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Archive for October, 2007

When I first moved to New York, I was a misguided Manhattanite with little knowledge of the great borough of Brooklyn. Manhattan was brand new to me, with thousands of bars and restaurants at my disposal. Why on earth would I want to leave and try out Brooklyn?

At the time, I was also reading a biography called Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing, which, despite being mainly set in Portland and Los Angeles, described a small portion of Smith’s life in which he lived in Park Slope. Although he played the odd show at clubs in Manhattan, he apparently spent most of his time in bars in Brooklyn, and wrote his most critically acclaimed album, XO, while sitting in O’Connor’s.

Upon reading this, I decided to venture into this second borough, making O’Connor’s the first bar I ever visited in Brooklyn. It’s been around since 1931, and I find it hard to believe that a whole lot has changed since then. Aside from adding a few televisions, the price of any beer rests firmly at around $3 to $3.50 (well drinks are around the same price). The bar stools and booths all feel a little like they might collapse beneath you. Even the smell is one of an old, damp Brooklyn bar where you can imagine your grandfather sitting down and ordering a cheap bottle of beer.

I revisited the bar last night with BS enthusiast bearclaw, and was surprised to see that even on a Tuesday night at midnight, the bar was not empty. What is interesting about this bar is that unlike Jackie’s 5th Amendment or Old Carriage Inn (two other old bars in Park Slope), it seems to be a place where youngsters and their grandparents can co-exist peacefully. This is not to say that I have ever see a brawl break out at Jackie’s, but I’ve also never seen anyone there who didn’t have their AARP card on hand. What might bridge the age gap at O’Connor’s? A fantastic jukebox. While going through it, we saw everything from The New Pornographers to Ray Charles. They used to have XO, but have now changed to Smith’s posthumously released From a Basement on the Hill. We played a few songs from this album, in addition to some Loretta Lynn. While listening, it was easy to hear why Smith would choose a bar like O’Connor’s. It’s not a rowdy place, but somewhere you go for good conversation, or to blend in the background, listen to music and quietly drink.

Pros: Cheap, friendly staff, good people-watching, great jukebox.

Cons: No beer on tap, dark, not always available seating.

O’Connor’s
39 5th Ave
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Elliott Smith

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Ashley Olsen Dates Cyclist.

Ashley Olsen has a new, older man. The 21-year-old twin showed up to the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel Monday night with Tory Burch’s ex, Lance Armstrong, 36. Our bar spy said, “They came together with a group of friends. Ashley drank red wine, sat on his lap and they were making out all night. They left together around 2 a.m.” Olsen’s rep didn’t return calls.

Um, no Ashley. No.

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I am a big fan of many of NY Mag’s online features… they help me find things like restaurants, stores, and things that I should or should not approve of.

I just tried out one of their newer features, the Shop-o-Matic. Right away, I like that it sounds like a Dr. Seuss invention, if Dr. Seuss were motivated by capitalism rather than love and friendship.

So since NY Mag is (thankfully) motivated by capitalism and that urge to spendspendspend!! their Shop-o-Matic provides us the opportunity to ogle this season’s exciting designs without leaving the comfort of our (my) home (cubicle).

You can view 114 women’s coats as a slideshow, and what I didn’t realize at first is that the price goes from low to high. So at the beginning I’m saying hey, I didn’t know Target had such a good looking coat for $90….

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And then with each successive click I’m saying huh.. I wish I had $325 to spend on this coat….

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And then is starts getting into the realm of things where it’s the coats that don’t even have price tags on them in the store, because blah blah blah if you have to ask then you can’t afford it.

And you know what? I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that sometimes clothes, like people, are ugly no matter how much money they are worth.

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$2,895 will get you the sleeves to end all sleeves.

 

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$16,800 will get you Oscar de la Renta’s grandma’s coat.

So, thank you NY Mag for reminding me that though I am still alternating between my $35 Old Navy jacket from 2004 and my dad’s old down vest with a snap missing and the fluff coming out, I am still looking better than some crazy lady in a chinchila-lined coat.

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My close friends know me to be a total public radio podcast obsessive. It started out innocently enough: an episode of This American Life or a quick update from Lake Wobegon. But then I turned to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, the occasional clip of Fresh Air, and even All Songs Considered from time to time. It transformed commuting into a joyous time filled with knowledge, humor, and other exulted pursuits of humanity. And for a long time, I thought there could be nothing greater in the world than This American Life. I like stories, ponderous ambient music, and the dulcet tones of Ira Glass’ voice. It was akin to pure happiness to me. Until I found WNYC’s Radio Lab.

Regular radio listeners will assure you that there hasn’t been a lot of technological advancement in radio since Tesla. And whoever figured out that smooshing a box of cornstarch sounded like walking in the snow. The limitations of the media are profound, at best. You’ve got yourself some information to transmit and only one mode of transmitting it. And even then, you can’t use the absence of the mode because you really just can’t have silence on the radio. It’s something of a feat to have such top notch art expressed only through constant sound.

Radio Lab’s format is not unlike a science-themed This American Life. Each episode has a main theme or question, and then, through stories, interviews, and traditional reporting, seeks to resolve the theme or answer the question. There was a recent episode on Space which, if possible, managed to convey the enormity of our infinitesimalness. This is a difficult feeling to digest while walking to work. Additionally, I spent an entire segment of the show covered in goosebumps as this woman was telling the story of how she worked on a project to record the essence of life on Earth onto a gold record with a shelf life of one billion years to shoot into space on the statistically near-impossible chance that some other life form might pick it up and listen to it and know that there was once this civilization that wanted to communicate. Ugh. Also, she was in love at the time and recorded her biofeedback, kind of secretly hoping the aliens would be able to translate that, too.

