Monday, January 31, 2011

What Rhymes With Atmosphere?

"the cat sits here; chat to me dear; sat with a beer; that was the year..." This all has nothing to do with our Song of the Week, 'Windstorm' by the NY-based dream pop-electronic-shoegazing trio School Of Seven Bells, consisting of Benjamin Curtis of Secret Machines and identical twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza.

They make very ethereal but catchy musical soundscapes, imagine Enya with more muscle and tighter sound structure. While their debut was well-received, the group really nailed it with their sophomore outing, 'Disconnect From Desire,' and its two memorable singles, both of which you can hear - and watch - in the clips provided below...

Named after a mythical South American pickpocket training academy, the group met when their acts were opening bands on an Interpol tour, and hit it off so well that they each left their groups, and moved in together to build a home recording studio. Actually this trio became a duo in October when Claudia baled.


'Bye Bye Bye', live in the studio:

From their 2008 debut 'Alpinisms,' it's 'Half Asleep'

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's That Time Again!

My birthday's tomorrow! And Sunil's and David's are also upon us. Time for another
Three Cake Party tonight! Here are 2009's Three Cakes:

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Dude, Where's My Ice Pick?

Water main broke on Monday in 6F weather, encasing several 2nd Ave cars in very thikc icicles...

Watch the Video:

Local press couldn't resist...

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gay-Themed Dorito Ads

...that you won't see during the Super Bowl... they're also-rans from a 'Crash the Super Bowl' contest inviting amateurs to submit home-made Doritos clips.
They're a bit stereotypical and suggestive, but ultimately funny...

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


For today's post, some photos that surfaced when I Googled for images of 'ridiculous'... First, a dog in a lion costume..,

Second, a ridiculous tattoo in a ridiculous place...

And finally, a ridiculous pool accessory...

Coming tomorrow: the most ridiculous product...

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Funky Sweet Spot

That's what we hit with this week's groovy jam. After five years, one of my all-time favorites is back with a terrific album..

It's 'All Good In The Hood' by Jamiroquai, the superb British jazz-funk-disco British sextet whose front man and mastermind, Jason 'Jay' Kay, who sings like Stevie Wonder (quite an accomplishment for a white dude), and looks like a hunkier Beck in an array of elaborate hats and headgear.

Jamiroquai has produced seven flawless albums since they debuted back in '93, and have sold 25 million copies of them in the UK and worldwide, on the strength of dozen lovely hit singles....

Here's our Song of the Week, 'All Good In The Hood,' wicked sweet live..

Many Americans were exposed to Jamiroquai in 2004's hit indie film, 'Napoleon Dyanmite,' in which the group's 1999 smash 'Canned Heat' blew the roof off a school assembly...

Let's not forget their 1996 breakthrough hit 'Virtual Insanity...'

Let's not forget their current single, the wildly catchy 'White Knuckle Ride'...

So many Jamiroquai favorites... Let's end with the shimmering 'Love Foolosophy' from 2001...

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Monday, January 24, 2011


New York, while not as frozen as this picture, feels a bit brutal at 6F! Not counting the wind chill! Song of The Week coming tonight..

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's A Mad, Mad, But High-Quality World

Icy January will reach a frigid crescendo in New York tomorrow with highs in the mid-teens, but this weekend was so chilly in the low twenties that I wore longjohns, thick gloves, a hat, and the extra lining in my winter coast.

We saw no films, but were instead blown away by the final two episodes Mad Men's Season 3, in which JFK is shot (one spoiler I couldn't avoid reading...) and the cast grapples with exhilarating but risky changes as they roll with the slings and arrows of career disruption.

I like "The New Television" - just 13 episodes per year, but every frame, each line of dialogue is critically acclaimable. I hear Mad Men is unlikely to exceed 5 or 6 seasons, which is too bad. We've travelled from 1960 to 1964, through the America of my earliest memories, and I'd be fascinated to watch these characters face the late 60s and the 70s...

Interestingly, in the 1960s career threats from corporate mergers and reorganizations were less common than today, except perhaps in the high-stakes, high-risk advertising game.. In that respect, the Season 3 travails of the Mad Men cast of characters are achingly familiar...

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Knew Him When

Even back in 1996, I was certain that my friend and ex-co-worker Paul
would amount to something..

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That's It! (Andy For Adults)

I love the 'eureka' moment of finally identifying a song you've heard in the past without ever knowing who or what it was..
In my single-digit years, back in the 60s, I heard this instrumental, usually led by a horn section, á la Herb Alpert. On Thursday JP finally identified it for me, by playing its very vocal original on YouTube. It's Andy Williams' 'Music To Watch Girls By'.

Williams, nearly forgotten today, was an un-hip but very sweet crooner who became a 60s superstar for the older crowd that didn't 'feel' rock and roll. A fixture on 'easy listening' (i.e. non-rock) radio, Williams racked up 18 gold albums and his TV specials were a 60s staple.. Oddly, he's most identified with two songs that were NOT among his many hits. The first is 'Moon River,' which he sang at the Oscars in 1961, when it won Best Song:

His other signature tune is Frankie Valli's über-romantic 1966 'Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You,' also
remade as club classics by Boystown Gang (1981) and Pet Shop Boys (1992, in a medley with 'Where The Streets Have No Name' that oddly works well).

