks like this?
The other thing was the damn birds.
Every day, as we would rive along the highway, I would see hundreds, maybe thousands of birds, just chilling on the long power lines that stretch from tower to tower. They were not coming and going, they were stationary. Quietly observing. unmoved by the wind. And I just kept wondering "what do birds think about when they are doing nothing at all?"
Perhaps if I knew more about birds I would never ask such a stupid question. They can't be sleeping. can they? Can birds balance 300 feet up on a thin wire and just go to sleep? No way. So they are conscious. Yet they are doing absolutely nothing. Just sort of waiting around until one of them decides to get up and leave and then the rest of the gang follows cuz that 's just kind of what birds do, right? I'm sure there is a bit more rhyme and reason to it all than just that, but it beats the hell out of me. You can see why I was never any kind of scientist.
So while they're sitting there watching cars go by, they HAVE to be thinking about something, don't they? With brains that tiny, I can't imagine birds are doing much deep contemplative thinking. No meaning of life or afterlife for them. I also can't imagine that they are even planning their next meal, or looking forward to the bird bath over in Logan park or whatever. Maybe they can only remember the last 5 minutes of their life (or is that fish?). Maybe the only thing they can remember is the last worm they ate. So they sit there on the wire (making sure their friends haven't gotten up and left) while they think about that last tasty worm.
"Worm was good. worm was good. hunger gone. worm was good"
Almost like a mantra. Maybe it's this mantra that keeps them sitting there doing nothing. Each bird is meditating with his own worm mantra until all of a sudden one of them has a revelation born of recent experience and/or a millennia's worth of inbred instincts:
"FLY NOW! MUST GO! GREY HAIRED HUMAN WITH BREAD CRUMBS IN PARK! FOLLOW ME!"
Then they all take off and go about their day being birds while the rest of us suckers try to get to Blockbuster before the last copy of Antonio Banderas' "Take The Lead" is gone.
-     THE TIME I WAS MISTAKEN FOR BEING A DRUG KINGPIN
If you by chance happened to read the long bio posted on this site entitled "The very long story of how I became a DJ", you know that I was the DJ in an unsigned underground hip hop group for a brief period in the early 90s called Trigga Happy. We came together at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and spent a year or two recording demos, doing a few shows, and trying to get a deal. The following story recounts one of our most memorable gigs. Actually the gig never even happened, as you will see, but it's still a funny story to me.
It was the summer of 1991. Trigga Happy had been in the lab on and off for about a year, making tracks on the most bullshit sampler known to man and using the 4-track cassette recorder that Pratt's radio station owned to sequence. We were eager to do more shows to see how the tracks would be received but we had little to no juice at the time. As luck would have it, Kas had a friend named Hakim from Bed Stuy. I knew him from parties around the way. He had a rep as a dancer and also had some mic skills. He had his own Hip Hop group too, though I can't for the life of me remember what they were called. He told Kas about a gig that we could do with him for The New York City Parks Department.
The Parks Department had this summer concert series where they would put on music events in the worst most dilapidated parks in the city as a way of revitalizing them. The city would provide a real sound system and promote the event. They would even pay the artists, no matter how no-name you were. So Hakim told Kas they were gonna pay us $600 to perform with a bunch of other underground groups at Bushwick Park on a Saturday afternoon three weeks . We jumped at the opportunity and quickly put together a set that we rehearsed for weeks.
All of us went down to Albee Square Mall the day before the gig to get brand new gear for the show. Crispy new baseball hats. A pair of high top Lottos. Kas and Germ got some new gold fronts. Kas got a brand new shiny gold rope. I got myself a disgustingly colorful, vertically-striped Karl Kani ensemble - baggy shorts that hung well below the knee and a matching baggy baseball jersey. Brand new pair of Timberlands too. New Colt 45s negro league hat. Fresh dipped from head to toe, as was the style of the day.
The day of the show, we met up with Hakim and the rest of the groups on Myrtle Avenue. Hakim's crew was there. DJ Spinna and his group the Jigmastas too. We all grabbed car services from the street and followed Hakim to the location.
We arrive at Bushwick Park, which was a large, run-down concrete and asphalt area attached to Bushwick High School. Tall trees lined the main walkway, which was flanked by basketball courts and dilapidated playgrounds. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday and the park was filled with neighborhood locals, just about all of whom were Puerto Rican and Dominican. Lots of homeless people on the park benches in the middle. Lots of mothers pushing strollers. People playing ball. A typical summer day in the park. We knew nobody there, except for one guy that Kelly told me he recognized from playing ball together a few times at West 4th Street.
There was a large stage already set up in an open asphalt area, but for some reason, there was no sound system. The only person there from the city was a freelance photographer, who had been hired to take photos of the show for the parks department. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but a bit out of place in a neighborhood that most people would refer to as "the ghetto".
The photographer informed us that the people who were doing sound for the city were running late and that we should just have a seat and wait. There was about 20 of us, all told. We put down our gear and took a seat on the benches that lined the outer rim of the park fence along the sidwalk. The benches faced inwards, and they were near the entrance.
So were sitting there just waiting. No sound system. Just waiting. And it's getting pretty damn hot out. Then we keep noticing something strange. everybody in the park is staring at us. And not just staring at us in a subtle way, but kinda staring us down. I thought I was just being paranoid, but we all started to notice it. We had been there maybe a half hour by this point. Just sitting there bullshitting amongst ourselves waiting for the city to show up with the gear, so we could get the show on the road. The photographer busied himslef walking around the park taking photos of people.
Then, one at a time, dudes start coming up to the benches and doing this weird slow stroll past us, staring each of us down, not saying a word. We were all looking at each other like "WTF?". These were soon followed by all these young women, many of them pushing strollers, who started coming by and saying "so which one of y'all got the jungle fever?" A few of us would smile and try to talk to these women, but they seemed edgy and a bit anxious. And they just kept repeating "Who got the jungle fever?" over and over again. This was the summer that Spike Lee had released Jungle Fever, so the term was very much in the NYC vernacular. And all of these women being hispanic and all of us being black* (*except yours truly - LOL), we just figured these chicks were trying to mack on some brothers. Yet they didn't seem interested in hanging out to chat. They would scurry off just as quickly as they had appeared.
The whole situation was just getting weirder. There was a big group of guys on the basketball court who kept looking over at us and talking amongst themselves. We couldn't hear what they were saying, but it was becoming obvious that, for some reason, we were perhaps not that welcome in Bushwick Park. We all kept looking at each other and just laughing, because we could not figure out what was going on.
Finally, after about an hour of us sitting there getting shade from the men and weird propositions from the neighborhood mothers, the dude that Kelly knew from the basketball court marches over. He had a grim look on his face. He stopped directly in front of the benches and made a loud declaration to us all.
"I don't know what the fuck you think y'all trying to pull today, coming in here like you taking over shit or something, but that shit ain't happenin'! And see those fellas on the court? Half them cats is strapped. And in about 1 minute... they gon' come over hear and rob all y'all asses. Fo real! And homey with the camera? Well they just gon' shoot him, straight up! Only reason I'm tellin' you this is cuz I know your boy from West 4th street. Otherwise y'all might already be dead!"
Kelly tried to explain the situation with the show, and the parks department, but this dude wasn't trying to hear any of it. He just said "Whatever duke. Consider yourselves warned" and walked off.
Suddenly it all made sense.
Everybody in the whole park thought we were a new drug GANG, who had come to literally take over all of the drug business in the park, and "jungle fever" was the brand of heroin they were selling that week. And I could sort of see why we gave that impression. Here we were, a bunch of brothers*, clearly out of place in this neighborhood, coming in to their park all dipped with new kicks and new gold fronts and big fat shiny gold ropes, acting like a bunch of players. This is why all the women started coming over to us looking to cop, because we looked like the real deal. Like pros, not the bummy local dealers. And this is why everybody was ice-grilling us the whole time. trying to see if we would flinch. Our indifference to their presence must have just seemed like adding insult to injury.
We had two options, stay and beef with the entire park, or be out. My boy Kas was like "Fuck dem niggas, I'm stayin'!", but after a bit of debate we convinced him that it just wasn't worth it. We grabbed the photographer and told him he had better skee-daddle before he caught a bullet. He was gone before we even finished explaining.
The rest of us picked up our gear and made our way toward the exit. We all thought it was so funny that we were seen as this feared drug gang, so we kinda hammed it up a bit, taking our time and putting some extra slowness in our roll. Shit was mad funny. We had all taken cabs there, and nobody knew the neighborhood, so our new problem was: we had to find the subway. So we just started walking through the neighborhood. Empowered by our new gang status, we walked in the middle of the street like the freakin' Warriors and we took our own sweet time. Never did see that $600 check from the city. Fuckers.
-     11/14/06 - OK COOL I FINALLY HAVE A WEBSITE. NOW WHAT?
It's been two weeks since the launch of the site. So far, so good, I guess. I've gotten some great responses from the people in the world I care most about, so that has been pretty satisfying. And the potential clients I have sent it to seem to "get it" - also good.
A few people I haven't heard from in like, forever, got back in touch, which is always nice (Big BK shout out to Steve Kinney!).
I was surprised and humbled to hear from more than a few people that my post 9/11 letter actually made some folks cry. I guess that's a compliment. I felt very self-indulgent posting it here to begin with, but it just struck a chord with me. I only recently discovered it myself when I was cleaning out my old laptop before I reformatted the drive. It just seemed to capture where my head was at back then, and there was something about that I wanted to preserve. And who am I kidding? This whole site is self-indulgent by definition, so why not...
I have received a bit of constructive criticism on the user/functionality side of things. Apparently a lot of people can't find the music. I can't quite figure out what is so secret about it, but I added a line of copy above the genre links that will hopefully illuminate the search a bit.
The three most common responses have been:
1) I thought it would have more pictures
2) It's really dense
3) You should add some color
My answers to these have been:
1) Uhm, it does, you just gotta click stuff
2) Yes. Yes it is.
3) No, I shouldn't.
The greatest reaction by far has been from my parents. They live out in the country, and they somehow subsist on a 28K dial-up like it is 1950 or something. Surfing the web at their house is like watching grass grow. So a site with such a heavy load as this has proven to be quite a problem.
I've been communicating with my Mom via Email, and she has said some of the funniest shit, EVER.
I have to hand it to her, because she and my Dad have been making a serious effort just to look at my site. I had no idea it could ever be so difficult.
First she told me that since it was taking so long to load, she and my father would just wait until the next time they came in to town to look at it. Is that the craziest shit you've ever heard or what? Having to wait until your next vacation to look at a website. This was so funny, but it also made me feel kinda bad, because it was obvious that they were really curious and wanted to check it out.
Then she told me that they had decided to drive in to the nearest town and check it out at cyber cafe or some place. Progress, I suppose. I think this went OK, but then they discovered that the gray the on black proved impossible to read at their age (who knew?). Not to be thwarted, my Dad came up with some crazy work around, like saving the pages as an image, then inverting them in some other software, then printing them out to read. Now I really felt bad.
Then my Mom told me that the bitmap font I used was annoying, because it seemed like the page was never loading because the font never became smooth. Sheesh.
I probably shouldn't post things about my parents here, but then again they won't even read this until Easter, so whatever.
-     TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG
I am kicking myself for calling this section a "blog". A blog feels like it should be updated every damn day, and that simply ain't gonna happen. Also, bloggers seem to write about what they had for lunch and shit, which just ain't my style. I am going for quality here, people, not quantity. My hope is that I can add some new writing every 2 weeks and see if I can keep pace with that.
Maybe I should change the name from blog to something else. Is there some internet nerd term for a blog that is less frequently updated? I was originally gonna call it "musings", but that sounded confusing, and maybe kinda gay too. So, fuck it. Blog - it remains. For now.
-     BREAKING NEWS: I ADDED 6 NEW MIXES THIS WEEK
I added 6 mixes this week. 3 brand new mixes and 3 older joints.
MUSIC FOR NIGHT DRIVING 2 is exactly what it sounds like, a similar mix to the first volume. Mostly instrumental house. Some techy stuff. Some dubby stuff. Some deep stuff. Tunes that tend to be a bit too deep for the mostly vocal house mixes I often do. Music for driving on a deserted road at night. Of course, I don't even own a car, so WTF do I know?
REACH UP is mostly new deep house stuff. I went to Shelter on Saturday, after being absent for about two months, and I really caught the spirit. Sting International was playing, and he never disappoints. The mix contains 2 Peven Everett songs that have been killing New York dancefloors, Shelter in particular, for the last year. Peven Everett, in case you are unaware, is like the Prince of Chicago (as in Prince Roger Nelson, not Prince Charles). An impressively talented singer/songwriter who effortlessly switches speeds between house and R+B and puts out albums faster than you can buy them (seriously). Also included is another great Jill Scott bootleg mix, this one by Blaze, and some dope cuts from NY's own Ian Friday and Mr. nose-bone himself, Osunlade.
URUGUAYAN/AUSTRALIAN vs BRITISH/AMERICAN WEDDING MIX is just that. My very good friends Melinda and Serge are getting married in mexico this weekend. I am attending the wedding but they asked me to simply make a CD rather than actually DJing. I guess they want to get me drunk or something. I couldn't find any actual uruguayan music but Serge assured me his relatives would be cool with salsa and a little samba. The Brazilian jazz tune I put on there is fucking SMOKING: "Berimbau" by Mandrake Som. A classic blue note record from 1975 that I haven't heard in years. The rest of the CD is all party music for a mixed crowd. Check the playlist and you'll get the idea.
The older mixes are as follows: BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND 2 (2001), BANGKOK BOOTY CALL (2000), and LIVE AT SAPPHIRE (2005).
BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND 2 was the second house music CD I made after really getting back in to house, when I was going to Bang The Party every week and bugging Eman for track IDs. It has one of my favorite Osunlade songs of all time on it, "Rader Du". Despite being a guy from kansas City who wears a giant bone through his nose, Osunlade is a cool dude. He's been making house tracks for the last 6 years or so. he relocated to Puerto Rico for a bit, which makes sense, as he is really in to the whole Orisha/Santeria thing. Last I heard he was living in Greece. I've met him a few times. He's a nice guy, and he is getting to be a better DJ every time I hear him. Last time he played at 718 Sessions he really turned it out. Rumor has it he also programmed the drums for Gerardo's "Rico Suave", but you didn't hear that from me.
BANGKOK BOOTY CALL was a slow jam CD I made for my trip to Thailand. Lots of Erykah Badu and Angie Stone and Sade. Some nice tunes. Starts off with "Soul Sista" by Bilal, a soul singer from Philly that had a huge buzz when he first broke through about 6 years ago. Yet another guy on the cursed "Could he be the next Marvin Gaye?" list. Such a list is just a bad idea to begin with, as it sets the bar WAAAAAAY too high. I think he made one album and then kinda dropped outta sight. You may remember him from his debut single, "Fast Lane", that Dr. Dre produced. The tune was hot. The LP was OK. I'm still hoping he comes back and does his thing. I saw him live at SOB's once and he sang his ass off. I dug up his website online and it was painfully devoid of any real info (WTF?).
LIVE AT SAPPHIRE is a recording of me playing at Lola and Eman's "Deep See" party. Lola and Eman have really made a point of stretching beyond the traditional bongo-filled boundaries of NY deep house, playing some different shit that you don't hear anywhere else. Some harder shit. Some techier shit. Etc. So that's kind of the style I tried to roll with that night, which was a lot of fun. Can you dig it?
-     JAMAICAN CLUB REPORT
So I'm at this club last week in Jamaica. The two DJs are throwing down. I think they were called Renegade Disco. Playing all the new dancehall. Some old tunes. Some biggie. Some Rick Ross type shit. Some R and B. Real nice mix. Lots of mic chatter. Crowd is about 95% locals and real young, mostly 18-27.
Girls are going crazy. Dancing their asses off. Guys too. Everybody is really feeling it, doing all dem Jamaican dances (signal de plane, parachute, row de boat, etc.). I was there with a bunch of my friends who had never been to Jamaica, so they were really digging the energy of the crowd, cuz Jamaicans ain't playing when it comes to dancing.
Then the DJ changes it up and plays Wham "Wake me Up Before You Go Go". I was like ,"hmmm. Didn't know kids this young would be in to 80s shit". Crowd goes nuts. Especially the girls. They all start doing the Molly Ringwald/Eddie Murphy 80s white girl dance. you know the one I mean.
