Saturday, December 22, 2007

Best YouTube Music Moments in 2007

YouTube killed the video star.

In 2007, while MTV plugged the umpteenth episode of "Parental Control" and the so-real-it's-fake tragicomedy,"The Hills," video sharing website YouTube raked in record numbers.

According to a Harris Interactive poll, 65 percent of American adults say they have watched a video on YouTube with 42 percent of the surveyed adults making regular treks to the site.

Major labels such as Warner Music inked a library-spanning content deal with YouTube this year, promising the site vids from the Warner vault. But the site's main selling point remained the guitar-strumming everyman and everywoman. These bleary-eyed rubes uploaded teary bedroom confessionals to an ever-growing legion of tubers.

In the spirit of giving, Manhattan Project has decided to dole out a few year-end awards to the best music moments on YouTube.

Best Deceptive Advertising By A Major Label
Hollywood Records' Marie Digby

Marie Digby's harmonically straightforward and cocksure cover of Rihanna's No. 1 hit, "Umbrella" raised a few eyebrows. It's raised almost 4 million eyebrows since its summer debut to be exact.

Framed in a lily-white bedroom, Digby plucks chords with a husker's ease. She's the girl next door, if your life resembled a Hollister advertisement. Call Digby "the Lonelygirl 15 of acoustic-pop."

In September, the Wall Street Journal suggested that Digby was a ploy in Hollywood Records' "astroturfing" campaign to deliver the singer to bigger masses through YouTube. In a blog entry, meanwhile, Digby wrote that the YouTube uploads were a response to a "desperate" lack of promotion from Hollywood Records.

Best Use Of Hand Flatulence
Gerry Phillips' cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody"

The manualism movement is worthy of a cover story in The Believer. Flanked by his hambones, internet "musician" Gerry Phillips was the unlikely YouTube celebrity of 2007 with his moist rendition of Queen classic, "Bohemian Rhapsody." In his fuzzy dark-blue sweat shirt and Hank Hill glasses, Phillips let it rip with a flawlessly spot-on take. In August, Jimmy Kimmel Live featured Phillips on the Internet Talent Showcase segment. Sadly, Hollywood Records wasn't behind this one.

Best Unintentionally Shameless Christmas Parody
The Kings College staff's Band Aid tribute

The Kings College staffers didn't intend to become YouTube sensations in 2007, per se. Their cynical take on the Bob Geldof's altruistic bombast anthem, "Do They Know It's Christmas" complete with mimicry of Bono's hubris, was like finding pixie sticks in our stockings come Christmas morning. It was completely unexpected and offered a satisfying jolt of energy.

Best Unintentionally Funny Performance
Fergie's appearance at Movie Rocks

Ya know ya did. If you've seen the Dutchess' nearly insufferable interpretation of Wings' "Live and Let Die" at Movie Rocks on YouTube, you're not alone. About 20,000 YouTubers watched the wretched four-minute clip, with Fergie's voice sounding like a cat suffering from a seizure. The song itself lurks from amped-up Slash guitar licks to drunken karaoke lounge singer ballads in the course of one measure. Fergie lags the background track, tossing off a thickly coated "Ya know ya did" a few seconds after the phrase is uttered by her backing vocalists. But all is forgiven in the name of the pyrotechnic gods who spray wisps of sparks to the irregular beat.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Assland Chronicles

I always wanted to be good kid. But I liked terrorizing my babysitter much better.

My babysitter, Miss Ruth, was elderly woman with grey hair in a neat bun. She had an affinity for mannish pantsuits and she always smelled suspiciously of saltine crackers.

She really didn’t have anyone in her life. She talked mostly about her cats and found escapism in afternoon soaps such as Another World and Days of Our Lives.

But it was this afternoon that I had found myself in the time-out corner on my parents’ couch. Miss Ruth, fed up finally with my 6-year-old terrorism, had decided to call my father at work. She wanted him to spank me and teach me a lesson.
I couldn’t say in the past that I didn’t deserve it.

There was that time that Miss Ruth allowed me to watch Another World with her bridge team. And instead of sitting on the couch like a good little boy, I decided to mimic the sex scenes displayed onscreen in my Sesame Street playhouse.

I would strip down, completely naked in Sesame Street playhouse’s bright green plastic facade, and would then nestle up beside my Garfield pillow.

“I’ve always loved you,” I would tell my Garfield pillow, gently stroking the smirking cat face as I whispered sweet nothings in its ear. “And I’m never going to leave you, never ever!”

Miss Ruth stumbled upon my bare 6-year-old butt, humping the Garfield pillow.

