Well, THIS looks awesome.
Astute readers will take note that the previous two posts to Knoblet were, for some reason, posted out of order. And I'm entirely at a loss as to how to fix it. So, uh, astute readers - carry on. Rearrange this blog in your head. I'm sure you can do it. I can, and I'm vaguely retarded, so I think you can as well.
October 13, 2004 - 10:30 PM (scheduled time) - 11:00 PM (actual time) Not much to say about Turing Machine, I have to say. They were playing at Delancey . I deliberately skipped the French Kicks show that I was supposed to be covering at 10PM so I could get back on schedule (rushing over to Irving Plaza just to miss the Saul Williams show by one song threw me off course), but when I got to Delancey, the Bloodthirsty Lovers were still playing, and it took Turing Machine until 11 to actually get set up and ready to play. They were being described by everybody around me as "math-rock," a term that has very little meaning for me. To listen to their set, which was techically quite competent, I take it that math rock implies rhythmic and rigid jamming (no lyrics?) and, it would seem, expressions of pained constipation/concentration. It didn't seem like much fun; I lasted about two songs and then proceeded over to Crash Mansion on Bowery where I just missed Jean Grae (dammit, heard she was good). Also, ran into Alex's brother Jonathan on the way out of Delancey. I also briefly high-fived with Marshall on Delancey St. as well. What, does everybody hang out on the Lower East Side?
October 13, 2004 - 1AM - RJD2. So upon entirely missing Jean Grae at Crash Mansion, and instead hanging out watching some Brooklyn Academy rappers berate their audience for being so "shitty," I headed back to the inconveniently located Irving Plaza for two shows, RJD2 & Mixmaster Mike, both of whom were on my shortlist of requests for the marathon. I have RJD2's "Deadringer" album, which is quite good - lots of instrumental hip-hop and a coupla good MC'd tracks - so I was curious to see what his live set was like. And it turns out it was awesome. If you have the chance to see him, do - he's an exceptionally competent mixer and is having a ton of fun to boot. He kept smiling and getting excited at playing, which for me is one of the most important things. I always want to see that the performer is having a good time while performing. You can't really tell from this photo, but he had four turntables set up, as well as a sampler and a drum pad. And the entire show, he was running back and forth, no headphones on, mixing it all together on the fly, and it FUCKING BANGED. I was nodding my head, the crowd was into it, there was lots of cheering - so much fun. One of the best shows of the marathon, hands down.
October 13, 2004 - 9:00 PM - Smoosh! These girls were absolutely adorable. They were playing at Pianos on Ludlow St. (a bar/club that used to be piano store - they wholesale kept the sign outside that read "Pianos"). They're these two girls, 9 & 11, who play keyboards & drums and sing all their own material. I think there were plenty of people there who were there for the novelty of it, but as soon as they started playing, people knew that they were for real -- their songs were good, smart indie-pop, with nice, complicated, adult melodies. Good stuff. Couldn't stick around too long for this because I had to race back up town (for a gig that I would ultimately miss, Saul Williams, sigh), but I was impressed. They seemed really genuine and nice, and had Death Cab for Cutie & Long Winters stickers on their gear. Turns out the drumming girl, her teacher was the drummer for Death Cab, and he had encouraged them to start a band. And so here they are, showcasing in New York. Crazy. Man, I woulda flipped my shit if that was me in, what, 4th grade? Good god.
October 13, 2004 - 8:30 PM - This was the first band of my assignment - the Rock-n-Roll Soldiers, who were playing at CBGB, the legendary punk club. I had never been there before, so it was fun to actually go see a show there. I have to say, it looked awesome on the inside. Floor-to-ceiling covered in stickers and sweat. It looked like the whole place was some sort of Mexican cantina that had been carved out of a building somehow and had been allowed to organically drip into place. It felt like a place you couldn't design or make, it had to have evolved over 20 years. In any case, these guys were quite good - full of spazzy little rock moves and posturing but done in such a way that you just knew that they Loved to Rock. Plus their songs were plenty catchy. I jockeyed for position with people whose cameras looked way more professional than mine (though mine can blend in if it needs to). I have to say I didn't feel like I needed a whole lot more camera than I had with me, but people always seemed to show up with three cameras and some gigantic flash attachment. And some unnecessarily big sports photographer lens. I mostly tried to suppress my gear envy and concentrate on taking pictures. Incidentally, I also dunked my knee in some big wet puddle at CBGB so I felt all rock and roll and dirty for the rest of the evening.
