You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

DBA show of the week

Today I'm calling your attention to an all-day marathon music event happening at my very own former employer, Death by Audio in Williamsburg. It's a benefit for this year's installment of You Are Here: A Maze. According to this year's press release, it's "A meditation on passage and desire, You Are Here engulfs the space and presents beckoning inhabitants, dead ends, and
uplifting epitaphs." Plus special guest performances from bands like Aa, the Dirty Projectors, and Excepter. With electronic musical weirdos and dancing costumed freaks around every corner, it's one of those things that could only spring out of the fabulously cracked minds of the Brooklyn DIY scene, and this year it's happening from September 10 to October 2 at DBA. It's, well, a-maze-ing. (Sorry, someone had to say it). This is your chance to help support it.

Death by Audio is on S. 2nd St. in Williamsburg, between Kent and Wythe Aves.

Here's a video of last year's Maze

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beyond Race Magazine Third Anniversary Show ,Tuesday 7/21 at Santos Party House

Soulstress Maya Azucena and band.

The Fat Jew (this is his actual stage name, no joke) from Team Facelift. The trio's Web site states, "Our aim is basically to do to rap what Elton John did to being gay." Let's face it, that's really all you need to know.

Monday, July 20, 2009

This week's Chikpiks

Wednesday, July 22

Casper & The Cookies

Remember Of Montreal? My guess is yes. This guy used to be one of the members. Jason NeSmith (aka Casper Fandango) is a messenger from that Bible Belt music oasis of Athens, Georgia, and shares a similar '60s pop-psychedelic sound.

Knight School
These Brooklynites are similar to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (a band that just hasn't been touted enough on this blog), but not exactly. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Lo-fi is the sound of the moment, after all.

With Everything, Now and Boy Genius.

Bruar Falls
8 PM

Thursday, July 23

Slim Cessna's Auto Club

Yes, Slim Cessna is the frontman's actual name, and everything you may or may not have heard about his band, is true. With slightly creepy, Gothic-country lyrics, catchy choruses and semi-choreographed moves with his sidekick-possibly-brother Jay Munly, Cessna puts on a show worth overcoming your fears to see live. Expect cracked-out cowgirl groupies in the front row (no, I am not one of them).

The Bell House
7:30 PM


"Suckers" brings to mind a prototypically snarly punk band, but these Brooklynites aren't afraid to smile. They play a kind of a dreamier kind of pop, pitch-perfect for cloud-gazing or mountain-hiking.

With Bear in Heaven.

8 PM

Richie Havens

The folk legend plays as part of the River to River Festival's four-night tribute to the 40th anniversary of Woodstock (same year as the moon landing, remember?), where Havens rose to fame for his rendition of the spiritual "Motherless Child" (aka "Freedom"). He's especially important to my ongoing investigation of the history of folk (more about that to come). Havens was also heavily name-checked by Bob Lind ("Elusive Butterfly"), in one of my favorite interviews I've done.

Castle Clinton
7 PM

Freedom - Richie Havens

this is how we do things in the country - Slim Cessna's Auto Club

BRM knows party III: The Big Time

Illustrious iconoclastic publication Beyond Race Magazine is turning 3 years old on Tuesday, and to celebrate they've booked a rather incredible lineup at Andrew W.K.'s premiere downtown showspot. All of the featured artists appear well in the upcoming summer issue, where you'll also find my feature on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, from which an extended interview with frontman Kip Berman ran in a previous post here.

I don't often use the overdone Internet-meme superlative "epic," but at the risk of overstating myself, this is by far the most epic party in American history.

Advance tickets can be purchased at the Santos website.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

When Wavves met Woods met incompetent doorpeople

Annoyingly ubiquitous blog-rocker of the moment Wavves (confirmed alcoholic train wreck Nathan Williams, who nevertheless looked sweet and innocent and a little too small for the stage in his skate-rat ballcap), Tuesday at the Bowery Ballroom. I don't know if this San Diego boy is the real thing, but his formula and his hooks, especially on "So Bored" are, and needless to say, I love anyone who obviously has as big a stiffie for Brian Wilson as I do (e.g. Adam Baker of Annuals). Wilson's influence is what music needs, now and always.