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Shake Well

Today we salute magnesium hydroxide, aka Mg(OH)2 or "milk of magnesia," which was widely used in the 20th century as an antacid and laxative. Discovered in 1829 by the personal doctor of a British military bigwig, it was only patented in 1873. Seven years later, Charles Henry Philips patented his milky version, which was a runaway hit. Interestingly, Mg(OH)2 can be used as an anti-presperant or to treat canker sores topically...

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Folks Dressed Up Like Eskimoooos

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Jack and Jackie's Grandchildren...

...are Jewish, like me! Surrounding their Mom, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, are Rose, Tatiana and Jack, who are now 22, 20, and 18, respectively...

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Active Ingredient

...is bismuth sub-salicylate, otherwise known as '2-hydroxy-2H,4H-benzo[d]1,3-dioxa-2-bismacyclohexan-4-one.'

Just how it works 'is not well documented,' says Wikipedia, but is assumed to be some combo of: a) coating irritated tissues, thus slowing expulsion of fluids into digestive system; b) reducing inflammation of stomach and intestine lining and; c) killing some bacteria;

Once nicknamed 'The Pink Stuff' in early advertisements, it is also the color of Argentina's presidential palace (ie La Casa Rosada, literally 'The Pink House'

This is Bismuth, the key element in the formula:

And this is the aforementioned Pink House...

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nha Trang!

Nha Trang, Vietnam is well known for its pristine beaches and excellent scuba diving and
is fast becoming a popular destination for international tourists, attracting large numbers of backpackers as well as more affluent travelers on the Southeast Asia circuit. It is already very popular with Vietnamese tourists. Nha Trang Bay is widely considered as amongst the world's most beautiful bays.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Call Of The Undertow

I end this quiet and frosty three-day weekend with the brooding, memorable 'Undertow' by LA-based experimental art-rock Warpaint.

This all-female group was formed on Valentine's Day 2004 by four childhood friends and took a few years to gain traction and record songs, finally breaking through late last year with 'The Fool,' their much-admired debut.

Piquant as an anchovy, but more downbeat and subtle, this group's music just creeps up on you...

Great, artsy clip for 'Undertow' using tweenage actors and band members...

For contrast, check out the band's upbeat but lo-fi 'Beetles' from early last year:

Here's an intimate clip for 'Elephant' the band recorded in 2009:

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lunch In The Mekong Delta

It's very cold in New York, headed for 9F tonight... So here's a post remembering warmer times in Vietnam's Mekong Delta last August.
We had a 'homestay' there for two nights in a family-run guest house. On Day 1 they regaled us with an eye-popping lunch banquet, featuring a whole fish fried and standing on end in a 'napkin holder' made of wood and bamboo...

Here are hundreds of spring rolls, that ubiquitous Vietnamese snack, waiting to be fried.

Like Norma Desmond, this spring roll is ready for its close-up! The rice-paper wrapping is so transparent! The next day, we visited a family run rice-paper producer, a cottage industry...

Lunch is served, and the main dish was truly a stand-up fish!

Here are the thoroughly fried but finger-sized spring rolls in final form...


We enjoyed this lunch out on the terrace of the guest-house. The premises were modest, but charming. I particularly enjoyed the hammocks...

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Aaron Holsberg Version 51.0?

My birthday is just
two weeks away!

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Seven Years of Itchy Blogging!

It's a milestone of sorts. Below, I re-run my very first post, from January 14, 2004, all those years ago...


Entering the Off Off Off Zone

Off Off Off Broadway can be amazing.
In a beat-up old office building, today my friend Christi Aguiar and I saw "Clash by Night," a rarely-staged Clifford Odets gem from the 1940s, produced on a shoe-string and showcasing excellent acting all around, especially Abby in the title character of Mae. The Shins, in contrast, make tuneful indie rock in New Mexico

This is Clifford Odets on the left, and The Shins on the right:

I lost my new headphones in the slush. Uggh

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pok Ta Pok

That´s the sound of conference attendees navigating the very gusty winds of Cancun... Last night´s party at the Pok Ta Pok golf course (diagramed at left) was an endless parade of gourmet Latin American hors d´oeuvres and entreés, from ceviche to picanha to mashed banana-couscous paste. Washed down with margaritas of coco and tamarind, and vats of red wine. A DJ spun sounds in the distance and performers on 15-erfoot stilts entertained us with dancing and candomble.. Nonetheless, I have been working very hard, I hosted and moderated a major panel discussion yesterday including CEOs and CFOs of top Latin American companies, with over 100 people in the audience. The previous day I gave my own 20-minutes presentation to several dozen customers. Meetings and greeting, morning noon and night, and in three languages.. What an impressive event! I look forward to many conferences to come, every January stretching out into infinity or retirement, whichever comes first... Now, I just need a week to recover..