Then the DJ drops "Footloose". Crowd goes buckwild. EVERYBODY does the Footloose dance! I was like WTF?!?!
Then he runs through a reggae-style rapid-fire medley of "Take The A Train", "Rock Around the Clock" and mother fucking "Tutti Fruti" (!!!!), and the WHOLE CROWD starts doing the fucking Lindy hop! Then just like that he switches right back in to brand new Buju Banton and nobody misses a step.
Craziest fucking shit I've ever seen.
-     THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE DEVIL MIDGET
Hear! Hear! This meeting will now come to order. All of those present, please rise, form a circle, and raise your forearm in the traditional BOTDM signifier. When presenting this symbolic manifestation, those of you who do not hook your fist to the left in honor of our formidable founder will receive two demerits and will also be forced to wait at the back of the Jerk chicken line at this month's Red Stripe social/codfish cake bake-off.
In the immortal words of my mother fucking main man Brigadier Jerry: Jamaica! Jamaica!
Holy shit that place is fucking crazy. Beautiful and wonderful and tragic and crazy. What better place to deliver your kidnapped friend to for the bachelor party weekend to end all bachelor party weekends?
Such was the case last Thursday when three good friends and I snuck in to my boy's apartment at 6 am to drag him out of bed and in to a waiting limo. His fiance was kind enough to give us the keys, so cro-bars and Magnum P.I. lock pick sets were unnecessary. She was also kind enough to pack his bags prior to our arrival, so we all we had to do was throw some clothes on him and get him and get in the limo.
It was a dreary, rainy, gloomy Thursday morning in Queens. Several neighbors almost called the cops on my ass as I lurked in the vestibule awaiting the arrival of co-conspirators. Two of them cracked open the door and asked "you here to work on the roof or somethin'?" I guess I have that handyman look.
Despite the rain, we made good time getting to Newark airport. Our destination remained a secret until we were called to board the flight. So far, the plan was working like a charm.
A bachelor party kidnapping to Jamaica may seem a bit extreme, yet it all made perfect sense to us. Perhaps I need to preface this tale with some quick back-story: My own bachelor party occurred only two years prior, and I must say, it set the bar quite high. On that occasion, this same group of malcontents kidnapped me from my place of employment and delivered me via limo to Kennedy airport, from whence we were whisked away to sunny Miami for 3 days of sun-drenched silicone and really bad trance music. They got me a duplex suite at the Sagamore and a good time was had by all. And that is about all that needs to be said on the subject. (Editors note: There is a similar mandatory man-law gag-order on the Jamaican jaunt I am currently describing, but some stories are just too frighteningly real to be kept under wraps). What is important is that, like I said, they set the bar very high. This new bachelor party simply had to top the last one, and leaving the country seemed to be the only option.
As I have sworn an oath, the majority of the details of this trip will remain locked away, as tradition demands. It is the Devil Midget in particular which I feel compelled to describe, if for no other reason than to warn fellow travelers and spare them the night terrors which now befall me and my fellow travelers.
Prior to booking, I had done a small amount of web research to make sure that Ocho Rios would provide ample bachelor party-esque entertainment for six old men from New York City. I came across a few blogs and message boards with positive reviews of the town and the several gentleman's clubs contained within. When we actually got there, our driver shattered this illusion in the first five minutes of our first night out. Apparently, Ocho Rios USED to have a bunch of strip clubs, but that was years ago, and almost all of them are now closed. There was only one game in town, and that was a house of ill repute known appropriately as "Shades". I had actually been to this same club on my first visit to Jamaica when I was there DJing a party for Vibe magazine. We went out one night with a bunch of Vibe staff and this male gospel R and B group that was performing in town that weekend. Whatever you might think good Christian values may be, I can assure you these gentlemen left there's back in the room that night.
We visited Shades on our first night in town. The place was pretty dead. Being the only tourists in the joint made us quite popular. A little too popular for most of us to be quite honest. In the states you can usually get your flirt on or just be left alone if that is your mood. Such is not the case in Jamaica. These chicks are not playing. It's all business. And it's right in your face. And they aren't trying to hear "no thanks" for an answer. One of my boys somehow managed to divert the conversation to the topic of bingo. Not the dog. The game. One of the girls let it slip that earlier that day they had a staff bingo game going. This amused my friend a great deal. Every time the girl would try to coax my boy back in to the champagne room, he would say "uhhmm...maybe in a minute. Now tell me more about this bingo game! We escaped the first night with our virtues intact. All of the girls made it clear that the following night was the really good night to come, as it was "Freaky Night". Such a name did pique our curiosity, since it seemed like all manner of freakiness was already taking place.
We returned the following evening after a night of clubbing in town. And yeah I guess you could say it was freaky night alright. When we stepped in to the club, we all froze, our jaws on the floor. The stage, which was occupied by several dancers the previous night, now contained two beds. And a live sex show was well underway. And not just any live sex show, mind you, but one involving the most frighteningly well-endowed midget anyone has ever laid eyes on. Talk about a tripod. Like Tommy Lee, but 3 feet tall and Jamaican. It was the craziest most disturbing thing I think I've ever seen. You gotta understand, most straight men go through their day with very little expectation of seeing another man's penis other than their own. So when you see one, it's like "OH SHIT I SEE A PENIS!!" and ion this case, it was "HOLY FUCKING SHIT! THERE'S A MIDGET FUCKING A WOMAN ON THAT STAGE AND OH MY FUCKING GOD THAT'S THE BIGGEST SCARIEST PENIS I'VE EVER FUCKING SEEN!". Like, whoa. It was all business. Big and long, with a weird left hook towards the end. And being so disproportional to the size of the owner, it really seemed as though the penis was flailing the man back and forth, not the other way around. This illusion became more and more disturbing as the night progressed.
Once we retrieved our jaws from the floor, a broad wide-eyed grin overtook everyone's face. "You can't make this shit up!" said one. "What are the odds!" said another. See, the thing is, the groom in question has what you might call "a thing" for midgets. I can't really say if it's sexual or parental or curious or what, but the guy adores midgets. He likes movies with midgets. He likes music videos with midgets. he likes photographs with midgets. He just fucking digs midgets. So the site of not only a midget, but a midget with the biggest penis on planet earth...well...it just felt like God himself was shining a little beam of sunshine straight down from heaven and personally blessing our trip with this once in a lifetime display of freakiness.
So we found a booth and got some absurdly strong over-proof rum drinks and began the ritual of fighting off the working girls who, quite frankly, were distracting us from the freak show at hand. The more we drank, the more weird and surreal it all became. I suppose the ganja played a part as well. It just got weird.
The more you looked at the midget, the angrier his face seemed, and the more he seemed to be staring right at you. And he looked MEAN. His penis certainly looked MEAN too. Mean and UGLY. And on top of this, he was soon joined by another couple. One of the dancers and a guy wearing absolutely nothing except what I can only describe as a terrifying mask. He was wearing this weird black mask that was just made up of layers of black gauze. It was like Jacob's Ladder meets the Handmaid's Tale or something. Apparently he was a rasta and didn't want his identity to be known, cuz live sex shows have apparently lost a bit of their cachet over the years. In any case, the mask just turned up the shudder meter to eleven. Now you got the shaky guy from Jacob's Ladder having sex with one woman on one end of the stage, and a giant penis with a midget attached to it having sex with another woman on the other end. It was all just too much.
About an hour in to this, my friend leans over and plainly states: "Dude, I think I've found the line. The line that is just too much for my brain to absorb. I've seen some nasty shit in my life... but dude... this is just too much. I got to get the fuck outta here!" He promptly bolted for the door, taking another one my friends with him.
And he was right, there's some shit in this world that maybe you just don't need to see, and despite our initial joy at the site of a naked midget, it turned out this whole scenario was indeed one of those things that was perhaps better left unseen. In fact, I think I am now gonna add all live sex shows to that list. I had a similarly disturbing experience in Bangkok that doesn't bear repeating.
We met back in the bus, and the conversation was pretty much all-midget from that moment forward. Warren, our local driver, was particularly amused and amazed. He lived in Ocho Rios and even he admitted he had never seen anything that crazy. The more we joked about it, the more we realized this shit was just going to haunt us for years. You just couldn't get his face out of your head. Not to mention the other thing. This shit gives me the shudders just typing it. I need a drink.
At dinner the next evening we raised our forearms in a circle, hooking our wrists a little to the left, confirming our lifetime bond as The Brotherhood of the Devil Midget. May he live in our nightmares from that day forth.
-     THE TIME I ALMOST GOT KILLED BY AGNOSTIC FRONT
This story has been floating around my head ever since I saw the recent documentary "American Hardcore". The movie is a pretty decent break-down of the American hardcore punk scene that I was deeply entrenched in as a young lad. For those of us who lived it, there is not anything particularly illuminating in the film, as it is a pretty broad overview. Nevertheless, There is some great concert footage of Minor Threat and Black Flag and Bad Brains and a bunch of bands that are near and dear to my heart, as well as some nice interviews with guys like Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat) and Vic Bondi (Articles of Faith). The guy who wrote the film, Steve Blush, is a very nice dude and a real music head. He published a great underground magazine in the 90s called "Seconds" that would cover everything from hip hop to Norwegian death metal. I met him in 1991 when he used to DJ at Wetlands occasionally.
One thing that is particularly amusing in the film is hearing people talk about beef between the different scenes in each city, and how New York skinheads in particular had this rep for being serious bad-asses. And they did, because they were.
The hardcore scene in Cincinnati, and the midwest in general, was very different from the East coast. People in the midwest are, on the whole, pretty damn friendly, and this congenial spirit permeated even the cynical, hate-your-parents, fuck-society, punk rock scene as well. Sure, we slam danced and mouthed off and threw beer cans at the bands, but it was, for the most part, all in good fun. You'd get some bruises venturing in to the pit, but if you fell down, usually somebody would reach down and pick your ass up. And if you got accidentally elbowed in the face, usually the guy would actually apologize. I suppose there was so few of us punk rockers at the time (early 80s), that we felt a kind of camaraderie in our isolation. We felt so besieged by the world around us that the last person we would hate on would be a fellow outcast. There were a thousand exceptions of course, as every scene has their assholes, but still, for the most part, this is how I remember it. Punk rock shows were fun, and if fights did break out, they were usually started by some rednecks who came in specifically looking to kick some punk rock ass.
New York City, on the other hand, was a whole different animal. New York had been punk since the 70s. And there was thousands of punks, not hundreds, so this "love your fellow outcast" shit was not so prevalent, at least not to my eyes. Plus, it was New York fucking City, and shit was juts boud to be rougher because a lot of these kids came up in seriously rough neighborhoods, a far cry from the mean tree lined streets of Cincinnati. The first time I went to a show at CGGB's, when I was 14 or so, I could not believe just how brutal that shit was. Dudes were in the pit, just straight knocking mother fuckers OUT. Gigantic skinheads were whirling around like a pack of Tasmanian devils, punching every single person in the face. It was bananas. It was like a nightmare. Like every jock from my high school had shaved his head and put on some Doc Martens. It was scary, and I was WAY out of my league.
The reason I convey this little anecdote is to give a little context for the times, and to emphasize that the New York skinheads had a serious rep that preceded them, and just about everybody in the entire country knew about it. Even in Cincinnati, we knew not to fuck with New York skins.
So Agnostic Front, the signature band of the New york Skins, gets booked to play at the Jockey Club, the only punk rock club in Cincinnati (it was actually across the river in Kentucky but whatever). Somebody in the band had heard of Sluggo, my band, so they asked the promoter to get us to open for them. We were thrilled to accept the offer, as we thought it hilarious that Sluggo, a bunch of mild mannered midwest boys from nice homes and prep schools, would be on the same bill as a notoriously violent skinhead band from New York City that were rumored to be some sort of Nazis.
Unfortunately, a few weeks before the show, I had to get surgery on my foot. I had this weird "bone spur" growing out of the side of the little toe on my left foot. Weird, I know. Anyway, I was in a cast from the knee down and unable to perform. So we told the promoter, and he got another band. Problem solved. Despite not being able to open the show, Chris and I attended the show, as we were still curious about seeing Agnostic Front, and finding out if all of these Nazi skinhead rumors were true.
So I'm hanging inside the club out by the bar with some friends when Agnostic Front walks in the club (never mind that I was 15 and hanging out in a bar). They certainly looked the part. Shaved heads. Covered in tattoos. And fucking DIESEL. My friends and I walk over to greet the band, who seemed a bit weary from the road.
We talk to Roger, the lead singer. Some kind of informal Cincinnati welcome was offered and accepted, then Roger says "So is this Sluggo band here? I wanna meet 'em". I then politely inform him that unfortunately we (Sluggo) had to cancel the gig due to unforseen circumstances.
"WHAT?! FUCK DAT!" Roger exclaimed. "We told the promoter they were supposed to open! THIS IS BULLSHIT!"
He was surprisingly angry at this news.
"Yeah, were really sorry about that, but...uhm...nothing could be done" I said.
"NO WAY! FUCK DAT! GET ME THE PROMOTER!" He growled back.
He was really pissed, and veins were kinda popping out of his neck a bit.
I was like "uhm...yeah...sorry about that".
In the middle of all this, my friend Dave Gonzalez hands Roger a copy of his fanzine, a local rag with a circulation of about 100, in which I had written a not so favorable review of Agnostic Front's new album, "Victim In Pain". Miraculously, Roger thumbs through the fanzine and immediately finds the review, which he begins reading with intense concentration. With each sentence I could see his eyes widening and his brow furrowing something awful. This was not good, and I was standing right in front of him, thinking to myself "oh shit...I'm fucking DEAD. The New York Skins are gonna kick my ass, and the show hasn't even started yet".
"WAIT A SECOND!" He barks! "Who the FUCK wrote this?! Dis is BULLSHIT!"
Dave Gonzalez, with a big shit-eating grin on his face, decides to seize the moment and seal my fate "Oh that? That's Julian, he's also the lead singer of Sluggo, the band that cancelled on you!" I glared at him like "IX-NAE ON THE ULIAN-JAY", but it was too late.
"WHAT!" Roger yells, at all of us. "FUCK DIS SHIT!"
"YO VINNIE! CHECK DIS BULLSHIT OUT, MAN!" He calls over the guitarist Vinnie Stigma, and equally scary New York skinhead.
"This asshole is in the band, Sluggo, that cancelled on us, AND he trashed our fucking album in this zine, saying that YOU were out of tune!"
"WHAT!?!" Vinnie exclaims "FUCK DAT!"
"DAT'S WHAT I'M SAYING! DIS IS BULLSHIT"
Now they were both angry as fuck.
So I'm standing there thinking "should I just run?". My friends were all just looking at me smiling, because they knew I was fucking dead. Plus, I had a cast on my foot and I was on crutches. I wasn't running anywhere.
Then Roger gets right in my face and says "SO IS THIS JULIAN GUY FUCKING HERE OR WHAT? CUZ HE'S FUCKING DEAD!"
I did a double-take for a second, as I was busy mentally counting my teeth and calculating the cost of reconstructive surgery. Then I realized what he had just asked me. Miracle of miracles, he had somehow missed the part where I introduced myself as being Julian from the band Sluggo. I look around at all my friends, who are in a similar state of disbelief, trying not to burst out laughing. Simultaneously we all reply "Uhhmm...yeah...I think he's around here somewhere". Even Dave Gonzalez played along.
So the hunt was on. The hunt for ME. Roger grabs Vinnie and a gargantuan Yeti-sized roadie named "Frenchie da skin", and demands that we all search the club together until we find this Julian guy. We were all like "Uhhmm...no problem!"
So now we're roaming around the club, in a big angry skinhead wolfpack, looking to kick MY ass. My friends were doing their best no to crack up and I was doing my best not to piss myself. There were plenty of people there that knew me, and I was just praying to God that nobody gave away my identity. As we walked around, Vinnie was reading the review, getting angrier and angrier.
"SO WHAT if I was out of fucking tune?? WHO GIVES A SHIT?? Has this guy Julian ever made a record? He's fuckin' DEAD!!" This was not going well.