Weird Brooklyn openers Woods (singer Jeremy Earl and bassist Kevin Morby pictured above) played louder and more chaotically than their records would suggest, a la Vetiver. They share the same creepy fondness for falsetto as Wavves, and are usually described as some hybrid of "folk," but in my opinion it's only under the most generous definition, in that some sort of acoustic instrument can usually be heard somewhere in the mix of melodic goofiness and experimentation. They make the kind of music that make you want to learn more about the band and where they came from, which is always a good thing. This also might have something to do with the presence of G. Lucas Crane (also of Nonhorse), who, at the Bowery show, knelt on the floor in front of the other members fiddling with the sound board, bobbing his wild blond weave, his head and mouth covered by an apparatus that looked like the most painful orthodontic headgear I've seen.

Let me also note that on Tuesday, not for the first time, the lovely doorperson at the Bowery failed to find my name on the list I received confirmation from the publicist that it should have been on. This problem seems to be one unique to the Bowery Presents empire (Mercury Lounge, Music Hall, Terminal 5, etc.), and unlike most of the truly indie (and I use the word in the conventional sense) venues where usually they can call the band or the manager or whoever to come straighten things out, there seems to be very little one can do about it, unless you have the phone number for your contact readily at hand, which I rarely do. Because of this, I suspect that it's the venue management communication that broke down, rather than the publicist, label, or my editors. This is something that really needs to change if they want anybody reviewing their shows in the future. Not I nor my employer have the funds to shell out $15 at the door every time I write a review a show. This also explains why a real review of this show will probably not appear in its usual spot. I encourage any other poor scribes who've had this experience to speak up.

However, this gave me the opportunity for my first live tweet of the show, which you can revisit by clicking the link on the sidebar. Man, I really stuck it to 'em.

So Bored - Wavves

Rain On - Woods

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fort Greene Park becomes a public space

A Public Space has long (well, since 2005, but that's longer than I've been in New York) been one of my favorite journals to find excellent writing that's unexpected but not gimmicky (usually), like their clever "If You See Something, Say Something" series. Tonight, they're coming to the lovely and local (to me) Fort Greene Park to do a writing with three of their writers. I never miss an opportunity to promote events in my hood.

Also of note, is that the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, the impressive obalisque you see above, has at some point this year been restored to its former majesty, instead of being inaccessible behind orange plastic fences and covered in ugly scaffolding, as it was ever since I've been living near Fort Greene. The monument, and the impressive stone steps leading up to it, as I discovered several weeks ago during a David's stay, are worthy of a D.C.-caliber walkdown.

Michael Schwartz is a poet, playwright, and Coney Island resident. He is an awardee of the Interpreting Brooklyn Project, founded by the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Elizabeth Gaffney is a writer and editor at large for A Public Space. Her first novel, Metropolis, was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. She is now at work on a second novel and a story collection.

L.J. Davis is a prize-winning journalist and author of A Meaningful Life. A former Guggenheim Fellow and the winner of a National Magazine Award, he lives in Brooklyn.

It all gets started tonight at 6:30 at the Fort Greene Park Visitor Center.

Directions: G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Ave; 2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins St; B, M, Q, R to DeKalb Ave

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

At-Large releases B-Sides and Rarities

The latest incarnation (and there have been many) of At-Large Magazine's Mixtape went live today. This is a magazine whose previous theme issues were delightfully bizarre, like Aiport/Motel, Teeth, Fame and Jungle. This one is B-Sides and Rarities, following on the heels of their very successful A-Sides. In other words, it's decent material that dates from basement sessions with bad acoustics, where something went wrong, like when the drummer coughed just before the end of the track, or sound guy spilled his yerba mate all over the mixing board. (Just kiddin' friends, it's great as always.) Naturally, there's music: this time by Piedra del Sol.

It features poetry by Benjamin Dickerson, Gregory Lawless, Nicole Steinberg, Megan Moriarty, Eric Amling, & Florencia Varela, and a translation project between Patrick Kosiewicz and Najwa Masri. There's also a poetic response to art featuring work by J. Mae Barizo and Mira O'Brien. Fiction by Roof Alexander and Patrick James.