Okay, so it's done - 4 nights of shows, 20 bands, about 1600 photographs and 3 hours of sleep later, I've survived the nonstop music parade that is the CMJ Marathon. I've learned a shitload about the subway system (who knew that getting to the J from Canal St. & Broadway involves no less that 6 sets of stairs?) and how to get around Lower Manhattan. In addition, I've now been to scads more music venues that I'd never been to before. I've learned to wield my camera as a tool of access - it's incredibly easy to bluff your way in somewhere if you state your purpose clearly and hold up some heavy-looking gear. I've also vaguely overdosed on feeling like a distanced observer to something I would like to feel like a participant in. It's fun to see lots of shows, and I do like having something to do - I often get a little bored at shows (much as I love the music - it's my mess of a brain), so it's nice to have a sense of purpose. But it's quite obvious to everybody around that you don't have as much invested in attending the show as they do, and it can feel a little lonely. Add to that that I'm not the best at talking to strangers and you end up with a series of four nights spent very much in my own company and inside my own head. Nothing wrong with that, inherently, but I like music shows as social experiences as well, and I missed out on that, eventually.
But in the overall, I have to say it was awesome, and that I would do it again in a heartbeat. I love taking pictures of musicians and shows - they're always doing something interesting, and when you can catch that moment of unguarded abandon, where you see the honest love of music involved, that's what I was looking to capture. And, with varying degrees of success, I think I got that with a bunch of artists, and ended up with some(by my judgment) good photos. I guess I'll let you judge for yourself. But I had a good time, and I learned a lot. Like the fact that the Knitting Factory refuses to light their shows barely at all. And that my camera's priority modes are totally for crap. I was much happier once I went totally manual. But enough! It's time for photos!
Okay, so while we're all waiting for my massive CMJ update that I'm anyday getting around to posting (hey, gimme a break here, I'm busy), I will post this profile, in it's entirety, of some girl on Lavalife named ItalianPrincessX. Tell me if it makes ANY SENSE AT ALL to you:
Just looking to pass time and spark intellect if you have game that's you, as for me I'm interested. No losers. Must be professional. I am.
Ooooh, intriguing. Now, lemme see -- I like to spark intellect. I have game that's me. Aaaaaaaaaaaand she's interested! Wait - am I a loser? Uh. NO! I am not! And I'm professional! Man, I pass her bizarre standards for dating and now I'll write her back...or, on second thought, I might just let this one go.
Okay, Knobleteers, it is finally here - the CMJ Marathon, in which a million and a half bands play about 5 million shows here in New York over the course of four days, and I'm one of the CMJ photo staff, covering the whole thing. Which means I'm taking picture of about 8 or 9 bands a night for the next four nights. It's gonna be totally exhausting, but I'm going to try to keep this thing updated with reports and reviews and assorted other junk. Sound good? Great! I'm heading out of the office now to pick up my press credentials from the Javits center. See ya later, dudes...
Uh, yeah, I have nothing much to say about this except WOW what, oh my god, huh. If you click on the headline above, you'll see that scientists have been, in fact, creating a meat jacket. A MEAT JACKET. OUT OF HUMAN BONE CELLS AND MOUSE CELLS. Now, while this is gross and looks in fact like they skinned a small, jacket-like creature, this is the kind of thing that I get quite excited about. How cool is that? I do want to point out that I started thinking about organic jackets a long time ago, when we were suggesting that we could make a Fat Jacket out of J's excess flesh. But that's another story.
First off, a li'l shoutout to Not The Rhino for being all more updated on a regular basis. Which is very exciting. Hey, Kath, liked the last post on "moving." You rock.
