I'd been seeing her skulking around the block for several days--a beautiful grey tabby, her striped fur highlighted with orange, her big feet dirty from outdoor life. I decided after seeing her Friday evening that if I saw her again the next morning I'd take her in. My mother's cat died recently, a stunning and soft solid grey boy who went by the name Elwood Blues, and I thought this lovely girl might be a nice new friend for my mom. Saturday morning out I went to do the laundry, and... no cat. Whew! I thought, maybe she actually has a home. But on my way back, who comes trotting up to me, smiling, winding her soft slinky tail around my legs... I talked to her quietly for a bit and then airlifted her up to the apartment. Mungo and Henrey were amused. I stuck her in the bathroom, but she immediately figured her way out and into the living room, where she growled and hissed to keep the boys at legs' length. Since it seemed obvious that I would have a hard time keeping the cats separate, I whisked her to the vet, who in the span of 3 minutes raised his price from $40 to $260. I'm so glad there are vets who will help out people who rescue strays! Sleazy bastard. He and his assistant quibbled over whether she was male or female for a bit, after I asked. They weren't about to check on their own for $260. And they didn't seem to notice that she had been declawed also. Or that she was a polydactyl (she has too many toes on all her paws). But I got her shots and blood tests, which were all fine (as I found out on Monday, after calling the vet myself, who then called me back and yelled at me for not being at home on a Monday afternoon. Hey asshole, you think I could pay your exorbitant bill if I didn't have a job?). I called my mother when I got home, all set for her to say, "Oh! How sweet! A little girl with too many toes!" but what she said was "You gotta be kidding! Your father would kill me, and what about your brother's allergies?" I shall note here that my brother is a married adult who lives 400 miles away. So now I have this cat, who's still hissing at Mungo and Henrey, called Poly-gene. You want her?
May 4, Oneida @ The Polish National Home. Where I grew up on Staten Island, every spring they had something called Old Homes Day that took place at the 18 century restored village called Richmondtown. Everyone would come out--it was usually, luckily, a brilliant Saturday, and there were weird demonstrations of printmaking and duck-calling, and the old cemetery at St. Andrew's was open... oh! It was glorious. At some point, Old Homes Day became a Staten Island euphemism for any off-gathering where you see everyone you know and haven't seen for a long time. So, the Oneida show at the Polish National Home, halfway between Billsburg and Greenpoint, was like Old Homes Day for the slacker/hipster-doofuses that populate these environs. As is often the case in this milieu, I was slightly out of my element. The hipster-doofus is a neighboring tribe to mine, and while not unfriendly, not my tribe per se. But what is these days. So the chicks were decked in vintage 50s Donna Reeds and skips, with heavy eyeglass frames adorning their delicate faces and tribal tattoos adorning their delicate arms, while dudes in kitchy t-shirts attempted to hide the fact that they were fat and balding. It was cute. I ran into Colin and Pete, who, it turns out, is perpetrating a prank so heinous and hysterical I'm afraid to mention it here lest I get harangued by certain alleged staggering geniuses. They were terribly drunk, and Pete kept flourishing a knife he had purchased early which we begged him to put away. The polish beer was flowing and the drummer from Lightning Bolt, who was to play later, came over and complimented Colin on his tattoo, which is of the state of Massachusetts. We also ran into Cliff Ferdon, drummer for (are you ready for this?) Action Adventure Systems, World of Tomorrow, and the JFK Jr. Royal Airforce. Cliff is a great drummer, but he's in so many bands I hardly ever see him just hanging around! It was odd! Oneida, as ever, rocked harder than the Dolomite, and the crowd was totally into them, yelling at them in a taunting way. There was almost moshing. Some of Oneida's songs have a strange song structure: verse, verse, verse, verse, verse, drum break, verse. The Polish home is interesting, but I thought the vocals were getting a bit swallowed in the cavernous space. At the end of Oneida's set, while Kid Millions pounded the living crap out of his kit, the drummer from Lightning Bolt picked up the beat, and segued right in. That's a good trick. Oneida (http://www.enemyhogs.com/) has a bunch of stuff out, the most recent of which is "Come On Everybody, Let's Rock," available on Jagjaguwar Records (http://www.jagjaguwar.com). Lightning Bolt is the noisiest duo you'll ever see. Their album, "Ride The Skies," is available on Load Records (loadrecords.com)
May 5, The Book of Liz @ Greenwich House Theater. I was very excited that I got tickets to see this play, written by David (Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day) and Amy (Strangers with Candy) Sedaris. But, I really can't recommend it to anyone. It's just not that funny! It's weird, as these two are among the funniest people writing today, but this was just a clunker. It had its funny moments, mostly provided by Jackie Hoffman doing a very broad lower class British accent but pretending she was eastern European ("Oy'm from UKRAnia..."). Overall it just doesn't provide the laughs it should. Is the Sedaris humor is too subtle (ha!) for the stage? I guess I'll just have to wait for Strangers with Candy--The Movie.