Next up: Biology. Here's what I'm thinking: sheep's brain in a jar. I can't lose.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pack your suspenders, I'll come meet your plane

Last night at the Slipper Room, I witnessed the indomitable writers of Featherproof Books get up onstage to read stories they'd crafted from stuff like vaguely icky greeting cards with cartoon bears on them and CDs with music composed by Barry McGuire ("Eve of Destruction"), to coffee mugs inexplicably touting internet abbreviations, to a pair of erotic suspenders. Keep in mind, if I were them, I, too, would be a bit crazed by the hours and hours they've spent packed into a van at this point. It was all part of the cross-country Dollar Store Tour. Observe:

Aaron Burch, editor of Hobart, pre-strip. (Sorry I didn't get that pic.)

Zach Dodson, framed by heads (I don't know, it kind of looks deliberate, don't you think?) IMHO, he's just as funny an actor as he is a writer...on MyBook and SpaceFace.

The lovely Amelia Gray, author of the just-out AM/PM, a book of very short fiction. (Don't worry, I won't say the f-word).

During a chat with Amelia, I asked her how they'd survived two weeks already in a van without killing each other, and she revealed that the group worked out one simple principle for surviving the long hours in the van -- whoever's most likely to throw up, gets the window seat.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dollar store junk + literature = gold?

Featherproof Books is a Chicago-based independent publisher, who, this summer, have loaded 7 or so of their very earnest and talented writers into a van like some kind of hyper-literate indie-rock band, and taking their show on a month-long cross-country tour. Tonight, the Dollar Store Tour is landing in The Slipper Room in NYC, at which I hope to join some of my elusive acquaintances from the local blogerati to watch D.E. Rasso, Robert Lopez, Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton and Jac Jemc read stories they've written based on broken waffle irons, CB radios, and fake Tiffany lamps.

Faithful readers will note that I'm a rabid backer of weird literary events, or really any literary event that manages to break out of the tweed-jacketed-guy-sitting-on-a-stool-reading-excerpts-from-a-book-about-his-childhood-in-1953 mode, or twentysomething-overdressed-girl-desperately-trying-to-make-something-literary-about-that-time-she-curled-up-on-her-couch-for-three-days-waiting-for-her-ex-boyfriend-to-call-back mode, so the originality of this event excites me thoroughly, and I'm looking forward to talking with some of the readers about just how badly they want to kill each other after two and half weeks in a van together.

The event, which kicks off tonight at 8 and will cost you a $1 donation, also features DJ sets from Take the Handle.

The Slipper Room is on the Lower East Side at 167 Orchard at Stanton St.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Can they still call them pool parties?

The announcement took forever, but the Summer 2009 schedule of Jelly NYC Pool Parties is set to kick off July 12, despite, you know, no longer being in an actual pool. (Come to think of it, the title was misleading even before, but we're not here to point fingers.) Relocated from the McCarren pool in Williamsburg to East River State Park, the first installment will feature reunited post-punkers Mission of Burma, with Fucked Up, Ponytail and Jemina Pearl of Be your Own Pet.

I'm in the minority in this, I've never been a fan of sweaty outdoor summer shows where you have to stand elbow-to-elbow with every poor college undergrad in the city who's decided being hip for the evening by smuggling in warm bottles of Corona in their underwear.

But New York offers so many outrageously good free offerings in the summer that it feels foolish sometimes not to go to these shows, and get in your requisite Summer Fun (TM).

So for sure, I'll be at August 30 grand finale, which features the dazed, summer-perfect beauty of Beach House and next-Fleet-Foxes-I'm-sure-of-it retro rockers Grizzly Bear. But I'd also recommend checking out the August 2 Round Robin show of Deerhunter, No Age and Dan Deacon, if only because it's the perfect triage of Brooklyn ambient-noise-punk genre we're just going to call, for convenience's sake, That Sound (TM). For free. God bless summer.

Southern Point - Grizzly Bear

Gila - Beach House

cover me (slowly) - Deerhunter

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Your Independence Day lo-fi show pick, courtesy of Woodsist

Friday July 3rd @ 979 BROADWAY BACKYARD


9:00pm :: Blank Dogs
8:15pm ::: Psychedelic Horseshit
7:30pm :::: caUSE co-MOTION!
6:45pm ::::: the Mayfair Set
6:15pm :::::: Gary War
5:45pm ::::::: Little Girls
5:15pm :::::::: Kid Romance
4:45pm ::::::::: Beachniks
4:15pm :::::::::: the Gutsies

