Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lift That Thing...

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More from the DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival. This interactive installation focused on dreams. Volunteers were asked to lie in the bed, remember their dreams, and write a summary in black ink on a white ribbon that was later hung from the bed's canopy. I, as usual, had many vivid dreams to draw from..

I dug the lime-green outlines that encircled the festival's installation area...

Dreams, including my own, floating in the autumn wind....

I have no idea what these dudes are doing nor what's up with the horizontal facial stripes that look like Wite-Out....

Think hard, JP!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Before Hudson It Looked Like This

On Saturday I visited the Museum of NYC for the first time. They have several great exhibits to celebrate NYC's 400th anniversary of being 'discovered' by Henry Hudson in 1609. You can still see this! It runs until Columbus Day weekend...

Most notably is the computer regeneration of
what Manhattan looked like physically at various points in its long history..

Manhattan was and is host to a wide variety of flora and fauna. It's an unusual ecosystem if only for being located in the tidal estuary where the fresh waters of the Hudson mingle with the Atlantic's salty spray...

Even the
ceiling projector is shaped like Manhattan!

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Brian!

A big happy birthday hug to my close friend (and ex) Brian, pictured here in an 'MOBC moment...' That's Museum of Brian's Childhood, a metaphorical place he lovingly curates! Here, in 70s garb, are Brian, his sister Carolyn, and their father, the late, great Harry Hall....

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A House You Can Live With

House music for listening? You bet! Basement Jaxx surfaced in 1999 to universal critical acclaim, refuting the notion that house music can't be melodic, interesting, and clever... BJ is a UK-based DJ duo famous for a wildly inventive weekly club night at 'Rooty' in Brixton, South London, back in the mid-90s...

They're insanely catchy without being simplistic 'clubble-gum...' They're back again with a sprightly fifth album, and today's Song of the Week is the single 'Raindrops..'

This group's catalogue is so strong that a video retrospective is an absolute must, and we provide it below...

A house group worth seeing live? You bet! Watch Basement Jaxx rocking out with 'Raindrops' live in Birmingham back in April...

Back in 1999, from their debut 'Remedy,' it was the flamenco-inflected, vocoder-ed 'Rendez-Vu' that put Basement Jaxx on the musical map...

From the same album, my favorite, the raucous 'Where's Your Head At' with its very textured Gary Numan synth sample...

Here's the Bollywood-rific video for 'Romeo,' the big hit from their second album 'Rooty,' named after their Brixton beginning.. This should have been a US r&b hit, but wasn't....


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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Under the DUMBO Bridge Festival

IMG_0165Yesterday I had a full day outside, a crisp, partly-sunny autumn day.. Morning I took in the DUMBO Under The Bridge Art Festival, an outdoor affair, with JP & Donna.

That's going on all this weekend, though currently being rained on : - (

This week my blog will be peppered with festival photos...

This installation is called 'New York City Boomtown 2006 by Artcodex.. It 'creates a commentary about the failing boom markets of art and release estate by recreating a post gold rush town.'

Exhibit in White, offseting the day's darkest, cloudiest moment... Later, the sun peeked through...

DUMBO of course is a neighborhood exactly where its initials say it is: Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass...


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Saturday, September 26, 2009

We Blew This Up (Thankfully)

Novi Sad, Serbia. The town's main bridge, here in its rebuilt incarnation, was blown up in 1999 by NATO forces to help force Serbia to stop the war in Kosovo. Death toll, War in Kosovo: thousands. Death toll, bridge bombing: 1.

Novi Sad's memorial to the
poor schnook who happened to be on that bridge during an air raid...

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Ready, Aim, Sing!

Last night I grabbed a bite and caught a concert with my youngest friend, John Wiske.
We saw UK rock quartet The Rifles at Mercury Lounge, a 250-person venue the size of a bar, and stood literally 10 feet from the band, who looked and acted like four straightforward, pleasant twentysomethings enjoying being a band. The Rifles offer tight structure, muscular guitar, and catchy choruses (drowned live by the guitars, but delightful in the studio). Here's a sample, their video for 'Repeat Offender.' The meal was at Nolita House on E Houston. Crab cakes and white wine...