“Joe, what in tarnation do you think you’re doing?” she asked. She was mortified and suffice to say, her bridge team was never invited back.

Now, you would think that I would be indebted to Ms. Ruth. She mentioned nary a peep about my sexual intercourse with the Garfield pillow to my father.

But again, it was today that I found myself on the couch, awaiting my father’s fists of justice. I had never really been spanked before. My ass was hankerin’ for a spankerin’.

“You’re going to sit there and wait for your father, too,” Ms. Ruth said, peering down from behind her Benjamin Franklin glasses as she glanced over the pages of The Nashville Banner. She wet her thumb and crooked her finger through pages of the Style section.

“No six-year-old child of mine is going to urinate in my Metamucil and expect to get away with it.”

The clock ticked in painstaking seconds. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest, collapsing around my lungs. It was the moment of eminent doom, lurking around the corner.

And Ms. Ruth sat there for every sweet second, leafing through the Nashville Banner as she eyed the clock.

That elderly woman with grey hair in a neat bun and an affinity for mannish pantsuits, that always smelled suspiciously of saltine crackers. She still doesn’t have anyone in her life, a mere 18 years later.

Ms. Ruth now lives in a dingy retirement center. She lost her cat to the mange, so
she rarely has things to talk about. Another World was canned back in 1999 by NBC Daytime execs, in search of that ever elusive “younger” demographic.

But I go over to the retirement home on occasion. I remind Ms. Ruth of the times we shared over a brittle tin can of crackers—the Garfield pillow, Carolyn Crudell and yes, pissing in her Metamucil.

Because to paraphrase her beloved soap, I’ve come to realize a very important lesson in all of this: “No one should live in this world alone.”

Friday, November 30, 2007

I feel a poke coming through...on you

Best line: "The way that you shake it on me/Makes me want you so bad sex-ually/Oh girl"
I can't fathom ever listening to this band as a pubescent.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Landlord

I had visions of Candace Bushell-whimsy for my first post-college apartment in New York City. It was to be sex with the modern homosexual as I sipped cosmopolitans and thumbed through the racks of haute culture.

But ambition led to an inevitable wake-up call.

Instead of Sex and the City brownstone, I found myself schlepping in a dismally gray, pockmarked railroader in working-class Queens, with light fixtures caked in dust and a homeless cat named Squints who suffered from the mange.

The stairwells reeked of dried dog feces, too. My landlord's 90-year-old mother, bless her heart, stockpiled metallic buckets of the stuff in her kitchen window, letting them bake in the summer sun.

The smell wafted, causing the building to drown in that dry, putrid odor, one that broke my Sex and the City dreams near in two.

After snorting through the muck for weeks, I decided The Health Department of New York City would provide my final comeuppance.

My roommate Kevin advised against it. "Our landlord will go ape-shit," he warned.
But I drudged up Sarah Jessica Parker, thinking that she wouldn't stand for it. I went through with the call.

The next day, Kevin and I woke to a pounding on our front door. It was a ferocious thudding that nearly rattled the cracked glass window out of the paper-thin door. We both knew it was our landlord, Jan Urie.

Kevin shot me a look of "what the hell are we supposed to do?' I shot him a look back of 'I don't know' unbridled terror. We finally decided to reluctantly open the door, finding Jan Urie and her Polish sexagenarian henchman huddled over our stoop.

Jan Urie had an electrical edge about her with a look as if she could spit nails.
"Who called the Health Department? Did you call the Health Department?" she screeched while jabbing her crooked finger in Kevin's gut.

I saddled up behind Jan Urie. It was time to come clean. "You know, I'm actually the one who called the Health Department."

"You?" Jan Urie pounced. "After everything I've done for you including giving you that couch."

Long silence. "First of all, that couch has pee stains on it," I casually reminded her, "secondly, anyone who lets her own mother live in filth is real bitch who
deserves to have the Health Department called on her."

Yes, this exactly wasn't the right thing to say at the moment. Jan Urie let out a howl like a wild banshee and began hurling obscenities my way. "She's calling the police department on you. They're going to arrest you for verbal assault," the henchman taunted.

I slumped over on the couch with pee stains on it. "Kevin, what are we going to do?" The words fell out of my mouth with a quiet exasperation.

Kevin didn't know the answers to that question, either. We did know that police wouldn't arrest me for verbal assault despite Jan Urie's belligerent reassurances that I was in a "Mexican street gang back in Nashville."

A few weeks later, the Health Department ordered Jan Urie to make a few changes around the building, which she grudgingly accepted.We weren't any closer to the Sarah Jessica Parker-ideal, but things were certainly getting better.