979 Broadway btwn Myrtle Ave & Ditmars St | Bushwick, Brooklyn
JMZ-Myrtle, L-Jefferson, G-Myrtle-Willoughby | DOORS –4PM– | $15 | all ages

Buy tickets online:

Saturday July 4th @ 979 BROADWAY BACKYARD


9:45pm : THEE OH SEES
9:00pm :: VIVIAN GIRLS
8:15pm ::: Kurt Vile
7:30pm :::: Woods
6:45pm ::::: Tyvek
6:00pm :::::: Dum Dum Girls
5:15pm ::::::: the Fresh & Onlys
4:30pm :::::::: Brilliant Colors
3:45pm ::::::::: Ganglians
3:15pm :::::::::: the Great Excape —— reunion, pre-Home Blitz
2:45pm ::::::::::: the Beets
2:15pm :::::::::::: Real Estate
1:45pm ::::::::::::: German Measles
1:15pm :::::::::::::: Beach Fossils

979 Broadway btwn Myrtle Ave & Ditmars St | Bushwick, Brooklyn
JMZ-Myrtle, L-Jefferson, G-Myrtle-Willoughby | DOORS –1PM– | $15 | all ages

I Lie Awake - caUSE Co-MOTION!

Breathin Out - Kurt Vile

rain on - Woods

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night...

The results of the 2009 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing are, as of today, in. The contest began in 1982 at the San Jose State University English department, as a salute to the the English novelist Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. His 1830 detective novel Paul Clifford began with that famous dark and stormy night, repeated ad nauseum in a million typewritten manuscripts Snoopy wrote while sitting on top of his doghouse, not to mention, a little more competently, by Madeleine L'Engle.

The turgidness of these sentences speak for themselves, but again this year I have been shocked and amused to conclude that some of these supposedly-putrid openings are only a hair's-breadth away from stuff I've read in actual fiction workshops, both undergrad and graduate, by writers attempting to be profound. Here are some of my personal highlights among the many dishonorable mentions. I invite you to read them, as well as my comments below, and takes your choice whether to laugh or cry:

Winner: Purple Prose

The gutters of Manhattan teemed with the brackish slurry indicative of a significant though not incapacitating snowstorm three days prior, making it seem that God had tripped over Hoboken and spilled his smog-flavored slurpie all over the damn place.

Eric Stoveken
Allentown, PA

Indichik says: Recalls a particularly wretched first chapter of a so-called "noir" detective novel turned into my first semester MFA workshop. The very first day. Needless to say, I thought I'd made the biggest mistake of my life.

Miscellaneous Dishonorable Mentions

"They clang to me like horse flies on cow dung," said angry, shivering onion farmer Jesper Lunk, whose clothes had been eaten off him by a plague of locusts except for his boxer shorts, which were a comfortable cool blend of rayon and nylon in a floral pattern with a three-button fly and a snug elastic waistband.

James Macdonald
Vancouver, B.C.

Indichik says: So incredibly stupid. Yet hilarious.

I awoke in my sleeper on the way from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, my nightmare riven by a train of thought that abruptly stopped me in my tracks with cataclysmic, explosive, and yet equal and opposing force, like a train on its way from Rotterdam to Amsterdam; then I realized I was on the wrong train and headed for Rotterdam, instead of Amsterdam.

Joe Dykes
Denver, CO

Indichik says: Someone trying to sound cultured and sophisticated by throwing around the names of random European cities they've never been to.

On a lovely day during one of the finest Indian summers anyone could remember--a season the Germans call "old wives' summer," obviously never having had Native Americans to name things after, but plenty of old wives, and "Indian summer" in German would refer to the natives of India in any case, which would make even less sense than the current naming system--on such a day, however named, John Baxter fell in the creek and drowned.

Deanna Stewart
Heidelberg, Germany

Indichik says: The last clause kills me. Reminds me of those stories that can't even decide from the first sentence what tone they want to take toward their subject matter. You know it only gets worse from there.

Tinkerbell landed softly on the bedpost in a sparkle of Industrial Light & Magic, handed the packet of cigarettes to a rather stubbly 'Pete' Pan and, seeing his little green tights strewn carelessly on the floor and a still sleeping Wendy lying naked beside him, quickly realized they were now a very long way from Never Never Land.

Hugh Trethowan
Bath, U.K.

Indichik says: Pauly K., this one's for you.

BRM knows party II