You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The word banish'd

Each New Year's Eve Day for the last 35 years, Lake Superior State University has provided a great service by present a list of words that, by their estimation, must be banned immediately from all dialog, public and private. This year one of my suggestions ("too big to fail") is featured. This is my contribution, I feel, to making the world a better place.

Overall, LSSU's choices are sometimes predictable and always overdue: this year it's "tweeting," "friending," and my favorite, "Obamafication." (Actually, don't ban that one yet. Our work isn't done there).

But just you wait, "amazing." Next year. Next year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's the hap-happiest season of all

Standard fare are Sheffield, England trio who deserve more renown than they have. Emma Kupa's songwriting puts a dry, postmodern spin on the kind of classic female singer-songwriter style influenced by Ani DiFranco. I don't know whether releasing a Christmas song will help them, but it couldn't hurt. So will the March release of their first full-length album on Bar/None.

"Tinsel Politics" is no Bing Crosby; Kupa's tone is that of someone who's scratching her head about why she's writing about Christmas to begin with. Among carefree mandolins and jingle bells (naturally) she waffles about where to spend Christmas Eve and harping on her partner about trivialities. By the time she gets around to adding "I don't even know why this is on my mind/I'm not even a Christian," she's probably come closer to capturing the peculiarities of 21st-century Gen-Y holiday angst than anything else you'll hear this December.

Mp3 - Standard Fare - Tinsel Politics

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookie monster

One unsung benefit of the holiday office party, as it turns out, is finding out just who your co-workers actually are. (Yes, I know that sounds odd, but I work in a rather odd business). This past Sunday, I learned that one of these stealth ghosts happens to be the legendary Matt Timms, Brooklyn impresario of various Takedowns (chili, fondue and otherwise). The next one, concerning cookies, is on Sunday the 20th at The Bell House. Not that anything would keep me away from all-you-can-eat cookies, but in this impersonal city, it's always nice to have a personal connection with someone you only see once a year.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Get wrecked

Indichik says:

UNY, who I've mentioned before here once in passing and am now going to go ahead and all-out pimp, is a vast collective of artists and writers celebrating and exploring all that lies beneath NYC waterways. I am part of them; my short story "The Last Days of the Princess Anne," about a steamship that sank off Rockaway in 1920 and the crew who remained aboard it for 10 days, was published in their online anthology, and you can go the site and read it now (if you so chose of course).

They've just announced a writing contest in connection with the American Folk Life Museum, so now you, my friends, providing you have the wherewithal to spin a story about a local shipwreck, real or fictional, can be a winner. Note that if you win the contest, you'll be reading alongside me at the Folk Art Museum on March 10, which let's face it, is reward enough.

The Underwater New York Shipwreck Story Contest:

In conjunction with the American Folk Art Museum

Sunken on the floors of NYC's waterways are no fewer than 170 lost and wrecked ships. Underwater New York invites you to dive in and mine the wreckage. Draw your inspiration from their gallery of shipwreck images and tell a story—fiction, creative nonfiction or poetry—that brings these ghost ships back to life in 3000 words or less. The winning story will be published in Underwater New York, and its author will have the chance to read at Underwater New York Free Music Friday: Shipwreck Stories at the American Folk Art Museum, on March 5, 2010.

  • Deadline for entries is February 12, 2010.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Fifth Annual PaperMag Nightlife Awards (yes, ChiChi lost, but who cares? Free bottle service!)

Amanda Lepore and Ladyfag present an award.

Mr. Mickey and Ladyfag.
Co-emcee and Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Michael Musto (he's much funnier in person than in his Voice column, which avoiding, for me, is practically a third part-time job).

The crew from Santos Party House, winning for the 87th year in a row.

The crowd up on the back of the sofa during The Drums' set.