My Shameful Addiction

American Idol pol pot Simon Fuller, fresh off cementing Clay Aiken to late life career of panty-wetting Manliow-esque arena tours, has greased the wheels of fluff-pop further by unleashing Idol spin-off The Next Great American Band on unsuspecting FOX viewers in dire need of their Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? fix.
Instead of chirpy Mariah clones ransacking stanzas for superfluous melisma, The Next Great American Band forks over well coiffed Nickelback facsimiles and calls it even.
Band cribs an entire chapter from the American Idol playbook with an acid tongued old codger in the “Simon” role (Australian Idol’s Dicko Dickinson), a sympathetic sister-in-arms in the “Paula” role (Shelia E.) and Goo Goo Doll Johnny Rzeznik filling Randy Jackson’s nonsensical blather. Below, I've charted the show contenders.

Light of Doom
The Skinny: A butt-rockin’ fivepiece comprised of 12- and 13-year-olds with wispy golden locks and vapid Children of the Corn gapes, Light of Doom has been panned by online tropiocolotes as a “metal Hanson.” The parents of these sleaze glam guttersnipes have yet to tell them that Superunknown snuffed Whitesnake’s career.
Vegas Odds: 8:1. Dicko calls them, “creepy and gimmicky,” but the aw-shucks factor is hard to resist.

Dot Dot Dot
The Skinny: A synth-riddled mess, Dot Dot Dot’s fashion-challenged frontman liberally dabs eyeliner on his painfully emo peepers and hops around onstage like Crispin Glover on Ritalin. Their frenetic midtempo take on Elton John’s uber-ballad “Your Song” could be considered a form of torture under some bylaws of the Geneva Convention.
Vegas Odds: 15:1. We’ve already got a Brandon Flowers. We sure as hell don’t need another.

Denver and the Mile High Orchestra
The Skinny: The swing music revival crumbled with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s This Beautiful Life, but Belmont University music business alums Denver and the Mile High Orchestra have yet to receive the oxidized memo. Lead vocalist Denver Bierman lays on the schmaltz extra-thick with a cavalcade of brassy horn arrangements punctuating his every calculated over-emotion.
Vegas Odds: 10:1. Judge Shelia E has nearly pegged Denver and the Mile High Orchestra as the second coming of Chicago. But we can’t take Ms. E too seriously. She was the TV bandleader for The Magic Hour.

The Skinny: Warner Bros. Nashville evictees Sixwire smidges a tweak of twangy git’tar and then lobs almost criminal Appalachian a cappella harmonies down our willing Sing Out throats.
Vegas Odds: 2:1. For unleashing the banal countrypolitan vanilla better known as Carrie Underwood, it’s the least Mr. Fuller could do to let those Sixwire boys win.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

It just ain't Halloween unless the celebtard enter-taint-ment media (of which, I'm a disenchanted member) rates some Hollywood spandex wang.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sugar in their coffin

On Oct. 22,Lower East Side club Mo' Pitkins closed its neon blue spotlighted doors.

The popular celeb cabaret hangout, which sported the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Moby and Nina Hartley, had fallen on some hard times.

The New York Post reported last September that Walker & Malloy hocked the building and its contents for a cool $5.5 mil.

It's a shame, too. The forlorn waitstaff who shoot haggard looks as if you're asking to sneak slaves through an underground railroad in lieu of simple chocolate martini, notwithstanding, Mo' Pitkins was one of the last great cabaret spots in the city.

It's the place where you can see unkillable downtown drag king Murray Hill's ultra campy variety show as well as upstart female comics in 'Chicks and Giggles.'

On one of the last CMJ Music Marathon performances at Mo' Pitkins, yodeling cowpoke Curtis Eller bawled through a banjo-picking litany of Civil War tunes, subtly poking the dead comparison horse as he asked "where's Lee Harvey Oswald when you need him?" with a brainy NPR-resolve. It's punk rock meets the Blue Mountain Ridge.

Check out more of Mr. Eller's music here.

Forest for the trees

Colin Meloy is a self-professed musical theater heretic.
The bespectacled frontman of The Decemberists told National Public Radio’s Terry Gross that he dabbled in The Music Man with a geekboy fandom in high school and there’s even his unreleased musical floating about the nether-regions of Portland, Ore.

So it isn’t any wonder that the band’s 2006 Japanese folk opus The Crane’s Wife was transformed into a prog-rock-meets-Broadway masturbatory fantasy on the band's most recent tour.