But in addition to really amazing content, I think the sound engineering is the best I’ve ever heard on the radio. The layering of sound and the ingenuity of incorporating different sources makes it really exciting and stimulating to listen to. Now, admittedly, I’ve watched very little TV in the past, oh, five years. It’s possible my senses are slightly more sensitive than a normal person’s. It is fascinating though.

Start listening.

Radio Lab – Available as a free weekly podcast on iTunes

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At first I thought this story was going to be about a sex tape or something, but it’s not. It’s about a 29 second video of a baby dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” This is great.

Holden Lenz, 18 months old, is the pajama-clad star of a 29-second home movie shot by his mother in the family’s rural Pennsylvania kitchen and posted last February on the popular video site YouTube. In the video, the child is seen bouncing and swaying for the camera, as, faintly, the Prince hit “Let’s Go Crazy” plays on a CD player in the background. Twenty eight people, mostly friends and family, had viewed the YouTube video by June, when mom Stephanie Lenz said she received an e-mail from YouTube informing her that her video had been removed from the site at the request of Universal Music Publishing Group, the recording industry’s largest label, and warning her that future copyright infringements on her part could force the Web site to cancel her account.

“It was Universal Music Publishing Group, and I was afraid that … they might come after me. … And the more afraid I got, the angrier I got. … I was afraid that the recording industry might come after me the way they’ve come after other people for downloading music or file sharing. I thought even though I didn’t do anything wrong that they might want to file some kind of suit against me, take my house, come after me.”

Okay Stephanie, we all know how scary it is to receive that first threatening letter from a major music label, God knows I’ve received one or seven in my time, but just calm down. I’m sure no one’s going to sue you for making this sort of mistake. Especially if only 28 people saw the video. And if the biggest threat Universal actually made in their email was the potential for the canceling of your YouTube account, I think you’re okay. I mean, I know this means you’d lose all the videos that you tagged as being your “favorite,” but other than that it takes about 4 seconds to create a new account.

But, enough bashing on Stephanie. She is, after all, the victim here.

Shortly after receiving the “Prince has found you” email, “Lenz filed a “counter-notice” with YouTube, and the Web site put her video back up about six weeks later.”

Hooray!

“The ‘Let’s Go Crazy baby?'” she asked rhetorically. “When you look at the facts, it’s obvious that a take down notice should never have been sent. … I mean, nobody downloads a video from YouTube with a song on it — particularly 29 seconds of a song and says, ‘OK, I don’t have to buy the song’ — so clearly this was a type of use that didn’t violate copyright.”

Haha. That shit’s funny. And true. I like Stephanie’s dry humor.

A well-placed source directly involved in the situation confirmed to ABC News that Prince was directly involved in seeking the takedown of Lenz’s video.

“This guy scours the Internet,” the source said of the legendary artist, who once changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and wrote the word “Slave'” on his cheek until he won back the rights to his music from another publishing company.

“He’s really intense about this stuff,” the source said, adding that Lenz’s video “happened to be one of many” that artist apparently located online and demanded be taken down.

Jesus Christ, . We all know you have a Napoleon complex, but don’t act like you rule the world. I know you’re probably upset after realizing your 2007 Superbowl performance was overshadowed by your hair which was beautifully wrapped in a purple scarf, but don’t take your regret out on the little people. But I am happy to see that even iconic celebrities search for themselves on the internet. Humanizes them.

So in the end I, like Stephanie Lenz, think it’s ridiculous to force a video down for this reason. And seeing as how, “[t]his is the first major case that we’ve seen where someone like a housewife is being targeted by a major recording company, but we’re starting to see more and more of these kinds of abuses,” I think it’s good she’s counter-suing the company. Especially because it’s over a dancing baby.

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On Friday, November 2nd, 2007, ChiefMag.com partners with 3rd Ward, Brooklyn’s finest creative facility, for a blow-out evening that includes a silent art auction, film screenings, and a live rock show. Come by for 50 works of art, 8 films, 4 bands, 3 DJs, open bar, kissing booth… all in one night, under one roof! At the magnificent artistic venue of 3rd Ward, the ChiefMag.com SILENT AUCTION, NOT SO SILENT ROCK SHOW is guaranteed to satisfy anyone’s thirst for a creative evening of film, art, and music.

Friday, November 2
7:30 PM Film Screening
9:00 PM Open Bar
3rd Ward
195 Morgan Avenue (at Stagg Street)
East Williamsburg, Brooklyn

RSVP Here

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Well, it’s official. Swedish pop sensation Ace of Base are reuniting. Awe. Some. I love these guys and their crazy lyrics.

YES.

Ace of Base played an important role in my upbringing. Their songs taught me that life is demanding without understanding, to never turn around, and most importantly, that all certain women want is another baby. They also brought this music video into my life at an early age:

I honestly think seeing this video at age 10 made me into the person I am today.

The Swede-mazing band is touring throughout various Scandinavian countries and Russia. Check out their schedule to see if they’re playing at a Lithuanian venue near you.

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