Since ChiChi212 received a much-deserved People's Choice Nom for Best Nightlife Blog (it's one of those links over in the sidebar that you never look at, but includes the occasional item from me, like encounters with Ed Westwick that I would be too embarrassed to post here), I got a ticket to the show, which took place at the aptly-named M2 Ultralounge (formerly Mansion). It's quite large. This post is only a small, tantalizing slice of the freakishishness and various levels of fiercely bad taste on display, (two words: drag queens) but luckily retro-pop band The Drums (filling in for much-more-polished Ting Tings at the last minute) with their crew cuts and windbreakers looked like they ought to be hanging out at a malt shop somewhere in 1955, ended the night feeling less like the city's chrome-trimmed jungle and more like the vast wilds of Brooklyn; in other words, this Indichik felt right at home.

The recap over on the ChiChi212 site and the article have even more red-carpet photos, decadence and random celebrity sightings, including my editor Brittany getting all cute about presenter Taylor Hanson (yes, of those Hansons).

Mp3 - The Drums - Let's Go Surfing

A very prosperous loft party

With its high-energy, ska-influenced take on Southern indie rock, the Black Taxi live show is not to be missed. Plus, it's Meijin's birthday!

Mp3 - Black Taxi - Up Here for Thinking, Down Here for Dancing

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dave Eggers in the news

I hope that if today's release of the San Francisco Panorama, Dave Eggers' adventure in print journalism , accomplishes anything, it's to disabuse Dave Eggers of the notion that any one single person can save print journalism, and even if someone could, it will definitely not be Dave Eggers.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Espers @ The Bell House, 12/5/09

For a band based in Philly, an NYC visit by Espers is tragically rare, which explains why their show at The Bell House last night was so well-attended. Singer/guitarist Greg Weeks is an unapologetic, all-out hippie, complete with fringed buckskin belt-bag, moccasins, round glasses and bell-bottom trousers. The lightning rod of the band is singer Meg Baird (her first solo record, 2007's Dear Companion, would be a shoo-in if I was making a "Best of the Oughts" list, which I'm SO not). Her voice is instantly recognizable on every record she makes, and even though people like to compare it to Vashti Bunyan and Sandy Denny, she doesn't really sound like either of them. It's just that her style of singing doesn't have much of a context that current audiences can relate to. Which is sort of why it's great.

Much of Espers, in fact, is rooted in past styles that may or may not ever be relevant again. Their earlier recordings were more acoustic based and more or categorizable as freak-folk or freak-folk adjacent, but they've expanded. Their October release, Espers III, incorporates as much electric as it does acoustic (not to mention precise work from Vetiver drummer Otto Hauser) and achieves a kind of late-sixties psych-pop feel, reminsicent of Fairport Convention or even Fleetwood Mac. It's the type of music that you never really hear anymore, ever. It's too bad, too, because a couple of songs they played last night, like Tomorrow from 2005's The Weed Tree, "Children of Stone" from Espers II or "Caroline" from III, I could actually see being radio hits at a very, very specific point in musical time.

Mp3 - Espers - Caroline

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tonight: Help a brother out

I don't have health insurance anymore either, as I'm sure a lot you don't, so I'm, certainly sympathetic. And it's always nice when the Brooklyn music community come together to help out one of their own. Plus, I love the White Suns, and when are you going to get to see Genesis Breyer P-Orridge at Dea,th by Audio? Probably never.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Literary folk

Since I'm reading Rick Moody as we speak (Garden State, his first) I was interested when I learned that if I want, I can listen to him, too, being that The Wingdale Community Singers, his Brooklyn-based singer-songwriters collective, just released their second album, Spirit Duplicator, on Secret Shame. Moody and the rest of the foursome share the songwriting duty equally. This includes Hannah Marcus (who's played with American Music Club, Red House Painters and Godspeed You Black Emporer), David Grubbs (of Red Krayola, Squirrel Bait, and Bastro) and Nina Katchadourian. Moody also recently served as guest editor for an issue of Magnet Magazine.The album manages to sound remarkably old-timey without being cloying, exemplified by "Give it a Kiss," with its instantly memorable hook.