So we searched and searched, but alas, I was nowhere to be found. Talk about dodging a bullet. The whole time I was picturing myself lying on the ground in a pool of blood as all three of them took turns stomping on my face with their Doc Martens. But it was just not meant to be. The punk rock gods were seemingly sympathetic to my plight, so I was spared. Nobody had given away my identity, and the band was overdue for soundcheck, so they eventually gave up the hunt and rejoined the rest of the band on stage.
I stayed for the show, which was actually pretty damn good. During their set, the aforementioned bald Yeti, Frenchie da skin, stalked back and forth menacingly at the front of the stage, stomping on any arms or hands he could find and kicking people in the head, And these were people who hadn't even written a bad review of them. I made sure to keep my distance and count my blessings.
-     10/24/06 - IT BEGINS...
So today I launched this very site you are reading. I hope it is the beginning of something substantial for me personally. I'm so close it right now, I have no idea what to think. I've just always wanted to gather all of my interests in one place and kind of catalogue my life and brain in some cohesive way. I don't think I'm there yet, but this is a start. There is still tons of stuff I want to include: more mixtapes. More writing. My old fanzine from when I was a kid. Etc. But for now, it is what it is.
My big gigantic gargantuan thanks go to Neil Stuber, without whom, this site would not exist. He put up with a million annoying questions from me and he did the lion's share of the coding that got me up and running. I owe him at least two lapdances when I finally lose the beer gut.
For the rest of youze reading this, i hope there is something of interest here for you. There are still a few hundred bugs that need fixing, but I will get to those. Feel free to Email me with suggestions for making the site better, as I am brand new to this. Thanks for browsing. Keep it real.
-     MUNDANE MIRACLES intro
Twice in my life have I been on the receiving end of good graces from some supernatural force that seemed beyond the realm of your average day to day good fortune. Whether it was God or an Orisha or a Welchkin is anybody's guess. Or maybe it was just dumb luck. You make the call..
-     MUNDANE MIRACLES: EL DRYER DE DIOS
One time I was at the laundry mat on Lafayette and South Portland. This was about four years ago, when I still had the energy to actually go to the laundry mat and do my own laundry. To be honest, I really enjoyed it. There was a certain Zen-like quality about the singularity of the task. Clothes dirty = wash clothes + dry clothes = clothes clean. There is very little room for interpretation in this equation. A simplicity that was a welcome respite from the complexity of my day to day existence on the planet.
Also, laundry mats are great people watching. They are the great common denominator, bringing those of us not wealthy enough to have our own washer/dryer together in the same room for the exact same task. There is no first class. You cannot reserve a dryer on your Amex. Everybody's equal. Everybody has dirty underwear. In Brooklyn, they are especially great people watching.
You get to see that cute chick that you see at the deli sometimes. Except for now she's all rumpled and hung over. She's wearing old ratty sweatpants and her hair is kinda fucked up and she's not wearing makeup and she's smoking a cigarette and she's wearing her glasses and she's reading the Sunday times. All of which makes her even sexier than she ever looked buying a pint of Hagen Dasz at 2am. I had a big crush on this girl. On all these girls.
Then there's the exhausted, run-ragged neighborhood mothers, with their three buckwild kids and their frighteningly short tempers. How do they do it?
This particular laundrymat, like many in the hood, was family run. You often see three generations of the family in one room. I think they were from Jordan or something.
You see the grandma, who doesn't speak English, and heckles her poor son all day about god knows what.
You see the beaten down, hard-working father who scraped and suffered for this ghetto laundry mat business and its rude, ungrateful customers.
You see his two sons. The older, more responsible one, who bears his familial burden like a trooper. Like his father, he diligently tends to the laundry mat, and mediates the heated disputes over dryers and carts. He works almost as tirelessly as his Pop, and he resents his younger brother, who is almost never there (always playing basketball with his Black American friends). Then there's the younger son. He HATES the laundry mat. He is embarrassed by it. It's written all over his face. He is fully assimilated, rejecting his strict Muslim upbringing. He listens to hip hop, and he's gradually taken on the slang and swagger and of his Brooklyn classmates. He wears sweat suits and a little bling earing and he is always hanging with his niggas, stopping by to bum a few bucks from Dad so he can go to the movies with his crew or some shit. He tries desperately to avoid working even one minute in the laundry mat.
And finally you have the good, beautiful, virtuous daughter. She does well in school and is going to be the first person in the family to go to college if she can just stay a virgin and not get knocked up. I had a crush on this girl too.
Anyway, so, like I said, I'm at the laundry mat. At the time, I was living with my (then) girlfriend, Anne, who did not share my love of people-watching, nor my Zen Buddhist approach to the rendering of clean clothes. She found it tedious and boring. And she often worked on the weekends, so I often did the laundry on my own.
I had long gotten over the embarrassment of an armful of ladies underwear. After all, it is proof that you are getting some ass, which is more than you can say for lots of lonely, nerdly men you see at the laundry mat. So I'll wash my woman's clothes, no problem. However, there is an inherent risk in letting a man wash a woman's clothes without supervision, because men just don't give a shit. Women will separate everything by different colors and fabrics. They'll take one item of clothing out of the dryer after 3 minutes and then hang it up on a hanger. They'll wash stuff on cold. All kinds of crazy things. Men just take the entire bag and cram it all in to one of those big-ass industrial size washers that cost $3.25. Just throw it all in and hope for the best. Who cares if the clothes are all mashed in to one big lump. Big deal. Same goes for the dryer. Why wait for 4 different dryers that you can run at different temperatures? What is this, a fucking controlled experiment on static cling? This is Brooklyn god dammit! Getting even one dryer is like a fucking miracle. Just be happy the person before you left their clothes unattended. Even if it is wet, it is unattended, and the owner is nowhere to be seen. Dump that shit in a cart and act like you never touched it. BOO-YA!
So this being a typical Sunday, I had just finished mashing a huge wet 50-pound ball of clothes in to my one goldmine of a dryer. Perhaps Anne had mentioned something about "don't put this or that in the dryer because it will shrink", but I had done my best to forget that information the very moment it was uttered. In one ear and out the other. Look through that giant heap of wet clothes for some jogging bra? Fuck that noise. It's ALL going in. The fucking door will barely close, and it's so heavy the thing can barely make one revolution without popping a gasket, but it's ALL going in.
But dammit, wouldn't you know it, I had hooked up with a smart woman. Even on a Sunday morning, while she was hard at work, knee deep in construction documents and blue-prints and bizarre three sided rulers with measurements not of this planet, some little alarm went off in her head. DING! DING! DING! JULIAN IS DOING LAUNDRY AT THIS VERY MOMENT! DING! DING! DING! AND YOU KNOW THAT BOY IS GOING TO SHRINK YOU’RE LYCRA JOGGING BRA! DING! DING! DING! STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND CALL THAT FOOL BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE! DING! DING! DING! YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO FIND A JOGGING BRA THAT FITS AND DOESN'T CHAFE! DING! DING! DING! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???? CALL HIM!! CALL HIM!!
My cellphone rings. It's Anne. I had just finally started to relax. I had my one magical dryer. That big gigantic boulder of clothes was in there, churning slowly away. So what if it will take 2 full hours to dry. It's Sunday. I've got my bacon-egg-and-cheese-on-a-roll and I've got my Tropicana orange juice and I've got my Sunday Times and I even got one of the highly sought after white plastic chairs that sit on the sidewalk in front of the laundry mat; a front row seat to the entire neighborhood. I thought I was the cat's pajamas. Then Anne had to call. RATS! It's probably gonna be about some stupid piece of clothing too. FUCK.
"Yo. What's up baby?". "Yeah, I just put everything in the dryer. Halfway done". "How's work?". "Oh well, whaddya gonna do..." "Huh? What's that?". "Jogging bra? Hmmmm Can't say that I did see it". "Maybe you forgot to put it in the bag...". "What? You sure about that?". "I don't know man, I mean, I just put everything in the dryer and there's a fuck of a lot of clothes". "I don't know". "I mean, it'll be fine". "Oh really? No chafing huh? I know how you hate that". "Right". "Yeah". "Uh-huh". "Right". "So you really want me to stop the dryer and find that jogging bra? Really?". "Right". "You know,I don't know...". "I'm just sayin'...". "sometimes these old dryers don't work if you stop them in mid-cycle. I could lose my money 'n shit. Then I'd be fucked, cuz I'm out of quarters" (I ACTUALLY HAD ABOUT 8 DOLLARS IN QUARTERS LEFT). "Right...Uhm...okay...I guess I'll just have to stop it and hope I can get it to work again". "Yeah okay...see ya later"
FUCK. I had to put down my bacon-egg-and-cheese-on-a-roll and my Tropicana orange juice and my Sunday Times and I had to go back in there and face THE LUMP. The big stinking wet lump of clothes inside that godforsaken machine. Man, how I dreaded this moment. Why did I answer that call? Why? FUCK.
Just as I stood up, something unexpected happened. I heard one of the neighborhood mothers barking at me from inside the laundry mat. "MISTA! MISTA!" At least I think she was talking to me. I looked up and pointed to myself in puzzlement "Talkin'to me?". "Mista! This yo dryer ain't it?" She pointed towards what was indeed my dryer. "Yeah that's mine" I replied. "Well you betta get ova here. The door done opened up a bit and cothes is fallin' out". I walked in to the laundry mat. As I approached the dryer, the woman bent down to pick something up. I came to a stop beside her as she lifted an item of clothing before my eyes. My jaw dropped to the floor. It was the ONE piece of clothing that had forced the dryer door ajar and fallen out in to the room not thirty seconds ago. And, miracle of miracles, wouldn't you now it, it was the lycra jogging bra. The very same elusive lycra jogging bra that I had just been discussing on the phone with Anne. The very same elusive lycra jogging bra that would have taken me twenty minutes to find, if ever. Now I’m not a religious man y any means, but I gotta call a spade a spade. This, my dear friend, was truly a miracle.
I stood there in disbelief for about a full minute.
"HOLE-EEEE-SHIT that is fucking incredible" I thought to myself. Wow. This was just about the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me. A big smile stretched across my face. I closed the door and re-started the dryer. I walked back out to my seat on the sidewalk, jogging bra safely in hand. I hung the bra over the arm-rest of the chair. I took my seat. I grabbed my paper and my sandwich. The sun was shining. This day was gonna turn out just fine.
-     MY FAREWELL LETTER TO EYEBALL AFTER 10 YEARS WORKING THERE
This probably won't mean much to anybody who doesn't know these people, but whetever.
Also, this needs a bit of set up: One week prior to my leaving, Eyeball's accountant Maria Benedetto also left the company. She sent out a letter to everybody, which is where I got the idea for mine. I basically copied her file and just changed some text. So I've included her farewell Email first as reference.
Today is my last day here and I just want to say how much I enjoyed working with all of you. I wish you all the best with your future endeavors. I wasn't really sure what else to say but I thought I would just list a few of my initial thoughts about when I met each of you, feelings, and comments about some of you here at Eyeball. Stay in touch.
Eve: MOMMY POWER!! WOMEN POWER! Lifetime friend. You are so great and I wish you all the joy and happiness with your beautiful family.
Cassandra: You are my soul sister. Yes I am white--but I'm I-TALIAN Yes that is my husband in the picture. Favorite quotable movie Color Purple. Favorite quote by Grandma "If you want to see black.......(you know the rest)";. Amazing friend and colleague.
Mike: Is he English or Australian?? Come on you believe in God.Thank you for your generosity to myself and the staff. Your fairness was always very much appreciated!! I am sure our paths will cross again.
Greg: Who is that guy in the kid's desk next to Eve? Stay in one piece. Be careful. Don't go under a ladder or pass a black cat. It has been working with you.
Beth: I don't know you well-but it has been great to work with you and good luck with all your races. Girls Rock!!
Shelly: Do your thing girl. You are sweet and I have enjoyed working with you and your little quirks. It is not your fault you are from Bush country :)
Alex: Congrats on the wedding and good luck with ET.
Lola: I am going to miss you the most!
Howard: That guy is so happy!! Keep a smile on your face always and good luck with ET.
TJ: Are you from the good or bad part of Korea? Good luck with your life.
Ghazia: The only women among all those men. Stay focused and strong!!I am going to miss your kind and gentle nature.
Danny: You are awesome!! I am going to miss our talks. Things are going to be alrightJ Keep in touch.
Vance: Thanks for the baby/children advice. Take care. You were always the first one down.
Stuart: The great diplomat. I am going to miss you. You are very kind and genuine.
Toby: I was just starting to get to know you. But if Cassandra thinks you're a cool dude than I have to agree. Stay on time.
Julian: You are real and down to earth. Thanks for everything. And although you don't speak much, more importantly is that you listen. Stay hip.
Neil: What can I say my friend? Your eyes are the mirror to your deep soul-river deep and mountain high. Stay blessed. You are a good and sensitive man - not too many of those around. Stay in touch.
Henry: You are like a big sweet cuddly teddy bear. Good luck with your career.
Johan: Equality is great! Enjoy your paternity leave. Enjoy your family. Take care.
Ugo: Freedom Fries! And did France really think they had a chance against Italy J
Marissa: Can I borrow you for a day at my house? You are so kind. Stay strong.
Allan: Where did Alex come from?
"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."
-- Martin Luther King Jr --
So this is my version...
Today is my last day here. I will still be in and out next week, cleaning out my office, gathering files, and eating all the snacks.
It's been a long, Bezier curvy 10-year road. I walked in to Eyeball on 27th street in 1996 knowing pretty much nothing about computers, much less this industry. 10 years later I have more knowledge than I know what to do with. I leave here with no plan and no idea what the future will bring, but I feel great, because I have learned so much from all of you. I thank you all for being so freakin’ wonderful.
I wasn't really sure what else to say, but I thought I would just list a few of my initial thoughts about when I met each of you, feelings, and comments about some of you here at Eyeball. Stay in touch. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
EVE: MOMMY POWER!! WOMEN POWER! Lifetime friend. You are so great and I don't know what I'd do without your hilarious long island accent. You're like the Andrew Dice Clay of motion graphics producers, except you don't work quite as blue. Seriously though, you've been great and a lot of fun to work with and I totally agree that Mike is a giant pain in the ass and that Greg is lazy and worthless.
CASSANDRA: You are my soul sister. Yes I am white--but I'm black on the inside, at least that's what Atilla told me once (not making this up, BTW. He then proceeded to tell me he was Chinese on the inside. Not making that up either). Yes, that is my husband in the picture. Wait, scratch that last part. Seriously, though, you rule. You make excellent snack choices and you take no guff from anybody. You need to give Neil a beating cuz I swear he keeps popping shit about you.
MIKE: Is he Australian or just gay?? Maybe both - who knows? Either way, we bonded on our love of the beach and our tendency to leave as early as humanly possible on Fridays. I will miss you, and that weird Australian boy band music that was always playing at your desk. Wasn't AC/DC from Australia? WTF happened?
GREG: Who is that big giant over-grown kid in the man's desk next to Shelly? Oh that's right, it's Greg. You're a cool dude, despite being really really in to soccer. I guess you're a better producer than you are a hooligan. The lord works in mysterious ways, don't he? Thanks for all of your help and patience with me. Oh yeah: tell that nagging Eve to put a sock in it. What is she, your mom?
BETH: I don't know you as well as I'd like to, but I trust that our paths will cross again. I am sorry I thought all women that play softball are gay. I was wrong, and I respect anybody that can not only finish a triathlon, but also successfully transfer a client call to a conference phone without getting the instructions from my desk. You need to speak to Eve and Mike and Greg about that. (Straight) Girls Rock!!
MARIA: So long soul sister. It took me a long time to get to know you, but you turned out to be totally funny and cool and a wise-ass and not at all like the weird accountant I thought you were. Thanks so much for your patience and diligence and all your hard work. You will be sorely missed. Good luck with your family and your future.
SHELLY: Do your thing girl. You are cool and weird and you dress like the Wayback machine got stuck in 1984. That's a good thing, mind you. You're always 12 months ahead of the hipster trash that I yearn to lay waste to with a semi-automatic machine gun. Good luck with DJ gigs and keep being fabulous. Also, you should give Alex a beating cuz I swear he keeps popping shit about you
ALEX: Congrats on the wedding. Thanks for inviting me to prove that Colombian chicks do, in fact, rule. I was doing the Jack Tripper fist bite every 5 seconds down there. Ay dios mio. Keep making those phat beatz. Lastly, you need to get an office with some windows before you grow bug eyes and start saying "my precious" all the time.