The Carson Ellis-inspired theater curtain looked like an indie-drenched interpretation of Swan Lake with a fairy tale scene of frogs and sunkissed princes. Combined with the paper-thin Japanese lampshades that hung above the performer’s heads, the Decemberists stage layout was almost a baroque-rock summer formal.

“It’s the third show of twlight in the Fearful Forest tour 2007,” Meloy said in his trademark literary blowhard prose as he tossed bookish meat to the crowd.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Homeless Kitty of the Week

Back when my roomie and I had dirt poor issues, scrounging through garbage cans for discarded Hot Pockets and the like, we adopted kittens in hopes of providing them with a syringe-less bed to curl upon. We didn't divulge our urges to the goodness of a higher calling, oh no.

You see, we provided the sick kitties with a place to stay for cold, hard cash. (Next week, I'll talk about my hooker-dom.)

Jezebel (pictured, right) was the kitty who suffered an abortion. During mid-preggers, Jezebel had a complication which ended with the result of her babes being yanked from her uterus.

I called her Jezebel because she was a whore, a dirty filthy kitty whose soul I prayed away to Jesus. I can't recall who adopted Jezebel, but suffice to say, her soul's been wiped clean.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


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This dish was Jew-licious! I'll say one thing about Israel—those Jews can cook!

Pan with tight fitting lid
A few splashes of the best olive oil you can get
4-6 cloves garlic, roughly diced
One 28-ounce can tomatoes (lightly smashed and pressed in a fine strainer, save the juice for a Bloody Mary)
A few pinches of Israeli Spice Mix (to personal taste)
3-4 large eggs

1. Oil the pan liberally and lightly saute diced garlic. Add the tomatoes, Israeli Spice Mix and more olive oil if needed. Mix, bring to a low simmer and cook uncovered, over low heat until thick, stirring occasionally. (20 min or so)

2. Bring Shakshuka to a medium simmer. Make a "well" in the mixture using the back of a large spoon and gently break the eggs into "wells" of the tomato mixture. Cover and continue to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the eggs are set. Bring the frying pan directly to the table.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Sexually Repressed Christian

My first crush was gay for Jesus. I really wanted him to be just gay for me.
It’s a common refrain for Southern-bred liberals, a forlorn tune that echoes in the deepest hollers of the human heart: “My lover left me for Jesus after he discovered we’re going to Hell.”
“God, do you know how many almost relationships get fucked up by Jesus?” my friend Amanda once told me over a glass of ice tea, crushing her sugarcubes against the glass into an indiscernible white cokelike dust.
“You can’t win against Jesus, Joey,” she added. He always has more to offer. Trust me, going up against Jesus, you’re fucked every time.”
And yes, at the end of the day, I was the one left holding Satan’s bouquet.
The social exorcism of small-town doldrums had my sexually repressed Christian under its thumb. And for two people who could barely utter the words “gay” or “homosexual,” this presented, a shall we say, “unique challenge.”
I would have dreams of showering with the sexually repressed Christian.
His pubes are splendid. They're all bushy tailed and neatly plucked, emitting a Panteen Provene sheen. His adorable eyebrows arching upward as I soap my balls.
The downside is that the shower is emitting toxic chemicals and we're soon bespotted in chemical burns. Our skin gradually turns into a bloody landscape of gaping holes and pockmarked grayish pus. We looked like rejects from a Cesar Romero pic.
"See what happens when you have the homosex," my Repub aunt would say during the dream capstone, "your pecker nearly burns off for Jesus."
For my sexually repressed Church of Christ crush, this really was a spot-on analogy. I mean, since I was Methodist, to him, our denomination was a few steps behind Satanists, anyway. If we did have
My sexually repressed Christian worked at a Christian-themed after school program for inner city children. He would rattle off a few stanzas of “Jesus Saves” to disenchanted Kinder-a-care children, little eyeballs blinking back an insurmountable void. They figured that the “Jesus Saving” was the only thing negating the rapscallions from turning into a bad Michelle Pfeffier movie.
But at was that day in the elitist school parking lot that my relationship with the sexually repressed Christian screeched to a grinding halt.
“You’re breaking up with me?” I said. It wasn’t really a relationship per se, only if you called steamy text messages and late-night wank sessions “a relationship.” Since I was merely 16, and desperate for any kind of gay sex, I denoted it as such.
“I can’t see you anymore,” the sexually repressed Christian said. “Each time I see you, you’re sending me one step closer to Hell.”
I had never broken up with anyone before, but that just seemed a tad hyperbolic to me.
A railroad spike had punctured my heart repeatedly with its sheer brute force right to the chest.
I thought I could win the sexually repressed Christian with a few good Cap’n Crunches to the face and a proffer of mom’s subscription to Guidepost.” But at the end of the day, some things aren’t meant to be.
The sexually repressed Christian kept his distance. He had 401K plans, stock options and a Stepford Wife to keep him busy. I had pretty much blotted the sexually repressed Christian out of my life until one day when I stumbled upon a familiar looking face in the chat room.
There was the sexually repressed Christian, plain as day. He looked good.
Since he fucked up my ideals of a teenage puppy dog romance, I decided to fuck with him.
“Aren’t you supposed to be straight?” I typed furiously.
There was a dead pause. You could feel the terror across the intertubes of the Internet.
“Do I know you?” the sexually repressed Christian asked. “Because y’know, I’m just curious about the whole gay thing.”
Frankly, the whole “Do I know you?” query frustrated the living shit out of me. “I jerked you off for two years,” I typed. “And do I know you?”
And then it dawned on him. He knew.
“I’m sorry,” he wrote. “I never meant to hurt you with the whole you’re going to Hell thing.”
And there it was. The apology that I thought I would have to move heaven and hell to procure.
The sexually repressed Christian decided to meet the next afternoon for snacks. It was to be a coming home party for homosexuality.
I primped my hair and Jeff Gannoned my appearance. I wanted to be the poster child for turning my fellow Christians into queers, so I wore a freshly ironed shirt and pleated khaki pants. I looked like I had promise for once.
That night, the sexually repressed Christian made love to me under the stars. I won’t go into much detail, but after repressing his sexuality for so long, it must’ve felt good to let that shit out for a change.
After we finished, the sexually repressed Christian piped up yet again. “I have to go see The Passion of the Christ with my church group.”
And after casting the chains that bounded our sexuality, our very being into drone
I was free my chains and shackles, comfortable under the blanket of gay Christianity. He was not.
Even in the midst of gay sex, the fundamentalist version of Jesus was still screwing me.
“Okay. Have fun.”
Suffice to say, the sexually repressed Christian didn’t return my phone calls after the Passion of the Christ. But this time, I actually saw it coming for once.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Question of the Week