Since I spent the better part of semester researching the NYC folk scene for a grad school class, I've taken personal interest in the survival of folk music in New York, After the '60s revival waned, it seems most folkies have moved far away from this admittedly hyper-ironic scene. The Wingdales (like Sharon van Etten) are an incredible treasure located right here, and I'm glad they're carrying the folk torch for New York.

Actually, after, a while I realized that the Wingdales' music, springlike and rustic , full of old-fashioned harmonic singing, doesn't exactly match up to Moody's book, with its gloomy industrial spaces and early-twentysomething ennui set to the backdrop of northern New Jersey in the '80s. But hey, I prefer The Carter Family anyway, their beautiful, spare cover of which is below:

Mp3 - Wingdale Community Singers - Death is Only a Dream

What's the deal? Your weekly Publisher's Lunch deal snark (Blogiana Edition)

Publisher's Lunch says: Comedic writer and former radio host April Winchell's REGRETSY, based on the popular blog of the same name; featuring a collection of the oddest, most humorous, and most disturbing crafts the world has ever seen, along with commentary provided by the author, to Jill Schwartzman at Villard, for trade paperback publication, in a pre-empt, by Meg Thompson at LJK Literary Management (world English).

Indichik says: So yeah, speaking of regret? Books based on blogs. Whatever happened to that one based on Stuff White People Like? I think I saw it in the 75% off bin at Urban Outfitters, like six months ago? There's a reason online media is taking of while print is (arguably) dying: disposability. Blogs are, quite rightly, written to be transient. When you spend good money to try to convert that concept to glossy covers and acid-free paper you lose what makes them work. Not everything is meant to be printed. Let's let blogs be blogs, okay? An end in themselves. (Confidential to book agents: contact me for my 78-page proposal for Indichik: The Novel.)

Princess Tiana revisited

The Princess and the Frog, after months of criticism, retconning and hand-wringing, has opened, and as of today has an 88% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course I'm using this opportunity to invite you to revisit my PopMatters article, contrasting Princess Tiana and her predecessor, Uncle Remus, and encouraging viewers to revisit the latter. All cultural controversies aside, I'm just happy that today's kids finally get to see a Disney film made the way it was MEANT to be seen: in flat, glorious 2-D.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Road map to pop stardom

Behold: the "Fame 500" map, a nifty little scientific tool to map which British counties have the most talent per capita. Probably the most surprising revelation (those those of us of a certain age, perhaps, and by that I mean 23) Merseyside and London, the homes of The Beatles and Bowie only finished second and third, respectively, behind the relative isolated northern county Lancashire, home of Oasis and Morrissey. Imagine if this were transposed to the U.S.: While New York and California would obviously have strong showings, I would expect that Minnesota would naturally emerge somewhere near the top, what with Prince, Bob Dylan, and one of the dudes from "Dude, Where's My Car?"

Lately, with the debut in the UK of "Pop Idol," which later gave birth to, of course, "American Idol" with its cattle calls throughout Middle America, and the current British, Simon Cowell-driven talent show juggernaut, "X-Factor," has essentially democratized the achievement of national exposure and fame for aspiring performers. Now UK grocery chain Tesco is taking it one step further by introducing the 1Click2Fame talent competition. Using HD Green Screen technology placed in specialty audition pods inside Tesco stores during a national tour, residents of even the smallest hamlets can create professional quality audition videos, and not only send them instantly to friends, but upload them to the Web site for a chance at winning cash prizes, recording contracts and other goodies. Case in point: the first round winner was Lucie Evans, an impossibly lovable 16-year-old Lily Allen-esque pop singer who went from making her own audition video to recording in L.A. and auditioning musicians there for her touring band:

There's hundreds of videos already available to vote on, and a quick visit to the site proves there's a lot more where Lucie came from. You know it's only a matter of time before this hits a Stop 'n' Shop near you. So could this mean the end of "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere?" Personally if it means the New Yorks and Londons of the world will lose their strangleholds on the entertainment industry, and no longer compel hopefuls to pay outrageously high rents for the privilege of being spat upon by talent agents and record execs, then 1Click2Fame may be the best innovation in entertainment scouting since FM radio. Long live the democracy of talent.