LOLA: I am going to miss you the most! I can never have enough dog hair on my pizza!
HOWARD: That guy is so freakin' happy it's crazy!! I wish I had some of that stuff. Keep a smile on your face always, and good luck with ET. Also check with Alex cuz I'm pretty sure all Expansion Team employees have to dress new wave like Shelly. It's in the manual.
TJ: Are you from the good or bad part of Korea? Do they have timesheets in the old country too? Jeez Louise enough with the freakin' timesheets already!! As glad as I am to be rid of those, I will miss you. You're a funny dude, and I have mad respect all viral internet celebrities. Your 15 minutes has just begun. Make sure to log all 15 on the sheet. Also, any guy that can see Limore naked every day for 3 years and not move out has my respect.
GHAZIA: The only women among all us dudes. stay focused and strong!! Seriously, I can' say enough good things about Ghazia. She had me at "hello", though she didn't actually say "hello", she just kind of looked at me and smiled nervously, as is her way. Still, I'm pretty sure she was saying "hello", telepathically, and in Hindi. Anyway, she is the coolest, most humble, most kind, most considerate chick on earth. We should all strive to be more like her. On top of all that charm and beauty, she can draw all of us under the table, which I really respect. If only her drinking skills were as bad ass. Give it time. If anyone here messes with Ghazia, all she has to do is tell me, and I will immediately tell Cassandra to find you and beat your ass.
DANNY: You're my homey. I am going to miss our talks. You're totally weird in the best way and I am really happy we got to work together again. May this not be the last. You need to invite me to more obscure Cologne techno events too. I promise not to dance if you promise to introduce me to some of your wife's cute Japanese friends. Hook a brother up! Oh wait, I'm married. Forget it.
VANCE: You are almost as quiet as Ghazia, but, sad to say, not nearly as cute. Then again, I've never seen you that drunk, so maybe you could have changed my mind. Thanks for putting up with my rampant un-professionalism and lack of follow-through. I admire you for being such a solid family man and I hope to one day be like you, only richer and with a Japanese mistress or two.
STUART: The great diplomat. I am going to miss you. I thought I was a nerd until I met you. That said, you are the freakin' rock of Eyeball. Your creative energy has meant so much to this company, and so much to me personally. Thanks for putting up with all my insensitive 3D disses. I know for a fact that there was more than a few times you would have punched me in the face if I had said one more thing about a texture map. Thanks for your restraint. On another note, now you will need to find someone else with as much useless information as we both have in our heads. Good luck with that.
TOBY: I was just starting to get to know you. You do kinda dress like a hobo sometimes, but I guess I am just out of touch with today's youth fashions. And if Cassandra thinks you're a cool dude, then, hobo or not, I have to agree. Call me for some fresh excuses about being late. Learn from the master. That "I got hit by a bus" shit is played out.
NEIL: What can I say my friend? Your eyes are the mirror to your deep soul - river deep and mountain high. What the fuck does that even mean? I've never gazed that deep in to your eyes, but I have spent a lot of conference calls gazing at your calves thinking what the hell kinda tattoo is that anyway? You are a talented mofo and a no bullshit guy. Two qualities that will take you far in whatever you want to do. Thanks so much for all your help and patience with me. Don't take any guff from Limore. He talks tough, but he's really an old softie. Look out for my girl Ghazia or I will get Cassandra on your ass. BTW, I heard she's looking for you, dog.
HENRY: You are like a big sweet cuddly teddy bear. Except you're the kind of big sweet cuddly bear that could probably also crush my skull in to dust with two fingers (if anything can be discerned from your bowling prowess, that is). I was glad to get to know you. You're mad humble and a quick learner. You're also a super nice guy. These are all good things. Keep on learning and never doubt yourself. You're a bad mofo. Hopefully one day Stuart will move you away from all those smelly freelancers.
JOHAN: Equality is great! Enjoy your paternity leave, you lazy, non-birth-giving, all-day-Jerry-Springer-watching, good-for-nothing, Swedish lolly-gagger. Seriously though, you're probably the hardest working guy at Eyeball. You came in super humble, and you continue to keep impressing everybody with every new thing you master. Nobody does so much, yet complains so little, unlike Eve, who complains all damn day. Sheesh! Does anything make that woman happy? But I digress. Those reel transitions are the jewel in your crown, and maybe you should be the next Gondry. Good luck with the family and all that cable TV time. For your sake, I hope you have Tivo.
UGO: Freedom Fries! And did France really think they had a chance against Italy? Newsflash: nobody cares about soccer besides you, Greg, and a bunch of weird Europeans. And also a bunch of Latin Americans, but their men watch soap operas, so what does that tell you? Still, nobody cares, so get over it. Despite that, you're a cool dude. Your 24/7/365 toothy grin makes me want to smile, and that is beautiful. On top of that, you come up with the craziest ideas I've ever heard. All you need to do is work on your Guitar Hero stage presence. You'll never score any chicks backstage with that stiff, dead stare. Type in "Angus Young" on Youtube when you get a minute and you'll get my drift.
MARISSA: Can I borrow you for a day at my house? You are so sweet. We never really had a conversation, but you're smile says it all. Thanks for all your hard work
ALLAN: Thanks for all your hard work too. I was gonna wash those dishes. I swear.
ANTHONY: You snuck out of here while I was busy quitting - not cool. Love ya my Italian brother. Maybe with all my free time I can start lifting weights, and then we can play "how much ya bench?" via instant messenger.
KEN: You are a Good Man!!!!!! You are the best and I am going to miss interacting with you daily, then again you're like, never around anymore anyway, so who am I kidding? Still, thanks for everything. You're a stand-up guy and I always liked hanging with you. Good luck and tell all these whiny computer-know-nothings to get off your back. P.S. your girlfriend is really hot.
WING: Thanks for everything. Stop smoking. Actually, screw that. Life is short. Might as well smoke, cuz you could get hit by a bus tomorrow (just ask Toby).
JASON/SETH/JOE/GERRY: Hot damn! I am switching to the dark side. We need to hang out in bars at 11am and talk shit about Limore. Isn't that what the freelance life is all about? Each of you has mad a great contribution to Eyeball and I'm sure you'll continue to do so. Great working with you all. I was a little freaked out when Seth got his haircut and looked like Spock's wife, but I'm past that now.
LIMORE: What can I say? It's been a long strange trip since 4th grade. You need to bring back the Jew fro and the MC Hammer pants. These people don't know what they missed. You were the MACK back then, homey. But seriously, thanks so much for all that you've taught me and all your patience and leniency with me. I think we did a lot of great work together and I am immensely proud of it all. We have come a long way from being two Cincinnati misfits with a sketchbook and a dream and a crush on the same girl. I still feel bad about that, but now I'm strictly "bros before hoes". I am also proud that our friendship has endured through all these years. We managed to not kill each other and I think we also managed to inspire a lot of people, both internally and in the world at large. Hopefully next time it will be me in Korea getting mobbed by schoolgirls. Thanks for everything. I know we will stay in touch and stay friends, and that is, hands down, the icing on the cake of my entire career in this nutty business. Thank you.
And thank you all.
Keep it real,
-     TOTALLY DEPRESSING LETTER I WROTE TO TWO OLD FRIENDS 10 DAYS AFTER 9/11
Toni and Spange
It has been a very weird and depressing 10 days. Luckily, all of my immediate friends are OK. I have several "friends of friends" that are presumed dead but no one that I really knew personally. I have been very very sad and doing a lot of crying but I am starting to pull out of this funk. Writing has been helping me a lot. I've been corresponding with my friend Serge who moved back to Australia in mid-July. His girlfriend Melinda lives 2 blocks from the WTC. She survived.
I am a little tired of being so damn sad but it also hard to let go of. This week I had two visitors from out of town, my father and Vicky, my ex-girlfriend from Holland. Consequently, I spent two whole days walking around Manhattan re-living the horror of last week, which didn't lend itself to putting any distance on the event. But I'm really not sure if distance is what I really need. I think a big part of me wants to stay sad, as if doing so will somehow honor the memory of the dead.
My father and I caught the Q train over the Manhattan bridge so he could get a good look at the gaping hole in the skyline. We got out at the Canal Street station in Chinatown. Upon reaching street level, the very first thing we saw were Nation Guardsmen in full fatigues, leaning up against a camouflage Hummer, manning the checkpoint at Canal and Centre Street. They were talking to some cops. You have probably heard this over and over on the news, but so many elements of last week's event and the after-effects seemed more like a movie than real life. Seeing army men in the streets of New York is one such example.
On the corner we saw the first of hundreds of "missing" flyers that cover every lamp post, telephone booth, post box, trash can, and electric box on every corner in Manhattan. The man was Chinese and the father of three kids. In his photo he wore a suit jacket with a flower on the lapel. He had a gap in his teeth. He worked in the kitchen at Windows On The World. No one from the restaurant survived.
We walked north up Centre street, passing the remains of two police cars that had been towed from near "ground zero" a few days previously. Their windows and headlights were all blown out and they were covered in inches of ash, both inside and out. Plastic tarps were duct-taped over the tops. Paper and debris littered the inside of both cars.
We then came to the firehouse on Lafayette right above Prince Street. A huge mound of flowers and candles stood at the base of several wreaths. The makeshift monument stretched down the sidewalk, spilling across the adjacent storefronts. This particular station lost 15 men. There were several huge cards signed by the neighborhood. Lots of cards from school children. Most of the candles were still lit. A large sign posted inside the window displayed the names of the dead. A row of fifteen small American flags were taped to the outside wall. Sadly, every firehouse in Manhattan has a similar shrine.
We stopped at Time Cafe for lunch, which was virtually deserted at noon.
We continued north to the memorial/vigil in Union Square. There were about 600 people milling about, far less crowded than when I had visited there on Saturday. The large paved plaza, usually filled with skaters, homeless, and students ditching school, was filled with the curious and the grief-stricken, and a lot of photographers.
At the foot of every lamp post there were make-shift memorial altars.15-foot round mass of candles, flowers, wreaths, home-made signs, and photos of the dead. Most of the candles were burnt to the ground in a colorful mess of wax clumps. Nevertheless, at each altar, someone was still precariously stepping in and out of the circle, re-lighting any candle that still had a wick. I cannot help crying when I see these altars.
I tried to read as many of the cards as I could. The strangest one was about someone's sister who had died in a car crash last year. The person wrote that he was happy that his little sister and her best friend would be there in heaven to welcome all of the victims of the WTC. This struck me as very weird. I thought about it a lot. I guess this guy has been carrying around so much grief for over a year and that he now finally feels like so many people really feel his pain.
The large statue of George Washington on a horse has become the central altar of the vigil. It is surrounded by an enormous circle of flowers and candles and such, stretching out 20 or 30 feet from the base. A spray painted white flag with a peace symbol has been duct taped to his outstretched hand. A huge old 1970s poster of the NY skyline was taped to the base. It had the words "We Will Prevail" scribbled across the top.
Two Krishnas were chanting and playing a drum over by the subway entrance. A white man dressed as a Muslim was being interviewed by several people with cam-corders and tape decks. I got the impression he was defending Islam. A reporter from Univision, the Spanish channel, was leaning down in front of a banner taped to the pavement. She was speaking in to a microphone and describing the scenario to the camera. I recognized the word "ciudad."
My father and I walked in and around the site for about an hour. The wire fences that line the grass throughout the park are also covered in flyers and signs and banners and cards. Even the tree-trunks are covered. I saw a child's card that had a crude drawing of the World Trade Center in flames, with people jumping out of the windows and fire-fighters on ladders. It had the word SORRY written vertically down the side of the drawing. Each letter had words coming off of the side. For instance, the S had the word SADNESS, and one of the R's had the words RUNNING AND CRYING. Someone had put a life-size cardboard cut out of John Wayne in full cowboy gear standing behind a park bench. He had a "Wanted Dead or Alive" poster of Osama Bin Laden pasted to his chest. Someone had scribbled "This is no time for cowboys!" on his 10-gallon hat.
Though there were lots of anti-Arab messages on flyers and posters, the overwhelming majority of messages were calling for peace. Someone had written out the lyrics to "The Call Up", one of my favorite Clash songs. It's one of the most straight-forward anti-draft songs ever written. My favorite line goes:
"There is a rose that I want to live for
Although, God knows, I may not have met her
There is a dance and I should be with her
There is a town - unlike any other"
We left the park and caught the 4 down to Bowling Green Station to get a look at "Ground Zero", which had become more accessible that morning. As the train rolled through the Wall Street station, which is completely closed and coated in dust even underground, you can begin to smell decaying bodies. Everyone on the train squinted and pulled their shirts up over their noses.
Security was much much tighter down there. Battery Park was fenced off. A huge military camp of tents and jeeps filled the North end of the park. There were soldiers everywhere.
Barricades prevented us from walking west at all, so we headed up Broadway, which is lined by metal barricades on both sides. Police and National Guardsmen were checking IDs at any entrance inside the perimeter. The air was noticeably more ashy. As we walked up Broadway, we started to notice more and more ash on the ground. It rained last week, which must have washed much of it away, yet a lot still remained. Corporate gardens, with their marble planting boxes at the edge of the sidewalk, were often filled up with ash, covering most of the ivy altogether.
The air got thicker and dustier as we approached the site. The sidewalks got more crowded and we started to see more evidence of the blast: thicker piles of ash on the windowsills and lots of broken or newly replaced windows. The chalky taste in my mouth and throat was becoming unbearable. We walked past a Chase Bank that was still closed. Seemingly, only one of the upper windows facing the sidewalk had broken in the blast, yet the entire bank was coated in two inches of ash. Computers. Half-full coffee mugs. Briefcases. It looked like a haunted house; like that scene in "The Shining" where the hotel lobby is all of a sudden filled with cobwebs. It was very eerie.
I saw a large crowd on a sidewalk ahead and I knew this must be the first real viewing spot.
As the wreckage came in to view I literally covered my mouth in an astonished gasp. The scale of the destruction was unbelievable. We were a block away just on the other side of Trinity church. Amazingly enough, the church seems virtually unscathed while the 5-square block pile of rubble sits at its' feet. I really can't describe it. Again, it's the kind of scale that you've only seen in computer generated films. It was really hard to believe. The rubble itself was also surprisingly not nearly as tall as I had expected. It seems to only be 15 or 20 stories max, aside from the large skeletal strips of steel which stick up out of the ground. They say that the wreckage drove itself 7 stories down in to the ground. I could see the remnants of the World Financial Center in the background, blocks and blocks in the distance. Most of it has collapsed except for the outer shell of the atrium which faced the river (I once DJ'd a party there for VIBE's third anniversary. There was about 2000 people there. They had a huge ice sculpture of the VIBE logo. The event was black tie but I wore a silver and black "HUSTLER" football jersey cuz I'm a THUG like that). The rubble was still violently spewing out smoke. Cranes and bull dozers moved in the background. A lone fireman in a cherry-picker sprayed a long stream of water at one heap of smoldering debris.
My father and I continued up Broadway, stopping at each gap in the buildings that revealed more carnage. We turned left on Chambers Street and walked west past my friend Melinda's apartment. The FBI banged on her door and evacuated her in the middle of the catastrophe. I told my father I had friend who barely made it out of there. The dust in our throats had become too much, so we headed up to Odeon for some much needed beer and reflection.
I love you both very much and we really need to have a drink together sometime in the near future.
-     THE VERY LONG STORY OF HOW I BECAME A DJ
This is a very long winded account of just about every thing that ever happened in the last 18 years which contributed to my efforts to become a DJ. I'm not sure why anyone would want to read it, honestly, but I feel compelled to write it down. I think I just want to get it all down while I still remember it, if only to have some sort of record of my experiences. How I got from there to here.
I think I may just keep adding to it as memories surface.
Perhaps some of it will be relevant to somebody, somewhere. Maybe someone with a similar dream of being a DJ. Maybe even you.
The first 12"I ever bought was Just Ice's "Latoya" (Fresh Records 1986). This was the very first piece to the puzzle.
I had no idea how to DJ, nor did I have any equipment other than a cheezy Sanyo belt-driven turntable, but I knew that one day, some day, I wanted to be a DJ.