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Could somebody please stop letting Sarah Jessica Parker dress herself?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

An eyeless homeless man saddled beside me outside the Staten Island bodega.

"You got any spare change?" he wanted to know.

I digged through my pockets, fingering strands of lint and wrinkled rolling papers. Finally I shook my head in a stern 'no.'

The eyeless homeless man wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. "You like football?" he asked.

"Um, not really." I shrugged my shoulders with an aloof gesture of "oh well."

He wasn't buying what I was selling. "You like basketball?"

"I don't really like sports." The words fell out of my mouth with an emasculating thud. I couldn't shove them back inside.

"You like suckin' that cock, don't you?" he prodded.

I didn't know what to say. I stood there panic-stricken for a moment. I really needed to purchase some Chinese food.

"Can I buy you a Coke?" I proposed.

The eyeless homeless man paused. Clearly, he was thinking it over.

"Yeah, get me a 7-Up."

I went inside the Staten Island bodega, ordering a Styrofoam box of MSG-encrusted Chinese food. The problem? No 7-Ups.

At the crucial moment of indecisiveness, I decided to purchase a Sprite, instead. I mean, lemon-lime scented, right? It works on some level.

"They didn't have 7-Up, so I bought you a Sprite," I told him outside. I presented him with the green can like it was a prized possession.

The eyeless homeless man looked at me like I spat in his face. "I'm not drinkin' that shit," he said.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Overheard in New York: Hardhat Watersports

Hardhat: Sometimes I like pissing on the sawdust floor and seeing the dust come right back up in the air.

--Bryant Park

Overheard by: TVontheFritz


Monday, September 24, 2007

Tanglewood Numbers

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Cortney Tidwell
Don’t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled