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

From Palestine With Love

I must recommend to you a charming and touching film: it's 'Amreeka,' about a middle-class Palestinian woman and her teenage son trying to make a fresh start in Ilinois. It was filmed in Ramallah and Manitoba! This preview gives you the flavor without at all giving away the movie:

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Valuable Lesson!

This was voted 'best commercial in Europe!' It is, as Steve put it, as hilarious as it is ingenious.. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This light lunch in Budapest was as tasty as it looks. Extra points for home-made
spätzel,which by any other name are just a carbo-rific, and, which make the perfect absorber for a tangy sauce...

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Back

Way back....It's the first day of autumn, and I must be in denial, since today's Song of the Week is beach blanket fodder...

The edgy, twangy 'Love Is A Wave' rushes over you like waves of garage rock and surf music played with the urgency of 70s punk...

It's by New York's own Crystal Stilts, an angular quintet built on Brad Hargett's vocals and JB Townsend's guitar licks, with distaff drums supplied by Frankie Rose, formerly of Vivian Girls (see SOTW of June 22, 2009). Frankie tried to split her time between two bands, a fool's errand, and chose the Stilts.

Here's the extremely clever and inventive video for 'Love Is A Wave...'

The Stilts' just-released second album is led off by the delightfully drony 'Departure,'
I almost - almost - almost - chose this over 'Love Is A Wave' as the Song of the Week... almost... The video invokes student protests of yore...

For a change of pace, the
hippie-rific 'Prismatic Room' from the Stilts' 2008 debut...

Also from the debut, the deliciously retro song 'Sugarbaby...' The Stilts chose dancers to perform a dance called 'da stanky leg...'

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

72 Years Later...

Our first beamed-to-our-TV movie, from, Netflix, was the 1937 classic 'Grand Illusion' about prisoners of war and fading class differences in World War I.
One of two Jean Renoir film to frequently make '100 Best Foreign Film Lists' of prominent film critics... The other is 'Rules of The Game...' Here Renoir discusses his masterpiece...

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Saturday, September 19, 2009


Netflix movies
beamed instantly to my flat screen, at no extra charge, thanks to this nifty $99 device... It's the Roku Netflix Video Player, and it's the size of my hand...

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Yes Time For Blog?

Amazing the things that stick in your head from childhood - I've never even seen the play/movie/50s TV Series 'No Time For Sergeants' but the phrase rattles in my head when I contemplate having less time to blog now that I'm once again swamped with work. This will have to be more off the top of my head, though my photographic focus will certainly continue...

Today I'm feeling just a tad sick.. I'm hoping to ward this bug off with exercise, nutrition & sleep...

Much to catch up on! This week JP & I saw a the terrific 'God of Carnage,' this year's Tony winner for Best Play, and Sunday we saw a lovely Palestinian film, 'Amreeka,' shot mostly in Manitoba. No kidding.. More on these over the weekend, I hope... And now, I must skedaddle.. But, I shall leave you with an Original Image®...

I took this low-rent waterfall image inside Chelsea Market, that vast maze of an 'indie' mall occupying a former factory on a whole city block with eateries, clotheries, and other-eries...
Location: between 9th and 10th Avenues, between 14th and 15th Streets. I was there in May. We had great ice cream, I remember....

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Neon-Bright Desserts

You always knew I'd get my just desserts. Here, in clueless flash photography, are desserts from two weeks ago, when we took visiting Thomas to postmodern
Bombay Talkie over on 9th Avenue. Here's Coconut Sorbet with Sweet Chili Pomegranate Fruit Compote.

More Coconut Sorbet, this time with Carrot Halwa Ball with Coconut Flakes...

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Like Street Royalty

I couldn't resist the photo op when I sighted this discarded sofa in front of a mountain of trash on 23rd St.
We saw this at around 7pm, and, 90 minutes later..... it was gone....

This reminds me of my South American ex-boyfriend, Andres, who was flabbergasted by the quality of what gets thrown out in these here parts. Alas, he frequently 'rescued' these offcasts, and I would come home and find them decorating our apartment!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Denis!

Big birthday hugs for my good friend Denis across the waters... I can't believe Denis turns 40 today... When I met him he was barely out of school!

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Woo Hoo! Two Years of SOTW!!!

In which we launch a third year of choice, highly diverse musical nuggets by doing a gig with a funky Italodisco synth piano line with infectious melodies, vocoder boogie, and huge soul divas with super-pipes...