I'm not sure where I even got the idea to be a DJ. At the time, I was mostly in to hardcore punk and a bit of heavy metal. Big Misfits fan. Metallica. Poison Idea. Minor Threat. Negative Approach. Etc. I sang for a Hard core band named Sluggo and I published my own fanzine. So black music was barely even on my radar. I guess I started to get bored with hardcore. It felt like it had lost its edge. Too many doofus kids at my school were walking through the halls carrying Clash albums, and there were even punk rockers on Quincy for god's sake. Lee Ving from FEAR guest starring on CHIPS may have been the last straw. I'm not sure. I suppose I was looking for two things: 1) Music that scared the shit out of most people and 2) Music that most people I knew would hate.
I suppose my inspiration for wanting to be a DJ came from Jam Master Jay (RIP) and Mix Master Ike. Jam Master Jay was all over MTV, and he seemed like a cool fucking dude. Mix Master Ike was the only DJ in my high school. He was more goofy than he was cool but he was a DJ. He started throwing parties and performing at school talent shows with his crew around 1986. I used to stand off to the side and just watch with amazement, hoping that one day I could do what he did.
I had been slowly getting in to Hip Hop since 1985 or so. Mostly from what little exposure it got on MTV and BET. Run DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J, etc. I suppose I did like Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash when I heard them at the local skating rink in the late 70s, but I didn't really connect with it at the time. ACDC and Rick James were more my speed at the time.
One day in 1985, my good friend Neil Aquino appeared on my doorstep. He had just walked 3 miles from his house to share with me his new LPs, Run DMC's "King of Rock" and the Fat Boys first album. "Julian, my friend" he declared "These are the two of the finest albums you will ever hear, and you have to tape them right now!" And so it began.
There was only one record store in Cincinnati that specialized in dance 12"s. Can't remember the name of it, but it was up on Vine Street near the University, next to a Gold Star Chili. I would go in there to browse, but I had no idea what to buy, as there was very little hip hop being played on the radio and I didn't know one other person who liked it besides Neil. Occasionally I would just randomly buy records, strictly on a hunch. I knew "Fresh" was a hip hop word, so I bought "Fresh Is the Word" by Mantronik. I knew "posse" was a hip hop word, so I bought some record by Mikey D & The L.A. Posse. It was very hit or miss. This is how I ended up with that Just Ice record, because the label was called Fresh Records, so I figured it must be good. As you can imagine, I soon discovered there was no direct correlation between the title of a song and how good it was. Oh well.
I started practicing scratching in my bedroom at night with the handful of records I had acquired. I sucked. I sucked big time. I even tried making mix tapes with my cassette deck, before I even knew what a "pause tape" was. I also had this weird dual cassette deck. For some reason, it only had one record head, so when you recorded on to a cassette that already had music on it, it simply overdubbed on top, like a double exposed negative in a camera. I would record a beat, then rewind and record scratches on top of the beat. Problem was, you couldn't monitor what was already on the tape, so you just kind of had to guess where the beat was and hope it came out great. It never did. It came out absolutely awful. Still, I used to do this for hours and hours, as I simply didn't know any better, and I was too shy to go up to Mixmaster Ike and ask him to teach me.
After I graduated high school, I decided I had to move to New York so that I could become a world famous Hip Hop DJ. As luck would have it, the only art school that accepted me was Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. The only thing cooler and more Hip Hop than New York City was Brooklyn, so off I went.
Pratt was located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn - a beautiful tree-lined section of Brooklyn that had been a black middle class enclave of sorts since before the turn of the century. This was 1987, and the city was reaching the peak of the crack epidemic. Drug dealing had taken its toll on the neighborhood. Some streets remained beautiful stretches of Brownstones, while others were littered with dilapidated tenements, with crack heads and hookers in plain sight. Some of the city's more notorious housing projects bordered the neighborhood on all sides. Crack vials filled every crack of every sidewalk on every block. Street battles were being waged nightly on Fulton and Myrtle. Drug dealers fighting over turf. Robberies. Murders. The rattle of automatic weapon fire was commonplace after sundown, with Uzis and 9mms handguns the weapons of choice. Yet during the day, it was still sort of a great place to live.
Kind of an odd place for an art school filled with predominantly white, well-to-do kids, that's for sure, but there we were anyway. Most of the students came straight from the burbs, and most had no clue how to navigate an urban environment. Muggings were rampant. A freshman was shot in the face and killed in September. The murder happened 30 feet from the main gate. The post headline read: "Slain Student Not In Arkansas Anymore" or something clever like that. She was from Arkansas and had been in NY less than a week. Dudes used to line up and to take turns mugging Pratt students outside the neighborhood's only ATM. One guy was famous for his skill at concealing a sawed off shotgun. A friend of mine was shot point black because he forgot about a crumpled up $20 bill he had in his pocket. Shit was mad real, son! As for me, I escaped pretty much unscathed. Got chased a few times, and robbed on the train once, but overall I was OK. I had grown up getting chased by kids for my bike or my skateboard or whatever, so I already had a sixth sense about such things, and a prerequisite 2 block stare in all directions to spot incoming hoods.
Despite all that drama, Brooklyn was everything a young aspiring DJ had hoped it would be. Fulton Mall had a handful of record stores with all the latest jams. NY radio was alive every Friday and Saturday night with live mix shows from Chuck Chillout, Mr. Magic, and Red Alert. I started taping radio shows religiously, especially Red Alert.
This was right around the time Public Enemy was breaking. I had listened to "Public Enemy #1", their first single, about 1000 times that summer. I think the first PE 12" I bought on vinyl was "Rebel w/o a Pause". I distinctly remember sitting in my dorm room one day, blasting that track, and having my Resident Advisor storm in to my room screeching "THIS IS THE WORST POSSIBLE SOUND I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE!!!"
"Eureka!" I thought. Finally I had found the music that average Joes hated even more than punk rock. Surely I was on to something.
I didn't get my hands on real turntables until my second year of college. The school had a makeshift AM radio station with equipment from the late 1960s. I signed up for a radio show as soon as I could, under the moniker DJ Mixx Fixx. I had amassed about one crate of records by that time; a mix of hip hop, dancehall reggae, P-Funk, Go-go, and James Brown. Funny thing was, I had been listening to Hip Hop DJs so much that I thought I had pretty much figured it all out. All I needed was access to equipment and I would be GREAT. You can imagine how wrong I was. I remember proudly marching in to the radio station for my first show. My big lead off was going to be a spellbinding blend of Zapp's "More Bounce To The Ounce" and EPMD's "You Gots To Chill". I knew the latter sampled the former, so surely this would be an easy blend. I had no idea that pitch control even existed, or any notion that a sample might not be kept at its original tempo. This was all moot, as the 1963 radio station turntables didn't even have pitch control to begin with. I set it off with the Zapp record. I soon let the EPMD disk fly. WTF is that galloping sound? Why does this mix sound so incredibly WACK?? Oh shit, I'M ON THE AIR! My first train wreck. Egads! So embarrassing. I realized I had A LOT to learn. Little did I know just how much.
Despite my disastrous debut, I kept doing the radio show; putting blending on the backburner for the time being. A friend of mine offered me a work study job on the school Tech Crew (basically, the fucking AV squad from high school all grows up). They did sound for all the school events: lectures, comedy nights, and DJ parties. They had a really sweet Bose sound system and 1200s and the whole nine. So I all of a sudden found myself with easy access to real equipment. I started practicing like mad. Within a few months I was borrowing the school's sound system for huge blow out parties in my dorm room. The theme for the parties was "FREE JAMES BROWN", as he was doing time for almost killing a guy that used his private bathroom. I was playing all sorts of shit. Trouble Funk's "Pump Me Up". Salt N Pepa's "Shake Yo Thang". Parliament's "Aqua Boogie". Funkadelic's "Knee Deep". Audio 2. De La Soul. Public Enemy. Classic rock like Hendrix's "Third Stone From the Sun" and Janis Joplin's "Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)". Lots of Shabba Ranks, Admiral Bailey, Supercat, and other late 80s dancehall. Bob Marley. Whatever. The crowd was very mixed, and everybody was incredibly drunk, so they were open to just about anything. The parties were a huge success and my roommate and I soon moved them off campus, sneaking the sound system out at night and setting up in neighboring brownstones and backyards in Fort Greene & Bed Stuy.
As a result of the Free James Brown parties, I built a little rep for myself and I started meeting the other DJs on campus. There were about 4 or 5 of us. We started getting together to practice scratching and blending and other tricks of the trade. Everybody was in to Hip Hop, R and B, Reggae, and house. You really couldn't DJ in Brooklyn without repping all four. My boy K-Groove turned me on to house music. He was from Bridgeport and had been DJing since high school. He would play me Marshall Jefferson and Joe Smooth and whatever other Chicago house he was buying. We started doing parties together here and there for the Black Student Union and the West Indian Student club, and other school functions.
It was around this time, 1989 or so that I started collecting records. I had an old friend from high school, Valentine, who was really in to funk and soul and a collector too. He started sending me cassette tapes compilations of P-Funk and Zapp and Stevie Wonder and The Ohio Players and whatever. I started digging around the local stoop sales and finding tons of great records. This was before digging was really a phenomenon, so you never paid more than $10 for anything. Usually less. I also started hanging around this used record store on Myrtle Ave. called B-Side Music. I struck a deal with Estefano, the owner, in which I would do his graphics and he would pay me in used vinyl. He turned me on to a lot of old breaks and all kinds of interesting shit. At the same time the other Pratt DJs and I were constantly hanging out and expanding our knowledge in all genres of black music.
During the summer of 1990 I hooked up with some other students to form a rap group, Trigga Happy. We were on some straight up gangsta type, gun lyrics. The group consisted of me, Tec 9, Kas Nice, and Smooth Germ. Tec 9's real name was Kelly Glusovitch, the half-black half-Serbian son of a well known 60s Jazz singer named Terri Thornton. Kas Nice's real name was Mateo Mulcare. He was a huge kid from St. Thomas who basically scared the shit out of white people. His name was originally an acronym for Krushing All Suckas, which suited his 6'2", 275 build just fine. Then he changed it to Kas Is Nice, which later got shortened to Kas Nice. Hanging out with him was a real eye-opener for me, as you would literally see white people cross the street to avoid being in his path. Smooth Germ was a crazy-ass buckwild kid from Crown Heights. His name was Jermel and he was the first cat I ever knew to use that "shiznit" type of speech. This was about 5 years before Snoop Dog even appeared, mind you. He put an "IZ" in the middle of almost every word. Basically, he was just bugged the fuck out. I was the DJ and also the producer, since I had access to not only a kick-ass mobile sound system, but also a sampler and a 4-track cassette recorder that the radio station owned.
I had been going by the name DJ Mixx Fixx since sophomore year, but I was looking for something more original. One day I was at the corner bodega and I got the bonehead idea of calling myself FRUITPIE THE MAGICIAN, after the animated spokesman for Hostess fruitpies. In our next Trigga Happy studio session, I boldly declared my name change, mostly as a joke. I was trying to get a reaction from my boys, thinking that they would not stand for such a gay fucking name in such a gangsta fucking rap group. This plan backfired, big time. They thought the name was so hilarious that they INSISTED I keep it. Oops. Not only did this name stick with me for the next four years, but I also quickly discovered that absolutely NOBODY got the Hostess Fruitpie reference. I might as well have called myself DJ FAGGOT, for all intents and purposes. Oh well. I had a sense of humor, I suppose, so I lived with it. To this day, every time I see Bobbito Garcia he yells out "FRUITPIE!".
We put some demos together and started trying to get gigs and get noticed. We did some local parties, and amateur night in Queens, and a handful of memorable gigs in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The first was opening up for KRS One at Wetlands, a Manhattan nightclub that I was actually working for as a busboy. The gig was a party that KRS' brother ICU was throwing. ICU was a cool dude. Pretty fucking crazy, but a nice guy. He always hung around this real tall guy named Tree. They were permanent fixtures at every downtown reggae or hip hop party. We used to call them "ICU and Tree Get In Free" because they never wanted to pay there way in to anything. Kas got us the gig, as he knew KRS from spitting a verse with him on another rapper's track (this up and coming dude named Larry-O, from the Bronx). Kas had also built a solid street rep in Brooklyn, battling kids on corners and in ciphers throughout the borough. The gig went great, and we were immediately approached afterwards by some strange character named Jerome, who offered to manage Trigga Happy. He was really loud and aggressive, dressed kind of like a pimp, and had a demeanor that was not unlike some kind of gangster. He took Kelly's number and told us he'd be in touch. We all thought "Wow. It's really happening! We're gonna be superstars!"
A couple of days later, Jerome calls Kelly and requests a meeting at his office in East New York. Kelly takes the train way out to the middle of nowhere and ends up at the address given, in some weird run down storefront space that, according to Kelly, looked more like a hideout than a place of business. There is nobody there but Jerome. He escorts Kelly back in to his office, which is almost pitch black except for a few scented candles. This is in the middle of the day, mind you. He tells Kelly that, lo and behold, he had already procured us a gig. A gig at The Palladium no less, for the following Thursday. "THE PALLADIUM? You gotta be kidding!" Kelly blurted out. Jerome insisted it was true, but then added that all the details were top secret, and we should just show up at 3pm. The top secret thing was a bit odd, but whatever. Who's going to turn down a gig at the freaking Palladium?
Then things took a turn for the strange. Jerome hands Kelly a tube of skin lotion and insists that he rub some on his hands. Kelly is like WTF, but didn't want to offend our new manager who seemed quite adamant about the use of hand lotion. So Kelly starts lubing up as Jerome starts asking him all kinds of weird questions about how often he works out and what his girlfriend is like. You can see where this is going. Kelly gets all freaked out and promptly makes up an excuse for having to leave. He leaps up and practically runs out the door. Jerome seemed annoyed, but let him go, reminding him tat we are to show up at the Palladium at 3pm on Thursday.
Kelly relayed the story upon his return. It was so weird, we really didn't know what to think, yet the gig sounded incredible, so we agreed to show up and see what happened.
We arrive at the Palladium that Saturday, not knowing what to expect. All we knew was that 3pm was a really weird time for a Hip Hop show. Then we saw the marquee. It read: Special benefit performance:
The Secret Garden
Special guest Vice President Dan Quayle
Dan Quayle? The Secret Garden? Spiderman? WTF? We get inside and find Jerome. It was soon revealed to us that the event was a free show for homeless kids from New York City shelters. Dan Quayle was the guest speaker, which was the reason for all the secrecy. The FBI had dogs and bomb teams sweeping the entire club. There were people and dogs running around everywhere. It was chaos. We were dumbfounded. I guess we were thrilled to be performing with Run DMC and Whodini. But Spiderman? The Secret Garden. It was all too weird.
They showed us the schedule. There were a few other no-name acts like us. We were going on 3rd, right after Spiderman. Jerome then casually points out that, since this is a show for kids, we cannot curse or mention guns of any kind. Huh? Cursing and guns was pretty much our whole act. WTF! We were in a panic. We ran in to Lord Finesse and asked him if he had been given the same restrictions. "Ahh yeah, man, my manager told me weeks ago. My show is tight. No cursing or none of that mess". He seemed quite relaxed. We felt like idiots.
We huddled together in a panic trying to do a last minute re-write of the lyrics as packs of wild-ass homeless kids started filing in. These kids were out of control. They ranged in age from 5 to about 15. As soon as they got inside, they started running around, hooting and hollering like crazy and badly in need of some Ritalin. Clearly, these kids didn't get out much. To make matters worse, the event was sponsored by Skittles candy, so there were gigantic oil drums filled with Skittles every 30 feet, and kids were practically diving in face first.
The show begins with a long speech by some city politician. Dan Quayle hadn't shown up yet. The kids were loud as hell, running around like mad and paying almost no attention to their guardians or the people on the stage. Then some R and B act goes on. The kids feigned interest for a moment, then quickly returned to their former unruly state. Then a rap group performed, and got a slightly better reception. We were next.
As we were walking towards the stage, the stage manager blocks our path and tells us they are behind schedule and we're being bumped until later. WTF?
Lord Finesse goes on and gets a warm reception. Third Base is next, and they turned it out. Next is a guy in a Spiderman costume. He comes out on stage and just stands there making Spidey-like motions as a recording tells the story of Spiderman. It was really bizarre. He was standing in place, kind of crouching, pretending to be shooting webs up in to the air. He kind of out of shape and the costume was a bit baggy. He looked like a really shitty mime. It was pathetic. The kids booed him. Harsh. Then Whodini comes out and rocks it. I had never seen them live, so I was loving it. The kids went crazy. Yet it was getting later and later. We kept bugging the stage manager about going on and he kept telling us to sit tight and wait. He was also being pretty damn rude about it.