May 8, PSNBC's Alternative Tuesday @ Here Another Peter Etc. pick. I think I'd planned to do something else this night... oh yes! I believe this was to be my Orb replacement dinner night--I got dinner in exchange for trusting someone else to buy me Orb tickets (the show sold out before he bought them), but Peter Etc from The Liquid Tapedeck called me and beseeched me to see Kristen Schaal at PSNBC's Alternative Tuesdays. Apparently, this is something organized by NBC tv to sort of scout for new talent. Mostly, it sounds abysmal, but there were a few interesting things listed, Alternative Tuesdays (all comedy) being one of them. I went to see Kristen, a charming and tremendously talented young woman who did an enticingly funny routine that involved stripping, Little Debbie's, and Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me." Please please please! Look out for this woman. If you get a chance to see her GO! You will NOT be disappointed, I promise you.
But, guess what? Some of the other comedians were funny too! I have so many bad comedy experiences I tend to cringe when someone suggests I see a comedy show, but this was pretty high caliber. Dan Naturman pondered why Janeane Garafolo is so rich while he has to give blow jobs for sandwiches, Seth Herzog danced naked behind a sheet to "Live and Let Die," and Dina Pearlman educated the audience as to the correct pronunciation of her name. You'll probably never see any of these people on NBC, since the NBC barometer for funny seems to be set on mediocre. C'mon! would you rather watch Will Ferrett or whatever his name is do a poor impersonation of Robert Goulet on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, or watch Robert Goulet make fun of himself on TV Funhouse?
May 15, Christopher X. Brodeur for Mayor. In an historic announcement at City Hall, Christopher X. Brodeur kicked off his candidacy for Mayor of New York City. Brodeur is Giuliani's nemesis, so even if I didn't agree with him I'd vote for him. But, as it is, I do. Check out his 100 innovations for NYC at mayorbrodeur.com--he wants to radically change NYC with such amenities as public restrooms, park benches, and affordable housing. His press conference included the following cast: a guy wearing a giant cardboard flower on his head, a former transvestite prostitute, a reformed junkie, and a bad-assed biker, all testifying to Brodeur's helpfulness and integrity. The former crack ho, in a stunning blue wig, claims Brodeur gave her sponge baths!
May 17, World of Tomorrow @ Alterknit. This was a very special W.O.T., with guest bassist Jesse Krakow joining Bonnie Kane, Cliff Ferdon and Chris Morrow. Jesse and Cliff make a great rhythm section! The band was exceptionally tight, which was amazing considering the Cliff and Jesse had never played together before! That's a real testament to what good musicians they are. The band allowed Jesse to lead them in a blues progression for one song, but mostly it was their usual (or unusual,as is the case with World of Tomorrow) spacy electronic free jazz. You can listen to some tracks at http://www.wooweb.com/WW/CODE/W.O.O.1.html, but you really need to go see them live. They'll shear off your scalp, sew it on backwards, and you'll like it.