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rainy Here

Update.. After 10 hours of sleep I am more rested, thankfully.. But the weather has turned grey.. However, at 75F I should not complain with New York under a new blanket of snow... Will I see ANY snow this year? :-)

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beautiful Here

But I´m so, so, so tired... Must do whatever it takes to get a full night of sleep after this fascinating but endless day... This is my 29th trip to Mexico and my closest approach yet to a Mexican beach. Must wet my feet when the conference is over. It is my 126th foreign trip overall, my 75th trip to Latin America, and my 81st foreign business trip...

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Happy Anniversary!!

A toast to you, my sweet JP, and to two beautiful years..

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Morning Is Her Destination

If Tift Merritt weren't a singer and songwriter of folk rock, alterna-country and many other genres, she'd probably be a poet of the printed page. Indeed, she's won critical acclaim for her poignantly performed 'sonic short stories,' earning comparisons to such icons as Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris..

Merritt, who turned 36 Saturday, is old enough to remember analog technology. Her new single caught my attention and my fancy with the retro title 'Mixtape,' and muses on the role of music samplers in courtship.

Born in Houston and raised in North Carolina, Catherine Tift Merritt, who turned 36 on Saturday, grew up enraptured with her Dad's eclectic record collection, learned piano by ear, and immersed herself in soul, folk, rock, and country. Merritt's palate is mellower than my usual listening speed, but nonetheless steadily draws me in with a vocal that's alternately plaintive, smokey and clear as bell...

Here's the terrific black & white clip for 'Mixtape':

More black & white Merritt, a clip for her stirring 2008 clip 'Broken'...

Live on Letterman with the lovely 'Morning Is My Destination...'

Live in Austin with 'Stray Paper'...

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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Calm Before Chaos

Home is so peaceful, I'll take the warmth of my loved ones in the biting January wind over a week of hyper-work on the Yucatan Riviera... What a lovely weekend, lunch with a friend, a date with JP, two films, babysitting two very charming ladies, smooth as silk save for an unwieldy midnight cab ride home from Queens...


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Saturday, January 08, 2011

White January

It snowed yesterday, but did not stick.
Ah, weekend of peace ahead of a tumultuous week at the Cancun Conference... JP & I had a lovely Friday evening, Italian dinner at Cola's followed by the film 'Black Swan,' a well-directed and well-acted psychological thriller that's bound to harvest a bumper crop of nominations and awards. More on that later...

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Friday, January 07, 2011

I'm Intrigued...

Happy Friday... My friend Emerson took this intriguing photograph, presumably in São Paulo, where's he's spending the holidays with his family.. Is this an art installation? An umbrella sale? An attack by The Penguin? I must find out!

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Nice Spice Rice

...and other delights, served at a Portuguese restaurant in Newark last month, where we dined with the Walshes.. The Portuguese do indeed like paella...

Here's a bird's-eye view of the proceedings...

Eextremely rich shrimp dish in some sort of sauce that tasted like really good Iberian liquid stuffing; ah, egg, flour, the march of the calories...

here's some wild Portuguese surf n' turf of some sort.. we were already full from the appetizers (which I stupid failed failed to photograph); most of this meal was doggy-bagged...

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dinner Is Served

Last week we showed you the preparation of a homemade Venezuelan lunch. Below, we show you how deliciously it came out. I am in a major work crunch ahead of Santander's gargantuan week-long Latin American conference next week in Cancun...

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Bloom Flash

Bart's lovely holiday present - flowering bulbs - did indeed flower, into Paper Whites... and, yes, that's JP lurking in the background...


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Monday, January 03, 2011

Boldly Facing..

...an abundant Portuguese dinner... Right before the holidays we joined our friends the Walshes for a trip to the Newark Museum, followed by a huge dinner at one of the area's numerous Portuguese eateries...


Aerial view of the food... Details later this week...


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Unvarnished Wave

And SOTW roars into 2011 with the lo-fi, hooky pleasures of 'Candy' by distaff quartet Frankie Rose and the Outs. 'Candy' is guitar-based new wave, spare but catchy and muscular.

Frankie is the band's driving force, songwriter and lead singer, and formed the band after leaving her gig as drummer for Vivian Girls (she penned that band's one hit, 'Where Do You Run To,' which was Song of the Week way back in June of '09)... Rose also did drumming for surf-rock grunge-sters Crystal Stilts (another SOTW, 'Love is A Wave' from September of '09)...Both of these past SOTWs are reprised for your curiosity and convenience, below..

Rose's influences range from far back (Beach Boys/Phil Spector) to red hot and current (Deerhunter, an awesome band that I will feature soon)...

Frankie and her crew aren't yet on Wikipedia....
....nor do they have a formal video clip, though I did find a good fan video for 'Candy...'

Without further ado, 'Candy'....

Here's the group, on the sidewalk, with a an near a-cappella rendition of Arthur Russell's 'You Can Make Me Feel Bad..'

Crystal Stilts: "Love Is A Wave":

Vivian Girls: "Where Do You Run To":

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Sunday, January 02, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons...

...sometimes they're big and round with a color closer to orange than yellow....

Arizona offers the citric triple-play of lemons, oranges, and grapefruits... Mom's grapefruit tree leans way over into her neighbor's yard, placing the fruit about a dozen thorns beyond my reach...

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