Then they announce a special performance by some kid from the Broadway musical "The Secret Garden". This little 10 year old white boy comes out dressed like a little fancy lad. With a big ribbon around his neck. By this time, the kids in the audience were just and angry Skittle-fueled mob. As soon as one high note from this kid's sweet voice filled the air, it started raining Skittles. Half the audience was booing loudly and the other half were beaning him square in the head with a barrage of colored candy. It was fucking HILARIOUS. For the first verse or two, he kept his composure, trying to sing his heart out while Skittles kept bouncing off his face and body. He looked really scared and he was about to cry. We were all on the floor laughing. It was wonderful. He cut his song short after the second chorus and ran off stage in a relentless hail of boos and Skittles. Wow.
Dan Quayle was a no-show, and it was getting late, so by this time we were getting really nervous that we were just gonna get completely dissed and not perform at all. We kept bugging the stage manager, who was getting more and more annoyed with me. Run DMC goes on and kills it. They had the kids jumping up and down, singing all the lyrics. It was hot. They do about five songs and they're done. The stage manager tells us we've got 10 minutes.
This was it. Our big moment. I was to the right of the stage, running the DAT player from the soundboard. My boys took the stage and started doing their thing. I don't know if it was us, or if the crowd was still so hyped from Run DMC, but they were really in to it. It was amazing. We finish one song and go right in to the next. Everything's perfect. Yet the soundman kept getting orders on his walkie talkie to cut the show, because they were out of time. There was all sorts of walkie talkie chatter about time being up, and union rules, and the banter was starting to get heated. I was pleading with the soundman to let us complete our three songs. He's had enough and he tells me he's pulling the plug any second. We were just starting the third song and the crowd was with us. The soundman finally says "screw this!" and kills the soundboard. Immediate silence. My crew is left standing on stage, looking like idiots. The kids start booing. The Skittles were surely next. KAS looks over and yells "WHAT THE FUCK, DUKE?!" He goes crazy and throws his microphone to the ground, smashing it to pieces. The sound guys freak out. KAS starts rushing over to the soundboard, looking like he's gonna give the soundman a beating, which I'm pretty sure he was. As I mentioned before, Kas was a big mother fucker. Dude like him starts running at you, you better get to stepping. The soundman does just that, trying to get out from behind the board while he's yelling "SECURITY! SECURITY!" Now it's a full on incident. Bouncers and FBI agents come running from all sides and everyone is yelling. Kas is all up in everybody's face and the three of us are trying to restrain him. We were all about to catch a serious beatdown from the sound guys, the bouncers, and maybe even the FBI. Probably get arrested to. From the corner of my eye I notice an EXIT sign 15 feet away. We rush Kas to the exit, which leads to a fire escape on Thirteenth street. We all go barreling down the stairs with the bouncers close behind. We reach the street and the bouncers get called back. "You fuckers come in here ever again and you're fucking DEAD!" Okay then. Jerome stopped calling after that.
We spent the rest of the year making demos and trying to get a record deal but nothing was happening. We did one more gig in Bushwick Park, that was even more of a disaster and more of a life threatening situation than The Palladium, but that is a long story. Maybe I'll post it in the future. Eventually the group fizzled and we went our separate ways. KAS went on to ghost write for other rappers before he started a car magazine called PLUSH. Tec 9 had 4 kids and became a school teacher. I ran in to Smooth Germ on the street this year and he was working some kind of 9 to 5.
During all of this time I was going to school and working a few nights a week as a busboy at Wetlands. I slowly weasled my way in to a few last minute DJ gigs there, thanks to Walter Durkacz, who booked the club. Walter was an old school DJ from the Danceteria days in NYC. He had a vast knowledge of music and he was kind enough to give my first big break, the opening set for Brand Nubian's first Manhattan show. Brand Nubian, at the time, were RUNNING the streets in NY, so this was an incredible opportunity. I set up on stage and had just about every famous DJ in the Hip Hop staring me down as I played. Clark Kent and DJ Scratch stood 2 feet in front of me, arms folded, frowning silently. The pressure was fucking intense, but I made it through. After the opening act, I got back on and played Kenny Dope's "Blood Vibes" which was my new shit and pretty much thee brand new underground tune of the moment. Clark Kent came running up to me from the other side of the club and yelled "that was the PERFECT record for you to play right now, B!! You KILLIN' EM!!" After that he stopped frowning and is mad cool with me to this day. I also remember doing a blend of the dub from JVC Force's "Strong Island" and the stripped down version of Eric B and Rakim's "The Ghetto". I had practiced it at home, so the both choruses lined up perfectly. This way, one record would say "Strong Island", then Rakim would answer "nobody's smilin'". I really felt like I had accomplished something that night: going from a complete nobody, know-nothing, white kid in Cincinnati to opening up for Brand Nubian in New York City, the Mecca of Hip Hop. I gotta say, it felt fucking great.
Meanwhile, the parties in Brooklyn were going so well that we decided to try our hand at doing them in Manhattan. We found a club, Bar Room 432, that offered us a trial Thursday night thanks to a mutual friend. The club was a divey joint in the Meat Packing district, which was pretty much deserted at night in those days, except for a handful of gay clubs. It was best known for a party called Jackie 60, which was full of trannies, like the neighborhood. The party got off to a great start and I started inviting other bigger name DJs to play with me. People like Goldfinger, a mix-tape DJ from Brooklyn, and Rob Kenner, a white dancehall DJ from Chicago with a downtown following of reggae heads. The parties fizzled out in less than a year, but I learned a lot about promoting, and I finally felt really comfortable DJing for any kind of crowd.
A bouncer at Wetlands hired me to DJ Saturday nights, playing house, at his new after hours club, Japan. I barely knew anything about house besides Soho's "Hot Music", Ce Ce Peniston, Ceybil, and the old Chicago stuff we used to play at Pratt. I started going to Vinylmania on Carmine St. in Manhattan and buying as much house as I could afford. Bobby Konders' "the Poem" was the Brooklyn house anthem at the time, so that was the sort of sound I started digging for. Dubby. Instrumental. Not a lot of vocals.
The club itself was a seedy, coke-infested den of sin run by my bouncer friend and his partners, some gangsters from the Brooklyn Jewish mob. We opened at 3am and closed around 10am on Sundays. The crowd was a bizarre mix of gay boys, trannies, strippers, hookers and drug dealers. Despite the mob paying off the local cops as much as possible, the club still got raided at least once a month. This was right after the Happyland Social club fire, so the city was really cracking down. There was a small table lamp next to the turntables. When the lamp illuminated, the DJ knew the cops were rushing the door upstairs. I had about 8 seconds to rip off the dance record that was playing and put on some slow jam, bringing the dance floor to a screeching halt. The Bartenders had the same amount of time to dump their one bottle of vodka down the drain, grab the cash out of the drawer, and leap out from behind the bar, blending in with the crowd. They only had one bottle of vodka because vodka was all they served. They charged $10 for a screwdriver. The whole bottle of vodka cost $6.99, so they were making a killing. The club would keep a case of vodka in the trunk of a car parked down the block, and an empty 2 liter soda bottle behind the bar. The barback would take the empty soda bottle down the street and fill it up in the trunk of the car. This way, there was only ever one bottle of liquor in the club. The cops would rush down the stairs to find a club full of people standing around listening to slow jams, with no drinks being served, no dancing, and virtually no employees other than the bouncers and me, the DJ. For some reason the cops always let me walk, while the bouncers got arrested.
The other DJs who played Thursdays and Fridays were way out of my league. Mark Kamins, an old school 80s vet, and Keoki, the superstar house DJ from Limelight. Somehow I managed to keep up and learn what I could listening to them spin. This place was not only my first introduction to seedy after hours clubs and the house music they played, but also my first real introduction to what NYers call "disco classics". The owner's brother had been a DJ in the 80s, and he kept a crate of dusty old classics in the closet that he would drag out for me to play with. When he wasn't doing blow in the bathroom with strippers, he was sitting in the booth with me, handing me Cerrone records and Lime records and Roy Ayers records. This is when I first came to realize that disco had never really died. Living in the Midwest, it was easy to think otherwise. The "Disco Sucks" movement, that culminated in the blowing up of thousands of disco records in Chicago's Cominsky Park in 1979, seemed to mark the official end of disco. And even though there were plenty of R and B groups making uptempo songs in the 80s, long after disco's official demise, a lot of that ever really got much radio play where I lived. Thanks to my exposure to some of these records at Japan, I started gradually expanding my collection. More pieces to the puzzle...
Meanwhile, Wetlands was a great place to work. Once I got bumped up to bartender I started meeting a lot of other DJs and local promoters and I really got to know the whole downtown scene a bit better. They were hosting a Monday party called "Soul Kitchen", which was pretty much the best party in the city at the time. It had started at Brothers BBQ on Downing street, then moved around to a few clubs before settling in at Wetlands. It was full of hot chicks and cool celebrities and tons of DJs and MCs. I got a little too liberal with giving away free drinks to every rapper on earth, so they fired me. This was in the Spring of 1991.
I got a new bartending job at Sybarite, a cool, underground club that had just opened on Wooster Street in Soho. The building was owned by two Italian gangsters in the garbage business. They would come by occasionally with their mistresses, and we'd all have to make nice and stay open as late as they wanted. I began to understand that, despite being out of the headlines most of the time, the mafia still had their hand in most of NYC's nightlife in one way or another. Real estate. Liquor. Garbage. Paying off the cops. Whatever. Any place there was room for corruption, you will find the mafia.
As luck would have it, Sybarite soon became host for a lot of cool downtown parties like Giant Step, Sugar Shack, and Vodu 155. I started DJing there on occasion, first as a last-minute replacement, and later in regular rotation on the schedule. This is where I first met DJ Jules, who I would later DJ with for years and years. One of the bouncers, Thiam, took a liking to my skills and was kind enough to get me a DJ gig at Lucky Strike, a neighborhood restaurant/bar that was a downtown staple and all-around great hang-out spot. The Lucky Strike gig lead to more and more restaurant and club gigs in Manhattan. Slowly, my DJ career was starting to take shape.
The people whom I met at both Sybarite and Lucky Strike turned out to be the same people I would run in to in the downtown scene for years to come. Bouncers, bartenders, promoters, DJs, scenesters and you name it. Everyone came through these two places, and everyone always made sure they knew the DJ.
After Sybarite got closed by the city, I decided to try my hand at a day job. The night life was starting to wear on me a bit. Between DJing, bartending, and drinking excessively in bars and after hours clubs on my off nights, I barely saw any daylight whatsoever. My good friend Spange told me she could get me an internship at Chung King studios, where she worked. Chung King was a recording studio on Centre street that had been rightfully dubbed "the Abbey Road of Hip Hop". Almost every great Def Jam record ever made was recorded there, as well as tons and tons of other music. I was thrilled. My boss was John King, probably the closest thing to Kevin Spacey's character in "Swimming With Sharks" that you can imagine. Totally fucking crazy and constantly screaming at everyone within earshot. Yet, despite all the yelling, I learned so many real, fundamental life lessons from this man. He was intensely smart and a ruthless business man. On top of that, I got to hang out with Wu-Tang Clan and Onyx and Leaders of the New School and Redman and Diamond D and Showbiz and Black Sheep and just about every other East Coast rapper you can think of.
Of all the groups that came through Chung King, Wu Tang was by far the most entertaining. This was a year or so after their debut album, so each of them was in the process of recording his solo record. I think Meth went first, then ODB. Whether all of Wu Tang showed up, or just one of them, they never arrived without an entourage of less than fifteen people. And not just fifteen normal people, mind you. Fifteen crazy fucking gangster kids from Staten Island. ODB and his whole crew were just a fucking train wreck. His manager was Buddha Monk, a loud, fat, obnoxious, just-don't-give-a-fuck type kid from Brooklyn. He liked to eat. He liked to eat A LOT. He would order 5 pizzas for his whole crew, and when they arrived he would grab the first one and spit all over the pizza, so that nobody else would want a slice. Charming, really. They used to order chicken wings from Pluck U on Third street, then send their boys down to the lobby to rob the delivery man when he showed up. After the second time, Pluck U stopped delivering altogether. ODB was the craziest of all. He was usually drunk or dusted or both and was just totally fucking insane. He was fond of threatening producers and engineers and other rappers in the studio. One night he was recording a guest verse on LL Cool J's "I Shot Ya" Since he was crazy, and an egomaniac, he got all offended that LL hadn't show up for the session. He got really belligerent and insisted that the engineer erase LL's vocals entirely, so that he could record the whole song from scratch. The Producer, one of the Trackmasterz, tried to reason with him for about an hour. ODB just kept telling him he was gonnna kick his ass if he didn't erase the track. Eventually, the producer was like "fuck this noise, I'm outta here!" and walked. The engineer, fearing for his life, pretended to erase the tape and recorded ODB on a new track. ODB proceeded to rant incoherently for about 30 minutes. How I wish I would have saved that recording. Talk about priceless. It was like the angel dust-induced ghetto version of Jim Morrison's "American Prayer". After he was done, he ran out in to the lobby and started ripping LL's gold albums off the wall, throwing them to the ground, and spiting on them. The entire staff literally hid in the office with the door locked until his tantrum subsided and he left the building. This was a normal ODB evening.momg.
Working at Chung King, I learned a great deal about the music industry. Most of important of which was just how awful and ruthless it is. I watched group after group pour their hearts in to their entire album, only to have it shelved, and their careers forever frozen in contract limbo. For so many of these kids, rapping or singing was pretty much their one shot at a a decent life. Their one ticket out of poverty. And to see their dreams built up so high and then smashed to bits, simply for some record label's tax break, was really heartbreaking. This happened more times than I can count. It really made me realize that the record label career I had been considering for a moment was definitely the wrong path. The music business has very little to do with music, and everything to do with business.
While working at Chung King, I ran it to Lionel Bernard and his brother Constant. They were the two Haitian brothers from Brooklyn who had thrown the Vodu 155 parties at Sybarite. They had just recently started their party up again on Bond Street, and they were looking for another DJ. The party was a great mix of Haitians, other West Indians, and a smattering of downtown hipsters. The DJs were playing Hip Hop and Reggae and little bit of Haitian Ra Ra. They'd often bring in Haitian drummers for live performances and Lionel's mother would cook traditional food for each event. The party was an underground success and it managed to get me the attention of a few other promoters including Thiam, my bouncer friend from Sybarite a few years earlier. Thiam was now doing a party at Rebar on Sunday nights called "Soul Sunday Lounge" and he asked me to come by and check it out.
The DJ for Soul Sunday Lounge was my boy Jules, who I also knew from the Sybarite days. I really liked the party, so I started hanging around the DJ booth every week, giving Jules breaks from time to time. We really hit it off, and eventually he was kind enough to put me on as a partner. The party moved around a bit, eventually settling at Don Hill's on Greenwich Street. The party quickly became one of the best Hip Hop nights in the city, and I was finally in a great position to showcase my skills and build a rep among the downtown clubbing elite. Every week was packed with downtown scenesters, breakers, skaters, actors, DJs, rappers, and night owls of all flavors. Jules and I were breaking new records every week, and the crowd was totally open to just about anything.
Jules had amazing taste in music, and one of the greatest record collections I've ever seen. He turned me on to so much music I wouldn't even know where to begin. His selections betrayed a true love of great music, and he was not afraid to take chances and bring the crowd up to his own vibe. He also taught me what I consider to be the single most important DJ lesson of all time: PLAY FOR THE WOMEN. Get the women on the dance floor, and everything else will work itself out. This is essential to being a great DJ in my opinion.
