Two dispatches from the cultural desk, should you be so inclined to take a gander. First up, I saw a play this weekend that knocked my socks off. Pardon the hyperbole, but I honestly thought Good People was that um, good. Starring Frances McDormand of Fargo/Almost Famous fame, the play presented a fly-on-the-wall look at the lives of several blue collar folks from Southie, the famed Boston neighborhood dramatized in everything from Good Will Hunting to Mystic River to The Departed. The dialogue was so sharp and true-to-life that it really felt like you were in the kitchen sharing coffee and cigarettes (we’ll get to Jim Jarmusch in a sec) with the characters on stage. Frances McDormand was lights out, lending her character an acerbic wit and a vindictive edge that leaves you wondering whether she really is “Good People.” Getting to the theater can be tough because of the prices, but the Manhattan Theater Club is offering $30 tickets for people under 30…so if you fit the description, take advantage. You’ll be thinking about it hours, maybe even days after the final curtain falls.

Moving from the stage to the screen, I also checked out Permanent Vacation, the first feature by Jim Jarmusch. It’s an unsettling movie—16 year old Allie meanders about bombed out downtown Manhattan streets encountering various vagabonds and eccentric characters while pondering the meaning of life: his schizo mother, a junkie, a Vietnam Vet and a car thief, among others. Pretty cool to see where Jarmusch first started to develop his aesthetic and even cooler to try to emulate dance moves like the ones above.

An Open Apology to Lil J

April 15, 2011

I’m sorry. There, I said it. I—I’m sorry. I can only hope at this point that you accept my apology. You see, on the evening of Monday, April 11, in the year of our Lord, 2011, I absentmindedly neglected to include Lil J in my initial post about the Sophomore Slump and their show on Newtown Radio, which happens to bring the funky ass shit, like every single day (every single Tuesday that is). That’s Sophomore Slump on Newtown Radio at 7PM on Tuesdays— Bitch. Sorry, not you Lil J. I would never call you a female dog.

You see, I’ve only been able to listen to the show over the last few weeks, when Captain Rod 3 Way and Dylan have been holding it down. So it’s easy to understand why my remarks were fallacious (that means misleading or deceptive…I’ve been studying for the GRE). But I listened to this week’s show and I have to say…you do indeed have  a sexy radio face. I mean voice. You get my vote any day. So keep it real for the Slump, Lil J. You’re a cornerstone. And fuck law school kill em all.

Kilian Martin

April 14, 2011

A buddy of mine recently passed along the video below. The tricks defy physics, let alone logic. The anachronistic wardrobe and music are killer. The cinematography is nostalgic. This makes me want to go to a drive-in theater with a chick in a poodle skirt. Except we’re on a skateboard.

Do your Tuesdays suck? Probably. I’m guessing you get home from work, change out of your slacks then park it on the couch to dive into a Five Dollar Footlong (chicken and bacon ranch) while watching reruns of Spongebob until your eyes burn. It’s cool though, Tuesday is a pointless day as it is. Let’s see. Monday has to exist to take the brunt of our hatred of the workweek, Wednesday offers a glimpse of hope that life is still worth living, Thursday is pretty much Friday and Friday is pretty much heroin. Where does that leave Tuesday? Worthless…until now.

The brains behind the Sophomore Slump have taken their talents/discerning musical tastes to the worldwide webradio, delivering weekly doses of that’s what the fuck is up. Driven by DJs Captain Rod 3 Way, Lil J and Dylan, Sophomore Slump plays all the shit you didn’t even know you wanted to hear. From Yuck and Kurt Vile to Future Sound and Tribe, they’ve got it on lock. It’s like the radio station you wish your college had. Catch NYC concert updates to hear what sweet show you’re probably going to miss and maybe even a live studio guest or two. So turn off that episode of Funniest Home Videos and tune your browser to Bushwick-based Newtown Radio on Tuesday nights at 7pm to get your head blown. Actually, DVR that episode of Funniest Home Videos before you turn it off…you’re going to want that for later. Nootch.

Clams Casino

April 10, 2011

The phrase Clams Casino probably conjures up any number of bizarre mental images, not the least of which might involve a set of cartoonish bivalves with googly eyes sitting around a blackjack table. But maybe that’s just me. What probably doesn’t come to mind is a New Jersey based producer currently making a name for himself by providing blunted out, introspective beats for dudes like Lil B and, um, Soulja Boy. The tracks on Clams Casino’s Instrumental Mixtape, which you can download here, have a cold, almost haunting backbone to them, as if they were recorded on a spaceship looking back on earth. But the view is still gorgeous. Yesterday this mixtape provided the soundtrack to one of my solo walks around the city, and I swear, at one point, when the sunlight hit me at a certain angle, I had an epiphany. I just wish I could remember what it was.


April 9, 2011

I first heard about Eric Rohmer when I read last year about a retrospective of his work taking place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Rohmer was a central figure in the French New Wave, but the last of the directors involved in the movement to gain serious critical acclaim. Like I often do, I flaked on checking out his films at the time, but have since made it a point to catch a few of them on Netflix. And to be honest, the two I’ve seen, My Night at Maud’s and Claire’s Knee, are two of the best movies I’ve watched in a very long time. Perhaps it’s because they play to my mood, or what I perceive to be my mood: mellow, slow and prone to romanticizing seemingly insignificant details. Rohmer’s films are dialogue-driven, which I appreciate, and they’re smart. His characters engage in a moral struggle between virtue and honesty and their innate physical and sexual impulses. And the dude casts some truly beautiful women. I’m afraid to know how old the chick that played Claire in Claire’s Knee was. All that aside, watch one, if not both of these movies. Yea, they have subtitles, and yea, they might require some patience, but chill out on the couch one afternoon and enjoy.

Claire’s Knee

My Night At Maud’s

Blank City

April 7, 2011

Saw the premiere of Blank City at IFC tonight. Makes me want to go create shit. Or destroy shit. Or create shit then destroy it.

I have to ask: Does anyone else get a panic attack when they receive the New Yorker in the mail each week? I mean, seriously. It’s Sunday night, and I’m barely through Goings On About Town, when BAM, there it is in my mailbox on Monday, in all of its tri-columned glory with a tongue-in-cheek/politically aware/culturally savvy/artistically tasteful cover to boot. You see, when I open my mailbox on Monday’s, my palms start sweating. It’s like I haven’t finished reading the book for which I’m supposed to be turning in a book report.

Note to Conde Nast: slow down. We get it, you guys are smarter than all of us and you employ the best writers of our times, but it’s no fun for anyone when I haven’t had the chance to read your scathing review of The Adjustment Bureau before the next copy arrives in the mail. I’m a busy guy and I try to read other shit too. So I end up speed reading through half of your magazine, particularly Talk of the Town, which for better or worse, is my primary source for consuming world news. So excuse me for my ignorance when at a party I mistakenly claim that the Supreme Court Justices are rioting in Tunisia to protest Hugh Hefner’s wedding. But I know I’m not the only one that’s behind and I’m relieved when I see other people on the train straining to finish the issue from two weeks ago. Suckers.

Don’t get me wrong, the articles are fascinating. I love reading about Barry Bonds’ perjury, and the corruption of the Kabul Bank and Turkish soccer hooligans. But you seriously can’t expect me to keep up with several 15 page features each week. Can’t you just condense that shit? Or publish bi-weekly? Or make a clif notes version? Take a think on that New Yorker, I think you’d ease the stress of a lot of your readers. In the meantime, you’ll have to excuse me. This week’s feature is about Aziz Ansari, and I think he’s hilaaaarious.