Secondly, I was at a dinner party at Jessie's place yesterday (Saturday), which was fantastic - she and her housemate Topper cooked a veritable feast, from the delicious artichoke soup to the roasted cauliflower to the roasted lamb, everything was quite good. And, most delicious of all, the meal finished off with a sweet potato cake with homemade apple sauce, which was one of the best desserts I've had in a long time. Kudos to you, Jessie & Topper! But anyway, at the party was Jessie's former physics TA, Dan Hertz (sp?) with whom I had several great conversations. One of my favorite things he was discussing was the concept of the Klein Flask, a theoretical mathematical concept of a zero-volume container, i.e. a container in which the outside surface smoothly segues into the inside surface, leaving you with no actual "inside" or "outside." Of course, I'm vaguely retarded so I could only mildly imagine what this meant - until I went ahead and visited KleinBottle.com, and all became clear. I particularly enjoy this particular incarnation of the Klein Bottle. Enjoyable. I love this kind of stuff. The other thing we discussed was part of a larger discussion about the state of America under Bush. Topper, while no fan of Bush, is a conservative on many issues, and this being New York where one tends not to run into Republicans, this engendered a long discussion on the debates in particular and Bush in general. Dan Hertz brought up something that I think I had tangentially heard about, but hadn't much thought. Apparently the Union of Concerned Scientists have issued a collective statement calling for the return of scientific integrity in policy making, leveling the accusation upon the Bush administration that they've systematically ignored or altered or distorted scientific evidence to suit their purposes, have attempted to have support for the administration to be a litmus test for appointments to scientific panels, and have attempted to subvert the current system of scientific peer review. You can read the full complaint here. Now as a person who is not particularly endowed with a very scientific brain (it's much more of a touchy-feely blob), I still have an enormous reverence and respect for science and a belief in the importance of science in our society. That political motivations cause evidence to be buried or ignored in favor of unsupported ideology drives me crazy angry. Kath & Spoons, in particular, what do you think about all this? I was very happy to hear in the debate on Friday that Kerry straight-up told us that he will be a president who believes in science. That's a beautiful thing.
Final thing for today - so yesterday, myself, Alex, Chris & Geoff were walking around filming small segments for a series of web commercials for Sketchfest NYC which will be taking place in June of next year. The whole idea was that we'd be dressed up as sketch comedy archetypes and walk around New York doing very New York things. So I was a pirate waiting for the subway, Chris was a ninja on a parkbench, and Geoff was a Santa talking on his cellphone while walking around. Anyway, we had filmed a couple when we turned up Sullivan St. to head up to Joe's Pizza (the same teeny pizzeria where Peter Parker worked in Spiderman 2 - their pizza is fantastic, probably the best version of New York street pizza I've ever had) to film something there. We were passing by another film shoot when one of the people on the film crew approached Geoff and had the following exchange:
Guy: Hey, are you going to be wearing that Santa costume all day?
Geoff: Uh, maybe. Why?
Guy: Because we're filming this thing and the guy who was playing our Santa Claus just dropped out, and we need somebody to play a Santa.
We were flabbergasted. So it turns out that it was a short film featurette type of thing for Virgin Mobile, potentially to be shown on Virgin Atlantic Airways and some parties or something. So Geoff signed up for it and reported for call a little later this afternoon. He was playing a kinda creepy Santa at a holiday party that goes awry. Alex, Chris, and myself hung out for a little bit "on set," which was the offices of Trace Magazine down in Soho. I left after an hour or so, but Geoff said they didn't film until ages later, so I'm glad I ditched and went to Jessie's dinner party instead...but still, pretty cool. We were all pretty flabbergasted about the whole thing. But as stunned as we were, we were trying to think about it from the film crew's perspective - their Santa had just dropped out ten minutes before, and then around the corner comes a Santa. That's just fucking bizarre.
The other fun thing about walking around with a Santa Claus is that people like to shout out things at you. Usually, it's just things like "ho ho ho" and "Hey, it's Santa." But far and away, the best reponse was a kid who just pointed and said "Give me a present or I'll kill you." Oh, kids.