It's Scottish electronic musician, singer, and songwriter Calvin Harris with 'Ready For The Weekend,' and yes, this really was recorded in 2009, not in 1991 or 1988...

Although born in 1984 himself, he seems enamored of yestersounds, as can be seen by the title and lead single of his debut album, 'I Created Disco' and 'Acceptable In the 80s,' respectively... Harris is on a roll, as his new single and second album just topped the charts in his native UK... and boy does this video rock! It's only Monday, and I'm thoroughly 'Ready For The Weekend..'

Here's the irresistible (for me) 'Acceptable in the 80s' from 2007, live at NYC's rather small and intimate Mercury Lounge...

His #1 UK pop hit (last week!) is 'I'm Not Alone,' which starts out like a ballad but raves up into the dance oeuvre Harris was born to create....

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Budapest's Many Faces

Here's the Plaza of Heroes, gateway to a City Park, an enclave of museums, attractions, and the mammoth Széchenyi Baths...

A gallery of Hungarian Jewish lives destroyed by the Holocaust, painstakingly brought to life by Budapest's heartbreaking Holocaust Memorial Center. This is Europe's first government-created Holocaust Museum, with a purpose of acknowledging Hungary's complicity in this dark hour of humanity. The museum is built crooked and out of sync, reflecting the warped, twisted Nazi vision..

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

South By Southeast - Ljubljana's Alpine Perch

e close our Balkan Film Festival in the Alps... JP had left to resume work, the tour was over, but I soldiered on to ex-Yugoslavia's northern capitals, Croatia's Zagreb and Slovenia's Ljubljana. Here's a panoramic view of Ljubljana from its castle tower, at sunset. Tiny Slovenia was always more Alpine than Balkan, and it's the first of the ex-Yugoslavian republics to join the EU. Unlike New York State, Slovenia has civil unions for same-sex couples... Hint, hint, Albany....

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Friday, September 11, 2009

South By Southeast - Impossibly Beautiful Dubrovnik

O'er the ramparts of the two-kilometer city walls we walked, under the broiling Croatian sun....

High up a cliffside, JP bids farewell....

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

South By Southeast - Kotor: City, Fortress, Fjord

Montenegro, like Croatia, has a breathtaking coastline, kissed by geography and climate, etched by history and architecture. Kotor is a well-preserved Italianate medieval walled city, nestled in a fjord, protected by miles of fortress walls built into the mountain. It's a UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site. We went sea kayaking and swimming in the fjord waters and tasted what paradise must feel like...

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

South By Southeast - Ostrog Monastery-In-The-Mountain

After a night in Montenegro's Ostrog Monastery and a climb with the pilgrims, we barreled back down the mountain in a van....

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Take A Great Trip...

..and I don't mean ex-Yugoslavia... Go see 'Taking Woodstock,' the Ang Lee film based on the memoirs of Elliot Tiber (far left), the long-suffering, closeted Jewish gay man who made Woodstock happen while trying to rescue his eccentric parents' failing Catskills motel..

This lively trailer doesn't show the whole movie and is but a foretaste of the great fun this film offers...

The film offers a take on the landmark festival that is hilarious, sweet, perhaps rose-colored and decidedly personal and peripheral. Don't walk in expecting to hear music, for there's barely a note... Director Ang Lee's daring decision to cast stand-up comedian Demetri Martin as Elliot pays off in spades, as Martin inhabits Elliot with a mix of subtlety, wistfulness, and nervous, creative energy. Here's a snippet of Martin's live act...

The supporting cast is terrific! Elliot's cantankerous Mom is an unrecognizable Imelda Staunton (of Vera Drake!), Emile Hirsch plays a Vietnam vet misfit, Liev Schreiber is a transvestite security guard, Eugene Levy is an enterprising chocolate milk producer, and Paul Dano appears briefly as a bi-curious stoner from the West Coast... Liev Schreiber is particularly brilliant. Watch him discuss the film...

It's another bulls-eye for Ang Lee, an all-time favorite director, who gave us 'Brokeback Mountain,' 'The Ice Storm,' 'Crouching Tiger,' and many other memorable movie experiences... For a Taiwanese immigrant and a low-key, straight, family man, he has an uncanny feel for our collective memory and he understands gay concerns and passions - besides 'Brokeback' and 'Woodstock,' Lee invited us to 'The Wedding Banquet.'