UK critic darlings are a tricky thing. Slap an NME-mark-of-approval on willy nilly, and you’re likely to alienate the soy latte hipsters you’re so desperately trying to attract. (Hipsters can smell your desperation like an Arthur-reading basset hound.)
But if given the proper breeding ground, UK critic darlings endure the second-coming-of-The-Muse overhype that turns hipsters off faster than you can say the words “Toad the Wet Sprocket” and “reunion tour.”
UK music journalist fave Cortney Tidwell is the real deal, however. Her US release Don’t Let the Stars Keeps Us Tangled is a slow burn of beer-soaked tears, c’untry music and trippy electro-pop hooks.
Ms. Tidwell’s fragile voice sounds like the Ozark version of Bjork, too. It’s lovely and damn near bizarre at the same time.
Ms. Tidwell’s mama was a failed country music ‘sanger’ and her grandpappy a rotating musician derelict for the Grand Ole Opry. And listening to Don’t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled, it’s obvious that this girl’s got the broodin’ in her blood.
On the title track and ‘La La,’ Ms. Tidwell’s voice trembles in the lower registers before soaring into a breathy trance at the prodding of her psychotropic backing orchestra. It’s as if something supernal is taking place with the way Ms. Tidwell merges her chamber-Americana and nu-folk leanings.
Don’t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled was recorded in Nashville, Tenn. And it isn’t shocking that Ms. Tidwell’s caravan of sidemen includes countrypolitan indie-band, Lambchop, yet another band that constantly nudges the dead corpse of country music.
Lambchop and Ms. Tidwell are two peas-in-a-pod. They’re constantly expanding the definition of what it means to make country music in the dawn of the techno-age with sounds so left-of-center that Music Row execs can only shoot their dumbfuck gazes in response.

Reasons Stephen Colbert is Gay

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Overheard in my boyfriend's apartment

Joey: I think the crackheads are staring at my balls again."

I always think that the crackheads who live across the alley from my boyfriend's apartment are staring at my balls. In reality, they're smoking copious amounts of crack and watching Larry King reruns at all hours of the night.

I know that the social anthropologists in the reading audience are saying to themselves, "Joey, why do you walk around your boyfriend's apartment bare-assed naked?"

To which I respond, "I usually don't."

You see, I grew up in the hollers. We didn't have neighbors nudged up against us, let alone crackhead neighbors.

I'm still getting used to the idea of a set of peepers dissecting my every move.

It's just that these peepers watch Larry King reruns at 4am and have a crystal clear view of the BF's bathroom as I relieve myself and give the crackheads a little salute like, 'yeah, here's Larry King's halftime entertainment."

It's just weird.

I wish they didn't smoke so much crack.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Charm School

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Suffice to say, I won't be making it to the Quasi Boyfriend's Boston cabaret show this weekend. If you are in the Boston area, it's gonna be a good show with Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls and John Waters-approved performance artist, Meow Meow. See hazily posted press release below:

American Repertory Theater and Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls present Sxip's Hour of Charm in Boston!

Wonderful, Curious and Fantastic. Music, Comedy and Variety hosted by real-life circus composer Sxip Shirey! Regularly described as indescribable, Sxip's Hour of Charm is an exhilarating sampling of the most exciting performing artists in the country today!

A long-time staple at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater in New York, Sxip's Hour of Charm is three weekends of music and performance that will delight, confuse and enlighten!

Each show is hosted by Sxip Shirey and features 6-8 different acts, including songwriters, circus artists, human beat boxers, story tellers, comics, aerialists and more. The darkly enchanting cast of characters changes from week to week with 3 unique weekends of performance. See all three shows!

American Repertory Theater's Club at Zero Arrow Theatre - Mass Avenue & Arrow Street in Cambridge Mass
Weekends, Sept. 14th-30th (Friday and Sunday at 8PM, Saturday at 7PM & 10PM)

Week One: Sept 14-16
Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls
Vocal loop wizard Reggie Watts
Cyr Wheel acrobat Jonas Woolverton
Gypsy punk accordionist Jason Webley
The aerial artistry of Una Mimnagh
Sxip Shirey and the incredible Obnoxiophone

Week Two: Sept 21-23
The enticing music of Erin McKeown
The dark and delicious Beat Circus
Cirque de Soleil's Eric Davis as "The Red Bastard"
Rock accordion powerhouse Corn Mo
Una Mimnagh and the beautiful Corde Lisse
Sxip Shirey and the haunting Industrial Flute

Week Three: Sept 28-30
The rich music of Emily Grogan
The deep original songs of Dayna Kurtz
Bronx rope-spinning cowboy AJ Silver
Raunchy, sweet, sexy comedy of Greg Walloch
Una Mimnagh and the rare and unusual Ceiling Walk
Sxip Shirey and his Mutant Harmonicas

Zero Arrow Club - Mass Avenue & Arrow Street in Cambridge Mass
$25 tickets available now (617) 547-8300

Monday, September 17, 2007

Southern Culture on the Skids

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The parental unit roared into Manhat this weekend. We lived large by visiting Strawberry Fields and generally partaking in the East Coast Sodom and Gommorah enclave.