The big tunes at Rebar were stuff like Biggie Smalls' "Dreams", Brand Nubian's "Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down", Grand Puba's "Check It Out", Method Man's "Bring The Pain", Buju's "Walk Like a Champion" and Shabba Ranks' "Respect". Jules would always throw in some curve balls like Shirley Bassey's cover of "Light My Fire", Womac and Womack's "Baby I'm Scared of You", or War's "Flying Machine". Stuff that other Hip Hop DJs simply would not play. In the Don Hills' days, some signature tunes were Smif n Wessun's "Sound Bwoy Burial", Grand Puba's "I Like It", Mary J Blige's "Be Happy", Tracey Lee's "The Theme", Busta's "Woo-Hah!", and Capelton's "Wings of the Morning"
There was a really thriving scene downtown in those days. A large extended family of promoters and DJs and parties that all fed off of each other. Parties like Sheets-n-Pillows, Soul Kitchen, Blow Pop, Giant Step, Bell Cafe, etc. DJs like Jules, Hiro, Stretch Armstrong, Jazzy Nice, Nastee, Cosi, Mateo Ruzon, Kaori, Chillfreez, Stormin Norman, Frankie Inglese, Mighty Mi, Nicodemus, Camelo, Derick Corley, Qool Marv, Eric Lapeau, Jeff Brown, Belinda, Greg Poole, Frank Delour, a young Mark Ronson, and a bunch of cats I know I'm forgetting. Everybody knew everybody, and many of the DJs went to each other's parties when they weren't DJing themselves. I suppose there was a some competition and hateration here and there, but that was mostly between promoters. As DJs, we were all cool with each other. We had a fucking ball, and everybody made a little bit of money in the process. Some folks, like Mark Ronson in particular, made A LOT of money.
The Don Hills gig really put me on the map and, after that, I could DJ just about anywhere. I played at just about every club in Manhattan, did tons of fashion shows, restaurants, lounges, movie premieres, promotional events, Howard Stern's movie premiere at Madison Square Garden, all sorts of record release parties, corporate events, etc. etc. I was DJing about 4 nights a week and working days at EyeballNYC, doing graphics for television.
Jules hooked me up with Vibe Magazine, and I kind of became their house DJ, doing a lot of Vibe events all over the country and touring with them throughout the East coast. They even had me DJ Quincy Jones birthday party one year, which was an incredible honor. I played nothing but Quincy joints all night and I got him to sign my copy of "Walking In Space".
Towards the end of the 90s thing began to shift, at least from my perspective. Hip Hop, that was once something cool and underground and shunned by the big clubs, became WAY too popular. The parties that were once filled with people you'd actually want to hang out with were now getting over-run with street thugs, low-level gangsters, knucklehead bridge and tunnel types, and cheesy fucking celebrities. I'll never forget DJing at The Tunnel and watching some stupid white suburban kid standing on a speaker, with his crew of Jersey white boys, miming the lyrics to Tupac's "Hail Mary" like he was some kind of gansta. It was embarrassing. The genie was definitely out of the bottle. Hip Hop was now main stream, and the new Hip Hop generation was pretty fucking scary from where I stood.
We were all making more money, I suppose, but the parties and the crowds just started sucking. Jules' Monday night at Cheetah, which was thee party for years after Don Hills had fizzled, was now just a nightmare. The crowds were just getting angrier and angrier. Everybody wanted to be a thug, and nobody could afford the champagne Jay-Z had convinced them to buy, so they were angry, and fights became constant. Trifling chickenheads came out of the woodwork to drink champagne and things just started going downhill fast.
To make things worse, the whole champagne bottle service/VIP bullshit was just starting to catch on. If I had to blame one guy for this, it would be Steve Lewis, formerly the GM of The Limelight during their heyday. After Limelight closed, he became the GM of the new club LIFE, that opened on Bleecker Street in 1998. He was the first guy to pair VIP rooms with Hip Hop. Other promoters like Noel Ashman and Mark Rose were also doing this, but I recall Steve being the first. So he put Hip Hop DJs in the VIP room at Life. Mark Ronson did Fridays and I did Saturdays. The money was good, but the crowd was just fucking awful. It was 24/7 douche bags and the entourage they rode in with.
To add insult to injury, even the music started to suck. From the late 80s thru the mid-90s, being a Hip Hop DJ was great, because you never had to play a bad song. There was so much great music. And since Hip Hop was still not quite mainstream American pop culture, your crowd still had relatively good taste. Once Hip Hop became top 40, everything changed. Everything changed because the masses, in general, have lousy fucking taste. Yet it was the masses that were now dictating what song was popular, which is a recipe for disaster.
There was another factor worth mentioning, and that is the great schism between mainstream Hip Hop and indie Hip Hop, also known as "underground Hip Hop" or "backpacker Hip Hop". Prior to the late 90s, indie Hip Hop was not really even a separate genre. Indie Hip Hop was simply Hip Hop on an independent label that hadn't quite hit it big yet. Yet it always had that potential. And it had potential for club airplay because it was still dance music as Hip Hop had always been. Then along came Wu Tang Clan. I blame Wu Tang as the root cause of the great schism for two reasons:
1) They made totally weird, original music; with unorthodox flows that bordered on freeform conspiracy rants.
2) They really wore the term "underground" as a badge of honor. They bragged about it constantly.
None of those things are a bad thing, mind you, but it was their legions of inspired white boy followers that took those two elements to heart, whilst disregarding one of the founding principles of Hip Hop: IT'S PARTY MUSIC. At least it used to be.
Wu-Tang, however, struck the perfect balance. They made banging fucking tracks that were truly like nothing anyone had ever heard before. On the other hand, the kids that followed in their footsteps seemingly didn't care if anyone ever danced again. It seemed like their successors just wanted to find the craziest sample they could, and cram as many fucking words in to a sentence as possible, while bragging about being underground. My #1 example of this would be Company Flow. Maybe the schism is really their fault. They made some interesting shit, no doubt, but did anyone want to hear that shit in a club? Hells no! And from there, it was all downhill. If you wanted to stay in the bigger clubs, where women actually danced and DJs made decent money, you left the indie shit at home and you put the top 40 shit in your crate and you called your cab. And thanks to Hip Hop now being top 40, what was left in your crate was Jermaine Dupri and Jay-Z and DMX and the sleeping giant known as "dirty south" music. It didn't help that Swizz beats and Master P were determined to bring the tempos back down to 72 bpm either. This is right about the time I said "Fuck this, I'm done". I had a good run, but once I stopped enjoying the music and the people, I figured the writing was on the wall. So I decided to do one last gig and go out with a bang.
As luck would have it, my boy Mark Ronson (who by this time had seriously blown the fuck up) called me up with just such a gig: The Millennium new year's eve at Studio 54 with Grace Jones. Holy Shit. That was perfect. This was the millennium New Year's mind you, so the whole city of New York was in a mild state of panic in the weeks preceding. Not only was the local media convincing us there would almost certainly be some large scale terrorist attack, but the whole world was half convinced that the Y2K bug was going to bring civilization to a grinding halt at midnight. "Fuck it" I thought. At least I'll be DJing when the whole ship goes down.
The party was truly off the hook. Jimmy Lovine, head of Interscope records, had booked the event. He was coming off his huge superstar year in which Eminem had taken over the world. He really wanted to out-floss every other party on planet earth and he spared no expense in doing so. It was by far the most decadent display of wealth I have ever been witness to. Table upon table piled high with lobster and caviar and oysters and chocolate-covered strawberries and cheesecake and you name it. As much Cristal champagne as you could drink. Whenever you went to the bar, they simply handed you as many bottles as you wanted, free of charge. It was insane. He hired the actual FBI to do security, and he had the city shut down the entire block. There were velvet ropes on 8th and 9th avenues and if you weren't on the list you couldn't even get on the block. Every other person in the room was a celebrity. Playing my last gig to people like Dennis Hopper and Harvey Keitel and Diamond David lee Roth and Grace Jones was just too fucking cool for words. Mark and I turned it out. Grace got on about 4am and tore the place down. On top of all that, it was even my birthday. Not a bad night. Not bad at all.
So that was it.
Or so I thought.
I laid low for a few years, focusing on my new day job and my new apartment with Anne, the girl to end all girls.
Now that I was finally no longer working four nights a week, Anne decided we should start going out dancing. Dancing? DJs don't dance! Or so I thought. Sadly, I had basically never danced in my entire life. Maybe a little bit in college, but I sucked. When you're a Hip Hop DJ, if you're in a club, you're either in the booth working, or you're in the booth hanging out with your friend who is DJing. Nevertheless. I agreed that it was high time that I got my ass on a dance floor to see how the other half lived. We started taking salsa lessons, and within 6 months we were going out salsa dancing at least once a week. This was a dramatic improvement in my social life and overall happiness. To think I had waited until I was fucking 31. Hard to believe, even for me.
Around this same time, I kept running in to an old DJ friend of mine, Eman, who lived around my way in Fort Greene. We had met back around 95 or so. I was DJing at Rebar one night, playing classics. He came up to the booth, all bold and grinning and shit. I think I was playing Grover Washington's "Hydra". He said "yeah man...you aiight and shit...but...to tell you the truth...I could take you!" Them's battling words, son! He was a funny dude. I recognized him from my hood. He also used to do the door at Car Wash, a party at Wetlands. We hit it off, and remained casual friends after that. He kept telling me about this party he was doing at 205 Chrystie called Bang The Party. I had been hearing good things about it for a minute, but kept missing it. Then they moved the party to Brooklyn, and it was one block away from my crib at Frank's Lounge on Fulton Street. One night Anne and I finally committed to checking it out to see what all the hype was about.
Bang The Party was a real revelation for me.
The party was packed. And I mean PACKED. The place was about 120 degrees and steamy and sweaty and everybody was dancing. And the crowd and the crowd was amazing. So open. So welcoming. SO in to dancing. SO in to the music. The contrast between this place and the Hip Hop thuggery I had abandoned 2 years previously was night and day. Nobody beefing with you for stepping on their shoes. Nobody flossing. No champagne. No VIP. No stupid-ass Mariah Carey asking you to play her wack single. No velvet rope. No attitude at the door. No attitude from anybody. And the MUSIC...OH MY GOD...the music! Remember house music? HOLY SHIT. That's right! I seem to recall that I used to like house music! They still make that stuff? Who knew?
It had been literally 10 years since I was in a house club. Now all of a sudden it all felt like the gods were whispering directly in to my brain. Like I was wandering in the desert for 10 years and had miraculously found my way back home. It was mind blowing. The music. The people. The vibe. And I saw so many faces I knew. Old club heads from my Brooklyn days I hadn't seen in a decade. It was wonderful. So THAT'S where all the people I used to like in clubs went. Again, who knew?
I was home.
Frank's Lounge had two floors. Bang The Party was upstairs, and they played Hip Hop and Reggae downstairs. Eman insisted that I come through and play downstairs, as a lot of their crowd was spilling over in that part of the club and he knew they were my type of Hip Hop crowd. Like me, they had all been Hip Hop heads a decade earlier, and like me, they were pretty sick of the new Hip Hop that was soiling their memories of Rakim and Chuck D.
I was reluctant to get sucked back in to DJing, but the party was just so good, I couldn't pass up the offer. And it was fun. I was playing the same shit I was playing in 1995 and the crowd was eating it up. And why shouldn't they? It was an older, 28+ Brooklyn crowd. So they were basically people my age who had grown up listening to the exact same music I did. Same Hip Hop. Same reggae. Same disco classics. I didn't have to water it down, as I had been doing for years towards the end of the 90s.
So all of a sudden I was DJing again. And I must admit, it was really fucking fun.
So I played downstairs once a month. This satisfied my itch for spinning, and left me the other three Fridays to hang out upstairs and listen to Eman and the endless string of great DJs from all over the country and the world who were coming through and playing with him. I was rediscovering house music and dancing my ass off every weekend. I hounded Eman for track IDs every night I was there, and I started buying as much house as I could. Within a year, I was making my own house mix CDs and bugging Eman to let me play with the big boys upstairs. I saw this as the ultimate challenge: to leave the safety of Hip Hop and Reggae and play house for the most die-hard crowd of Brooklyn house heads. Eman kept telling me to bide my time and keep practicing, which is exactly what I did.
At the same time, Shelter was re-opening on 39th Street in Manhattan. Shelter was thee foundation house party of all New York house parties throughout the 90s. It had inherited a large portion of the old disco heads from the Paradise Garage and The Loft and it really set the standard for New York house. I had only been there once or twice in about 1991 when they first opened. Shelter was next door to Wetlands on Hubert Street, and some of the Wetlands staff would occasionally go out to clubs after we got off work at 4am. I remember walking in and being totally amazed at how loud the sound system was. I think Sounds of Blackness was performing on stage or something. We stayed for a few minutes and then split, as there was no alcohol being served. Clearly, I wasn't ready.
So now it was 10 years later. 2001. The first time I walked in to the new Shelter on 39th street, my jaw fell on the floor. It was like Bang The Party times ten! Same smiling, welcoming faces. Same vibe. Same energy. Same music. But the sound...OH MY GOD...the sound was literally the cleanest, crispest, loudest sound system I had ever heard in my entire life. The DJ was Timmy Regisford, the same DJ from 10 years earlier, and he was beating that shit to death.
The house music was wonderful, but it was the classics this dude played that really got to me. All this amazing disco music. Every single person in the club seemed to know all the words, and I knew maybe one tenth of it. This was astounding. Thirteen years I had been DJing, and the DJ was playing to a crowd that looked pretty much like the exact same black and brown faces I had been playing to for years. A bit older maybe. But still, he was playing songs that I had never even heard.
How could this be?
To tell you the truth, I was actually kind of embarrassed.
I honestly thought that I already owned practically every disco classic from the 70s and 80s that was worth owning. Good GOD was I wrong. This was such a humbling experience. Such an inspiration to discover that there was an entire world of disco out there that had somehow been secretly redacted from the Hip Hop DJs' repertoire.
To put this in perspective, you need to understand: We Hip Hop DJs play classics, but in New York at least, this was an incredibly limited list of classics:All Night long, Catch The Beat, Outstanding, Just a Touch Of Love, Running Away, Bra, Got To Give It Up, I Wanna Thank You, The Glow of Love, Apache,It's Just Begun, I Found Lovin, Genius of Love, and whatever was on the Ultimate Breaks-n-Beats compilations. But who the fuck is Brainstorm? Who the hell is Idris Muhhamed? Johnny Hammond? Coke Escovido? Two Tons of Fun? Trussel? The New Birth? Talk about opening my nose. Wow. Not only did I have hundreds of house records I was trying to catch up on, but I now had thousands of disco classics to dig for.
Music was all of a sudden NEW again.
What a shock!
What a gift!
Eman soon gave me a chance to get down with Bang The Party when they moved to their new location at 667 in Brooklyn. I had been studying and practicing for almost two years and I was chomping at the bit. The party was great, and I was thrilled to be playing house to a real househead crowd. Everything was new again. New crowd. New standards. New singalongs. New when-in-doubt-you-can-always-play-such and such-records. New regulars. New politics. New Everything. I managed to play there about once a month for the next year or so. We moved the party to the old Caviar space on Washington Street, down by the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The party eventually fizzled out, mostly due to the remoteness of the location. Still, I learned so much about how to work a househead crowd and I made a lot of connections within the New York house scene. These connections have lead to more and more gigs ever since.
Being a house DJ is most definitely a labor of love, as there is little opportunity to play and very little money to be made. But who cares? Once I stopped thinking of DJing as a job and preserved it as a hobby, I fell in love with it all over again.
So I've spent the last six years as a reborn student of house and disco, with countless hours on the dance floor under the expert tutelage of some masters: Danny Krivit, David Depino, Timmy Regisford, David Mancuso, Louie Vega, Kenny Dope, Tyrone Francis, Eman, Timmy Richardson, Kervyn Mark, Herb Martin, Francois K, Wil Milton, Sting International, Jamie 3:26, Karizma, etc etc. The list goes on and on. These DJs continue to inspire me, and I am truly proud to carry on their tradition to the best of my ability. It's been a long winding road, but the best part is realizing that whether I'm DJing or not, there is always new music to discover. Always more pieces to the puzzle. So the search continues.
-     SHORT SPEECH TO BE DELIVERED AT MY DAD'S 70th BIRTHDAY
Greetings and salutations from New York City. I am deeply sorry that I could not be there with you all today, on this most momentous of occasions. You have gathered together to celebrate the extremely long life of John Bevan. A life so long, in fact, that an accurate tally of the years can perhaps never truly be reckoned.
We know this much: He was born a long, long time ago, sometime before the dawn of recorded history. Being so very, very old, he has witnessed a great deal in his long, long life. He has seen empires rise and fall. He has seen men walk on the moon. He has witnessed the birth of a new age. He has seen his beloved homeland of Australia finally achieve international prominence through the celluloid sensations of not one but THREE Crocodile Dundee movies. The wonders can hardly be counted.