Mp3 - Lucie Evans - No Blue Sky

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Join me Thursday for story time in Greenpoint

Here's your chance to hear me tell whatever stirring story I come up with between now and Thursday night (and that will most likely involve a penis, because as I've come to realize, at readings, much like in kindergarten, penis references are invariably gold) and if you're so inclined, join me and the other talented readers before and/or after for a drink and a hang. It happens this Thursday, November 19 at 8 pm at Bar Matchless, 557 Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint. Detailed directions can be found here:

Vol. 1 Brooklyn Storytelling Series

Come wish us a happy winter break as we present our final Vol. 1 Brooklyn Storytelling of 2009. This month, we present two contributes to our site, and three newcomers to the Matchless stage.

:Porochista Khakpour
::Clay Mcleod Chapman
:::Tobias Carroll
::::Aaron Hartman
:::::Claire Shefchik

Hosted by Jason Diamond

What's the deal? Your weekly Publisher's Lunch deal snark (God Bless America Edition)

Publisher's Lunch says: Todd Gitlin's UNDYING, about a philosopher, who is diagnosed with lymphoma while struggling to write a book contending that Friedrich Nietzsche's thought stemmed from his ill heath, and who is also compelled to contend with a severely errant daughter, as well as the trauma of George W. Bush's 2004 victory, to Jack Shoemaker at Counterpoint, by Ellen Levine at Trident Media Group.

Indichik says: That second obstacle (after the daughter) is priceless. Or maddening, I can't decide which. In any case, eight years of Bush were bad enough -- do we really need to start reliving them through fiction?

Hartzveytik roundup, plus: The Shondes at SLC

First, over on Jezebel, Niina did an unbelievably complete job with recapping last Saturday's Hartzveytik: A Survival Society Social, a charity fundraiser at Southpaw, featuring the Low and the Lonesome, Royal Pink, Soft Power and of course, The Shondes (shown here).

Also: You can see The Shondes! But only if you go to Sarah Lawrence College. Or possibly, if you formerly went to Sarah Lawrence, as I did a relatively short time ago in another life, and still know your way around really, really well and/or still carry your expired student ID around in your wallet. If that's the case, they play Saturday, November 21 at 9 p.m. in The Blue Room.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ben Yagoda writes in praise of the memoirist

Salon's Laura Miller has a long review of Ben Yagoda's new Memoir: A History (Riverhead) up. The book delves back in history to explain the motives of memoirists as early as St. Augustine. I suppose there are those who are interested in such things, but to me, the more intriguing aspects are Yagoda's arguments in defense of the current craze for memoirs of all types, and all levels of quality. One of these is that the current popularity of memoir now allows mediocre writers to get published. And that astonishingly, this is somehow a good thing.

Now missing The Shondes

I've now managed to miss Brooklynites The Shondes twice: once before Rasputina's last show at The Knitting Factory, and once Saturday at Southpaw at Hartzveytik: A Survival Society Social, because I had to leave before their set for a very oddly-timed work-related thing. If heir brand of riot-grrl-meets-traditional Jewish music appeals to you, than you must feel my frustration. I was however able to see Royal Pink, a shamelessly gimmicky '50s girl group throwback band (complete with pink poodle skirts) that got a little less gimmicky at the end, and a very small part of Soft Power, who play lovely laid-back pop. However, when The Shondes' album comes out (soon I'm told), Louisa has promised me VIP status (or something resembling it) and I'll have to be satsified with that. Meanwhile, here's their video for "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," courtesy of Niina.

Friday, November 13, 2009

If I ran the circus, it would look a lot like this

Photos from the cave of daring freaks and spectacular wonders, courtesy of testosterone-heavy email newsletter Thrillist party, Friday at Carnival. In the top photo are the beginnings of the balloon Elmo I had so generously mademe, complete with googly eyes (that kept popping off before he was finished). You could also win live goldfish by tossing ping pong balls in their bowls. The whole event was sponsored by Jolt Energy Mints and Canadian Club Whiskey, complimenting each other perfectly.