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Monday, September 07, 2009

My ex-Yugoslavia trip videos return Wednesday... Tomorrow, we take a look at 'Taking Woodstock..'

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You Don't Know Jack, Part 2

No, not Jack White again. Or even Jack Black. Today's Song of the Week, "Tonight's Today," is by Jack Peñate (pronounced 'pinyatee'), a UK musician who's very hard to categorize! "Tonight's Today" is all at once, lively, haunting, and retro... Picture Paolo Coelho having a party in the Sonora Desert, circa 1973...

Jack's two albums have, earned him a loyal critical following and, in the UK, modest radio play...

For once, you really do have to watch the video, below, for it's superb black-and-white cinematography, directed by the ingenious Alma Har'el...

I like that Jack's website home page lists his favorite tracks/lyrics of the moment.. Jack's playing the Mercury Lounge September 15-16, maybe I'll try to get tickets. That's an intimate venue on East Houston that fits only 250 spectators.. It's 'sister venue,' Bowery Ballroom down on Delancey St, fits 575...

Anyway, here's that spectacular 'Tonight's Today' I promised...

So many styles this guy has. "Second Minute or Hour,' from his first album, sounds like British Invasion filtered through outdoor NY rock circa 1973....Me and Julio down by the Mersey...

"Be The One" is 70s pop classicism all the way, with its
jaunty organic bass and r&b backing vocals, peppered with an 80s synth squiggle and vocals that emulate The Cure... While not black-and-white, this video's palate is darker colors...

This slow-starting, zippy ska midtempo number is 'Torn On The Platform,' Peñate's breakthrough song in the UK..
I like the cartoon cutouts in the otherwise organic video clip.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

South By Southeast - Minaret Over Mostar

Mostar is a spectacular medieval city split by a translucent green river in a deep rocky gorge, spanned by a high bridge from which daring divers take the big plunge (once tourists have assembled 50 euros consideration). Mostar bridge survived half a millenium. Its destruction among the Yugoslav war's most depressing moments; its reconstruction is a triumph, a balm, and a hymn to survival...

The mosque's interior was the lovely simplicity of color and symmetry...

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

South By Southeast - Sarajevo Sunset

Peering down at sunset from the Yellow Fortress, we feast our eyes on a panorama of scenic Sarajevo, which is roaring back to life from the dark days of 1990s, when they lived for over three years surrounded by snipers and short on all of life's basic needs...

Friendly, warm, and hospitable is Sarajevo's moslem soul. The city's 97 mosques call to prayer five times a day, mostly with pre-recorded chanting, but the two largest mosques still send a cantor up that minaret for five round-trips, day in and day out. Give a little listen to a video even my obtrusive finger could not ruin....

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Friday, September 04, 2009

South by Southeast - Belgrade Dinner

In Belgrade we stayed in student dorms far, far from the city center.. But that neighborhood did have a restaurant replete with local color...

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

I'm up way early, today, it's gradually sinking in that vacation is truly over and I'm jumping back into the river of work....

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South By Southeast - Belgrade Kalimgedan

More video travelogue... Belgrade's heart is Kalimegdan Fortress, a park high up over the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers... Here we are, taking in the view as our tour guide, Bojana, provides background and context..

Hours later, JP and I
strolled through the park and listened to an 'oompah-band' of police musicians...

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

South By Southeast - Budapest Gone To Market

Urban Legend tells that the Eskimo have over 70 words for snow; if this were true, than Hungarian would surely have twice as many words for paprika, on sale at the City's Central Market...

They were selling, but I wasn't buying... I did, however, try their blood sausage for a 9am snack : - )

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

South By Southeast - Budapest

Today we kick off a week or so of travel videos from our recent foray through Southeastern Europe aka The Balkans or ex-Yugoslavia.
Our starting point was just north of the area, in Budapest, where we caught our breath for a few days before The Less Traveled Path... From the roof of Hungary's National Gallery (and ex-Royal Palace), in the heart of Buda, JP and I took in this panoramic view of the city...

Bi-sected by the Danube into the modern 'Pest' area and the more historic 'Buda' castle district, Hungary's capital offers generous dollops of history, architecture, moxie, and an impenetrable language. Here we are high up in St, Stephan's Cathedral..

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