Yet, during this long, long life, what was his greatest achievement? I have no idea. But I do know this: somewhere in the latter half of the 20th century, he managed to find a good, honest Australian woman that would put up with his godless values, his scientific obsessions that bordered on the savant, and his automobile-repair-induced fits of Tourettes syndrome that would make a sailor blush. Together they raised two lousy, ungrateful daughters and one fabulously brilliant son. These no-good daughters continue to raise questions about their true paternal lineage, while the son remains a beacon of hope that continues to convince John that perhaps his long, long time on this wretched earth has not been entirely in vain.
Yes, it's been a long time. As he enters in to this, his umpteenth decade, we must all come to the harsh realization that, if he continues on his current course, he may indeed outlast us all, so we might as well just accept him for the lovable weirdo he is. I know I have. He's my very weird and very old Dad, and I love him for it.
Happy Birthday, you old weirdo.
-     INVITE I DREW FOR MY DAD'S 70th BIRTHDAY
-     SOME COOL BOOKS THAT DON'T SUCK (and I barely even read)
THE BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS by JORGE LUIS BORGES
My friend Nadia gave me this book. It's a whimsical encyclopedia of cool and bizarre monsters and other imaginary beings from literature all around the world. Borges draws material from fiction, mythology, and everything inbetween. It's also peppered with cool, funky illustrations by Peter Sis. Yet it is much more than just a catalogue. Borges' literary style, masquerading here as straight-forward documentation, is still profoundly entertaining, and the whole damn thing will make you smile as you read it. Page after page of wild and wonderful creatures like the Bahamut, the Fastitocalon, the Hippogriff, the Ink Monkey, the Squonk, and the Zaratan - usually with quotes from the text of origin. Whatever adult told me "learning is fun", as it turns out, was actually right.
DRAWING FROM LIFE: THE JOURNAL AS ART by Jenifer New
A beautiful collection of personal journals. hand-crafterd, scribbled and sketched by various super-geniuses like Lynda Barry and David Byrne. As you may have guessed, I love this type of shit. Overwhelmingly inspiring and engaging. Painters. Photographers. Musicians. Volcanologists. Gardeners. And all of it enthralling. Like rifling through the pockets of strangers. What's not to like?
CBGB: DECADES OF GRAFFITI by Christopher D Salyers and John Putnam.
The king is gone but he's not forgotten. Somebody was smart enough to go and record all of the graffiti that has covered every inch of CBGB since the late 70s. Layer upon layer of punk rock history in a concise photo essay which captures the spirit of the place rather well. With a cool introduction by none other than my own brother-in-law Richard Hell. This was published by Mark Batty, who, much to my dismay, has already published a book of every brilliantly original idea for a graphic-design book I have ever had but been too lazy to act on. Collections of Mexican calligraphy. Industrial hazard signage. Bathroom graffiti. You name it. It's like they crawled inside my freakin' brain. Man, it sucks being lazy.
BLACK HOLE by Charles Burns
My friend Dave sent me this book. Burns has always been one of my favorite comic illustrators from the RAW camp. Every single frame is like a perfect black and white graphic poster. On top of that, he can really write weird and compelling shit, with an emphasis on WEIRD. This story of a strange STD that afflicts a group of teenagers, each in a different manifestation, makes your skin crawl in the best possible way. I read the entire thing in one sitting so that I could hurry up and just look at the pretty pictures. I hate the term graphic novel, but whatever you call this, it's fucking cool.
-     MUNDANE MYSTERIES: THE SNACK FOOD FROM THE EIGHTH DIMENSION
Between 1994 and 1999, I lived on the third floor of a brownstone on Dekalb avenue, between Adelphi Ave. and Clermont Ave., in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
The landlord was an elderly woman from Barbados who seemed to know just about everybody that ever walked down the block. She lived elsewhere in the neighborhood, but had retained both the ground floor and parlor floor of my building for her seemingly-client-less bakery and catering company. Her kitchen and bakery was on the ground floor, and the parlor floor was a dining room she rented once in a blue moon for catering affairs. She eked out a living renting the two apartments in the building and selling sweet potato pies on Saturdays to long-time residents of the neighbor hood.
My only neighbors were above me: a lesbian construction worker and her 2 year old daughter. The mother, while pleasant enough to me personally, was fond of yelling at her clueless kid 24 hours a day and getting in to fistfights in my stairwell with her many girlfriends.
The place was nothing special, but it was cheap, and I had a whole floor to myself, so I loved it.
Once, on a typical sweltering summer day in 1996, I came home from work in the early evening as I did every day. On this particular day, however, I encountered what can aptly be described as a foreign object in my home. Directly in the middle of my otherwise barren living room floor, much to my wonder and amazement, I noticed a single cheese puff.
That's right, a cheese puff.
I do not eat cheese puffs. I will eat a cheese doodle if presented with one. I may even eat a whole bag of cheese doodles if the opportunity arises, but cheese puffs have always annoyed me. They look robust and full of flavor to the naked eye, but biting in to a cheese puff is profoundly anti-climactic. Like biting in to thin air. No meat. No crunch. No flavor. No satisfaction. I've always considered them to be the poor man's cheese doodle and a-shell-of-a-snack-food if there ever was one. All bark and no bite. All puffed up, and for what? Nothing. That's what.
So just where in the world did this single cheese puff come from?
This is a mystery I have tragically never solved. A mystery that has plagued me for the last decade, and will most likely follow me to my grave.
I stared at the cheese puff for a good two or three minutes. I then searched my kitchen, trying to discover a hidden bag of cheese puffs that had somehow made its way in to my possession despite my aversion to their wretched existence. But no, there was no bag of origin to be found.
I immediately called my girlfriend, who did have a set of keys to my apartment, though her visits were somewhat rare.
"I have to ask you something strange, but just bear with me" I said. "Have you, by any chance, been sneaking in to my apartment in the middle of the day and eating cheese puffs?"
"What the fuck are you talking about?" she replied, confused and slightly annoyed.
"Well, I discovered a single solitary cheese puff lying the middle of my living room floor, and I don't eat cheese puffs, so I am trying to discover the origin of this thing, and you're the only other person who has keys, besides my landlord I suppose. And I can't say this for certain, but I feel like you once admitted to me in a conversation that you didn't share my disdain for the cheese puff, and, in fact, you considered them equally as legitimate as the cheese doodle."
"Umm...no. I have not been sneaking in to your apartment to eat cheese puffs during the day. I have a job, dude." She snarked.
"No offense. I just had to ask, 'cause you're the only other person who ever comes in here and...I don't know...I just can't figure out where this fucking thing came from"
"Whatever dude. Good luck with that" She replied dismissively. We said goodbye and hung up. Clearly she did not share my wonder and amazement at the mystery that had befallen me. Such a cold, heartless woman.
So where did it come from?
Several theories began forming in my mind, which I will now put forth to you, for your consideration.
Suspect #1: MY LANDLORD.
She was a nice enough lady, and didn't at all seem like the type to snoop around in my apartment (whilst eating cheese doodles, no less).Yet I had to consider that she was the only other person with keys that I was aware of.
Was she coming in to my apartment during the day and watching talk shows or something? Did she have a habit of doing this, and did she enjoy her TV watching with a bag of cheese puffs?
Again, this just didn't fit. She was a good Christian woman. She didn't even curse. She used to say to me on hot summer days just like the one in question, in her thick Barbados accent, “Julian, dear, it’s hotta dan H, E, and TWO STICK ote hee-ya!" Her pictograph interpretation of the word "Hell" was just about the funniest thing I had ever heard. My good friend Angela, with whom I shared everything, was equally amused, and we had come to refer to her lovingly as "H-E-TWO-STICK". "So how is H-E-TWO-STICK these days? Still baking those pies?" and so forth.
So it just didn't seem plausible that she was eating cheese puffs in my apartment behind my back.
Suspect #2: THE WIND.
This being the middle of summer and me being a cheap bastard, I usually had all of my windows wide open. I owned a small air conditioner, which was in a window in the bedroom, but I only ever turned it on in late August, when New York reaches its boiling point. So for the majority of the spring and summer months, April through August, two windows were left open, one on each end of the apartment, creating a substantially pleasant cross-breeze that many of my visitors commented on with mild admiration.
Was it possible that this single cheese puff was carried in to my apartment by a particularly hearty gust of wind? After all, cheese puffs, as I mentioned, are pretty much air themselves. A more worthless snack-food I cannot imagine.
Still, this theory seemed a bit far-fetched. Even if a cheese puff was gathered up in a gust of wind, the chance of it staying airborne and reaching the third floor of a brownstone seemed highly unlikely.
Suspect #3: THE MOUSE.
I say the mouse, as I had an encounter with a particular precocious mouse a few months earlier that bears recounting, for the purposes of evidence to support my suspicions.
Being a generally lazy young man of 25 or so, I was not much of a chef. In fact, I don't think I even turned on the stove in the entire 5 years I lived there. I don't exaggerate when I make this claim. Cooking has never been my forte. I think I owned a single, old, thrift store saucepan that my sister had given my out of pity, and it remained lonely and un-used in my otherwise barren kitchen cabinets. If I wasn't eating cheeseburgers and French fries in a diner, I was eating take-out food at home, every single night, without exception.
This habit tended to generate a fair amount of garbage, as each night's dinner resulted in several used take-out containers, plastic utensils, a stack of napkins, endless packets of duck sauce, empty paper bags, and empty plastic bags. Problem was, this particular building had its share of mice. As I mentioned, the landlady had a bakery and kitchen on the ground floor, and where there is a commercial kitchen, there is most assuredly mice. So I discovered early on that any take-out container left unattended was a guaranteed target for the rodent hordes which ruled the night.
For this reason, I tended to put all of my garbage in my fridge. It wasn't like I was using it to store food. The fridge was used solely for beverages. Carona and Coca-Cola, to be specific. And Haagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream in the freezer. Otherwise, it was chock full of bags and bags of old take-out food. Once every few weeks, it was completely full, I would transfer the take-out bags to a proper garbage bag and take it outside. Leaving garbage in a regular kitchen trash can was out of the question, as the mice were more than adept at getting in there.
My take-out choices were extremely limited. This was in the days prior to gentrification, and black neighborhoods on the east coast, with a few exceptions, usually have two basic food options for delivery: Chinese and pizza. There were plenty of other restaurants. Soul food places. Beef patty joints. Rice and beans joints. But very few of them delivered, especially past 10pm when I was likely to order dinner. So I ate nothing but Chinese food and pizza. I did this for years and years. And if I hadn't moved in with a woman with slightly higher gastronomical standards, I would probably be maintaining this diet to this very day.
Back to the fridge: when there was no more room for half-empty Domino's pizza boxes in the fridge, the only other option was to balance them on top of the radiator, out of reach of the mice.
One particular spring evening of this very same year, I had done just that. I ate some Domino's pizza in bed as I watched Hawaii-Five-0 reruns on cable in the wee small hours of the morning. The fridge was full, so, I placed the box precariously on top of the radiator near my bed and drifted off to pizza-induced sleep.
I was awoken in the morning, again by a scratching sound. Not particularly loud - just a subtle scratching. Sounded like cardboard.
I sat up in bed and tried to pinpoint the origin. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the Domino's pizza box. It was moving. Teetering back and forth atop the radiator.
Having just woken up, it took me a few second to put two and two together. "Holy fuck there's something alive inside my pizza box!" Sure enough, there was. Despite the lid being securely fastened, and despite the box being placed on top of the radiator, I could see that a small hole had been chewed in the side of the box, and the only logical conclusion was that there was a mouse inside the box, feasting on the remains of last night's dinner.
"What the fuck am I gonna do? There's a mouse in my pizza box!" I thought. Action had to be taken. I crept out of bed and stood over the erratically teetering pizza box, weighing my options. I had to act quickly. There was no time to contemplate. This demanded immediate action.
I grabbed the box, mouse still inside, and made a mad dash for the living room. The living room window was wide open. As I mentioned, it created a rather pleasant cross-breeze. I ran to the edge of the window and, with all my might, I launched the pizza box, mouse and all, like a Frisbee, up up and away in to the open air space of the back yard. It was surprisingly aero-dynamic, sailing well past the edge of the property and disappearing behind some bushes two houses over.
What this impromptu flight meant for the mouse I can only guess. I'm sure he was surprised to say the least, though I feel like the thickness and sturdiness of the Domino' corrugated cardboard pizza box must have protected him from any serious bodily injury. I did feel bad about launching him in to space like that, but it was him or me, and it was my name on the lease.
Getting back to the mystery cheese puff, I now had to consider the possibility that this mouse held some kind of a grudge, and was returning to my apartment just to spite me; bringing in snacks from his travels during the day and leaving evidence to taunt me. A stretch, I'll admit. I examined the cheese puff for teeth marks, but alas, there were none.
Suspect #4: MY GIRLFRIEND
Though this would be uncharacteristic of her, I had to consider the possibility that she was lying, and that she did, in fact, have a habit of sneaking in to my apartment during the day to eat snack foods.
Suspect #5: THE SQUIRREL.
Again, not a squirrel, but the squirrel. Earlier that spring, not long after the mouse-Frisbee incident, I had an alarming encounter with a particular neighborhood squirrel.
I was fast asleep one Sunday morning in this very apartment. In the waning moments of my late-morning dreams, a violent scratching sound began to intrude. It sounded like thick finger nails furiously scratching a wooden surface. The sound became so loud that it eclipsed whatever dream I was having and jarred me from slumber. I lay in bed for a few seconds, sluggishly contemplating just what the fuck the sound was. It was getting louder and louder. Then I remembered that I had wooden floors. And this loud scratching sound must be something scratching loudly on my wooden floors. Something with hard finger nails must be sliding around on my wooden floors. Like a bolt of lightning, I was consumed by an alarming revelation: "Holy shit! There' some kind of creature inside my apartment, and it's running around in a frenzy scratching the fuck out of my wooden floors!" My eyes burst wide with terror.
The sound was now most certainly emanating from within my bedroom, at it had reached considerable volume. Just as I bolted upright in bed, a gigantic grey squirrel leaped up out of nowhere and landed directly on my bed, in the direct vicinity of my bare feet.
In a split second of mutual surprise, we locked eyes. I immediately screamed like a schoolgirl. After all, I had just woken up not ten seconds previous, and here I was, face to face with a potentially rabid intruder, a wild animal, who was now mere inches from my bare flesh; and who clearly possessed razor-sharp finger nails that could claw my eyes out and tear me limb from limb. So hell yes I screamed.
As I screamed, the squirrel jumped up in terror. I swear to god, he leapt three feet straight up in the air, like he had been shot out of a cannon. I too jumped back in terror, retracting my bare feet and crouching against the baseboard in a fetal position like a frightened child. The squirrel came back down on to the bed and immediately performed what can only be described as a perfect back flip dismount off of the bed and back on to the wooden floor.
Once he hit the floor, he began sliding around the room at a million fucking miles an hour like he was on PCP, frantically searching for an escape route. In three seconds flat, he circled the room two or three times, scratching his claws wildly on my slippery wooden floor, before changing direction and darting back past the bathroom towards the living room. I leapt out of bed in pursuit, forgoing my own terror with the realization that I had to get this fucking bat-shit-crazy squirrel out of my apartment.
He ran straight through the living room and launched himself, full speed, like fucking superman, out of the very same open window that I had ejected the mouse from. I slammed the window shut behind him before he even hit the ground. And, in a flash, he was gone.
Jesus Christ is that a bad fucking way to wake up.
Anyway, I had to now consider that the very same squirrel, emboldened by his previous adventure in my apartment a few months previous, was now fond of bringing his daily lunch in to my apartment during the day (again, just to spite me). But again, the lack of teeth marks on the puff in question casts considerable doubt on this hypothesis.
And there you have it. Those are my chief suspects in the case of the mystery cheese puff.
It has been ten years already, but this conundrum haunts me to this very day. I fear I will never really know the truth, and I will go to my grave a tortured soul.
If you are as captivated by this enigma wrapped in a question mark wrapped in fake chemical cheese as I am, please Email me your theories so that perhaps my mind can be finally be put at ease. I would be forever in your debt. Thank you for reading this.