The visit provided moments of high class culture shock comedy as I took Dad to Revolution Church, the progressive pseudo-Christian skater-punk congregation headed by one Jay Bakker (yes, the late Tammy Faye's liberal son.)

Located in a mildewy bar in the hipster heaven known as Williamsburg, the bar-church is plastered with band flyers including a blasphemous shoutout for Brooklyn band, Goddamn Rattlesnake.

"I like the church, but I disapprove of that there flyer," my Dad said with a hint of resignation, the cockleberries rolling off his tongue in a lazy 'r' sound.

Out on the streets, an effiminate looking hipster spazzed out in a velvet cape, twirling around on the street corner while barking like a rabid, American Apparel-wearing dog.

"You don't see that everyday in Nashville," was my Dad's spot-on cultural commentary.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Can I tell you something?

Riding the subway at 2am, it's always a grab bag of which intoxicated homeless prototype you're going to land.

I'm one of those libertarian-liberals with a heart of gold. My heart hasn't fully sunken into a hollow hole of Rand Institute economics quite yet.

But occasionally, my fresh faced idealism has been chomped to the bit by surly nomadic drunkards with a well-placed "whatchu-smiling-about-cracker?' That shuts my idealistic trap right up.

However, last night, geez o' petemoss, the drunken black homeless man on the A train was a hoot-and-a-half.

"Girl," he told a well-to-doer, "I may be shit-faced, but Ima' Sagitturus."

"That's nice," she responded, barely nudging her nose from her newspaper.

There was a pregnant pause. "Girl, you look like you Russian or some shit. You live in Greendale?"

The woman twisted uncomfortably on the subway bench, sharply shooting a glare from behind her glasses. "No," she said coldly.

"Well girl, lemme tell you sumethin'. I think you look Russian. Girl, I know all about them Russians. Matter of fact, I've got a book coming out later this year. It's called 'I Know Shit.'"

I couldn't help to laugh at this. It just tickled me just the right way.

The homeless man didn't seem to mind, either. He was the consummate performer.

The whole car descended into a fit of laughs, in fact. Big beautiful laughs, too, ones that you feel emanate from the pit of your belly.

Republican Like Me

Whenever TBS reruns Animal House on its late-night lineup, I always find myself nodding with drunken nostalgia. The drunken fraternizing and acid-induced streaking are universal hallmarks of institutionalized higher education.

Jim Belushi's piggish machismo and goonish hijinks remind me of my own youthful indiscretions—like the time I crashed the monthly meeting of MTSU's Raider Republicans.

While my classmates partook in less nerdy pursuits, such as digging through upturned sofa cushions for misplaced condoms, I hobnobbed with tightly wound George Bush lovers. In the purest sense, this so-called covert operation was actually rather well publicized. I had e-mailed my intentions to MTSU's conservative blogger and resident firebrand, Kara, months prior to the tentative troublemaking.

“You want to do what?” she wrote.

As her liberal-blogging adversary, I could hear the fear in her voice. I imagined her fingers clutching the keyboard, her jowls clasped tightly shut like a monastic nun who stumbles upon the seminary glory hole.

I explained that my purpose was far from predatory. There would be no galvanizing or Michael Moore-worthy rantings on her watch, thank you very much.

"It's just for kicks,” I told her. “You know how these crazy college kids today snort a line of rufies for their impending all-night boinkfest? Well, I get my jollies from pretending to be Republican."

Truth be told, I didn't have a lot of experience with Republicans. Most of my face time with conservatives had been of the tight-fisted libertarian variety, and while Libertarians are like Republicans in some ways, they're generally less evil; mainly because they're too stoned to stir any dander.

On the other hand, I've dated my fair share of sport-utility (SUV) drivers. These fleeting relationships always end miserably as I tend to pick at their chosen means of transportation like a festering scab. We'll be idling peacefully in rush-hour traffic, and my rabid tree-hugger persona will suddenly unbind itself from the formal doe-eyed niceties: "Do you realize that by driving this monstrosity you're drilling a hole into the ozone the size of Texas?" I tell them.

I can't help myself, really. Suffice to say, SUV drivers never return my phone calls. I'm probably blacklisted or something.

I wanted my scheduled tryst with the Raider Republicans to be less, well, confrontational. I’ve seen The O’ Reilly Factor. I didn’t want my ass to be torn apart by vicious conservatives like it was a beef-jerky party tray.

So 30 minutes prior to the meeting, I couldn't stop fretting about my outfit. I wanted to waltz into the room and have their beady Raider Republican eyes automatically scanning my figure and finding me one of their own. But most importantly, I wanted to know the republican secret handshake.