May 17, Render by Dance Kukikokimoto @ Whitney Museum of American Art @ Philip Morris. I'm not really a fan of these contemporary art hoo-has, having studied art history and decided that it was 99% bullshit, but I went to see Render because... Michael Portnoy was in it! Michael Portnoy? I hear you scratching your heads... name sounds vaguely familiar... Soy Bomb! Soy Bomb! The guy who crashed the 1998 Grammys and made a mockery of Bob Dylan with his weird topless gyrations, Soy Bomb written enigmatically on his well-muscled wiry body. So I trotted off to the Whitney at Philip Morris, which is not the only museum sponsored by big tobacco interests, by the way... the space is set up atrociously, and, even though the event was free, the fact that I could see NOTHING was incredibly annoying. Well, I saw a few things. I saw business men outside the window emulating the performers inside, and I saw the unrelated video. I could occasionally see Portnoy, who's pretty tall, and sometimes Mike Iverson, and never Koosil-ja Hwang, who conceived this piece and is credited with 'music,' even though it sounded like it was all samples. Render consisted of the three performers reciting dialog from movies, using fluorescent tubes as props. Iverson does not understand the difference between a Brooklyn and a Philadelphian accent, which resulted in his Nancy Spungen sounding like Alice Kramden. Hwang overplayed everything, I assume because she has a fairly heavy Korean accent, and she can't act. But Portnoy was brilliant of course. If I was a voice-over agent, I'd hire this guy immediately. He has quite a range of voices, and he delivered his lines well. Despite the fact that the company is called Dancewhatever, there is no dance involved. Well, I couldn't see. Maybe there was.
May 18, Data Dynamics and Bitstreams @ The Whitney. Oh, let's continue the pretentious bullshit for a few more paragraphs. The Bitstreams and Data Dynamics show at the Whitney was more proof that whether or not you get into a museum has nothing to do with talent, but with grant-writing ability. I will not embarrass the 'artists' by identifying them. However, I will tell you that "highlights," and I am being facetious, included a room with the Wizard of Oz playing on a small screen and headphones playing Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and some examples of very bad Photoshop cloning that wouldn't make it into this newspaper. My friend, Rools Like Ozzy producer Peter Bernard speculated that perhaps the artists behind the Dark Side of Oz piece had made a macaroni sculpture that got eaten by the dog the night before it was due at the Whitney. There was plenty of internet stuff too, in case you've been under a pile of canvases for the past 8 years and haven't encountered this on your own. As bad as last year's Biennial was, this was much much worse. There was some stuff that was interesting, like the squished skulls, and some interesting vide that wasn't as good a something you'd see on real tv, but in a better exhibit you'd not even remember these. As it was, these were the standout pieces of the show.
May 23, Lab USA book release party @ Galapagos. Kevin C. Pyle's scary new comic, Lab USA; illuminated documents, chronicles the history of the US governments medical experiments on unsuspecting and unwilling citizens. Of course you all know about the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, wherein black men who were diagnosed with syphilis were left untreated, but did you know that germs were released into the NYC subways in 1966?Pyle's drawing style is dynamic and stark, and perfectly illustrates the horrifying subject matter. You can find this enlightening comic book in bookstores near you! or order online from autonomedia.org I know you're thinking, "where do I know that name from?" Kevin is an editor of World War 3 Illustrated, a long running radical/political comic book, and you may have seen his illustrations in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Progressive. Yeah, this is serious stuff, but you'll be greatly entertained while you learn. At the party, at Galapagos, there was brain Jello, and little pills being given out in tiny cups like you get when you're in the hospital, and too many babies. I felt weird until Ray showed up with his Alpha-stim, an alpha brainwave enhancing device that attaches to one's earlobes, and then I felt weirder. Of course, I was drunk at the time, so who knows what my brainwaves looked like by that point?
May 26, various Billsburg parties. I was supposed to meet my friends at the Out party, a benefit for some artists who were getting kicked out of their spaces in way-out Wmsburg (like really way out, near the Right Bank), but the party was late! Luckily, we knew the hideout of the Inshallah 103point9 party. This pirate radio station always holds their parties in secret places--you have to email them for the address. This party was held in conjunction with Brooklyn Massive and Baraka Foundation, and there were two floors of beautiful people. No, really! Even the line for the bathroom was interesting. And there was cheap Brooklyn lager and IPA, and djs on one floor and bands on another and it was definitely worth the $5. Check out the extremeNY calendar for the next party (http://extremeNY.com/calendar). We had so much fun at Inshallah we didn't get to the Out party until 2 am! But it was going on until dawn, so that was no biggie. Saw some crazy artwork, like a big weird chair made of flexible plastic tubes, stunning black-light art, living painting from Vertical Pool, and some kick-ass LOUD bands. And then, the long lonely train ride home. Back at dawn to feed the cats, and to bed, to bed...
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