"Does my outfit scream Republican to you?" I asked a co-worker.

"You look like a lesbian with a 5 o' clock shadow," she said.

Considering my Birkenstocks and Buddy Holly glasses, my bloodshot eyes and uncombed hair, I had to admit she wasn't too far off. I looked as if I were attending the monthly Planned Parenthood meeting and not a soiree for pinstriped young money-grubbers.

During their tireless Pledge of Allegiance and emotional fireworks display for all things American, I snaked into a back row seat. A roundly Limbaugh-esque Raider Republican shot me a sour look with his sunken little eyeballs.

“You’re not one of us,” he seemed to be saying. “I can smell the patchouli and incense on your breath three ways ‘til Sunday.”

But sadly, the bulk of the Raider Republican meeting unfolded without incident. I did have to punch myself, though, when the chapter president likened both Harold Ford Jr. and Bill Clinton to Satan. I considered jumping out of my seat to bark, “And Hillary is a first-class bitch.”

However, I thought that might be overdoing it.

As the meeting petered out and the young conservatives invited me to a nearby Mexican restaurant, I took a rain check in favor of hippie-vegetarian food at Calypso Cafe with my socialist friend, Maria. There, in the middle of bean dishes and tofu burgers and my friend's railings against the man, I felt like Dorothy after her trip to Oz. I had failed miserably at moonlighting as a Republican, but at least I was home.

All I want for Christmas is a pair of rhinestone titties

Let me just say that I’m not Dolly Parton.

As a ten-year-old boy, I wanted to become Dolly Parton. I would tear into the brittle plastic wrapper of my mother’s Dr. Scholl’s heel cushions, later clamping them securely around my bosoms. The foamy mouth brushed coolly against my skin as the round, fleshly orbs protruded comically from my shirt like two deformed tits.

I craned my neck, giving myself the once-over in my mother’s armoire. In my mind’s eye, the faux boobage bloomed into perky breasts speckled in rhinestone. It was to be a living monument to Dolly Parton’s 1977 album, Here You Come Again.

I was gonna be drinking and laughing and having a party with my mother’s Dr. Scholl’s Heel Cushion for Women with the Sensitive Heel.

I jiggled the Dr. Scholl’s heel cushions and shot the armoire a plaintive look.

“Hmm. Would it be possible to gerryrig a contraption so that I could spout little rivulets of breast milk down the chins of my sister’s Cabbage Patch dolls as they licked their lips in childlike anticipation?” I wondered.

Who knew that Dr. Scholl’s Molded Cushions for the woman with the sensitive heel could in turn make me feel like a natural woman?

I yammered senselessly about my newfound idée fixe at Christmas dinner, providing my parents with a cringeworthy holiday moment for years to come.

“Remember that time your kid mentioned something about trying on a pair of titties that turned out to be your wife's heel cushions?" my uncle would casually remark in his later years. My Dad’s face blanched, losing all color. He barked a polite laugh and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He looked like he could shit a cinderblock.

The “incident” as it was later called happened at Christmas 1994. Ma in her kerchief and I in my Dr. Scholl Heel Cushion for Women with the Sensitive Heel.

Up from the plates arose such a clatter. I was like the CarMax salesman with the perfect pitch blather.

“They provide perfect suction on their foam tips and it makes it look like I have actual titties,” I recklessly explained.

Long silence. My Uncle Sluggo stared me down as he thumbed his utensils at his sides with a look as if I just announced that I had terminal cancer.

My Aunt Deb attempted to crush the ice into palatable mounds. “Oh, boys will be boys will be boys,” she carefully surmised.

But it was there amid the bowlfuls of cranberry jelly and the tufts of hardened turkey encrusted on Uncle Sluggo’s round belly, that a seed had been planted and it was sprouting into something fresh, strange and new. I sure as hell wasn’t Dolly Parton, but I also wasn’t similar to these people at all.

So what if I stood in front of an armoire punching my titties down into my mama’s heel cushions? Was that a marginally better life than sitting in front of the television’s incandescent glow watching NASCAR while chewing on turkey gristle?

That night I went home and took my mama’s heel cushions out of the shoebox. They glistened like two glittery orbs , beckoning to be touched, as a sliver of Tennessee moonlight peeked through my bedroom window.

I jiggled the Dr. Scholl’s heel cushions and shot the armoire a plaintive look. And somewhere, deep in the corners of my brain, I heard the opening chords of the Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil ballad Here You Come Again play on my granny’s scratchy RCA phonograph. It was clear as crystal. And Dolly’s warm voice was like an old friend.

And for a split second, everything seemed okay with the world.