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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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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….

target-coat.jpg

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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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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There are only two movies in wide release this weekend, as no one wants to go up against Saw IV. I honestly don’t know anyone that watches these anymore, but someone must be because they always seem to make a killing (and a torturous one at that).

Saw IV: Television has informed me that this weekend “is Saw weekend.” I had no idea. I saw the first Saw movie several Halloween’s ago, and wow did it suck. I mean, it SUCKED. And naturally, my expectations weren’t particularly high for a poorly reviewed Cary Elwes torture movie. Yet here we are, four movies deep, and the franchise is still going strong. In this installment, a guy decides to torture his victims by making them watch the rest of the Saw films over and over again until they go insane and kill themselves. This is playing at the United Artists on Court Street.

Cary Elwes

Must…call…agent and get myself cast in better…movie.

Dan In Real Life: From writer/director Peter Hedges (Pieces of April) comes this new dysfunctional family comedy starring Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, John Mahoney, Dianne Wiest and Dane Cook. After watching the trailer, I can’t say it looks very good. For starters, it didn’t make me laugh, which isn’t good for a comedy. Secondly, Dane Cook is in it. Is he trying to be a legitimate actor? Because that makes me scared. And thirdly, how many fucking movies (and movie trailers) must we endure that use the song “Let My Love Open the Door” by Pete Townshend? There have been many songs since the eighties that could probably convey as much or even more emotion than this one. This is playing at the United Artists on Court Street and the Park Slope Pavilion.

Then, in limited release we have:

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead: This is my pick of the week. Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon) directs this heist film about two brothers (Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman) who decide to rob their parents’ jewelry store. Sidney Lumet is a fantastic director, and he could use a hit after his last box office failure: Find Me Guilty. Luckily this film doesn’t star Vin Diesel. In fact, we’re lucky that most films these days don’t star Vin Diesel. This is playing at the Angelika.

Music Within: Ron Livingston stars as a hearing impaired Vietnam veteran who starts working with disabled Americans. It’s based on a true story, and the trailer looks good enough. As far as I can remember, Ron Livingston hasn’t really had much of a starring role since Office Space, so I guess we’ll see how he does here. This is playing at the AMC Loews on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan.

Bella: I hadn’t heard of this, but so far it seems to be getting really bad reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s about a waitress who is fired right after she finds out she is pregnant. The father is an international soccer star. Romance ensues. This is playing at Union Square.

Rails and Ties: Kevin Bacon stars in this drama about a train conductor who orphans a kid by running over his mother with a train. Unfortunately, the plot seems far too serious and somber to make a Footloose joke here. Also worth noting, the film is directed by Clint Eastwood’s daughter, Alison. This is playing at the Angelika.

Jimmy Carter Man From Plains: This documentary follows Jimmy Carter while on tour for his new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. I’m pretty sure the film also talks about his Presidential term, his foreign policy accomplishments, his educational programs, Habitat for Humanity, his destruction of the Death Star, his ability to bench press eight hundred pounds and the fact that he speaks Portuguese fluently. It was directed by Jonathan Demme. This is playing at the Angelika.

Jimmy Carter Man From Plains

Meanwhile BAM Rose Cinemas continues playing Into the Wild, Lust, Caution and The Darjeeling Limited.

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Hi Guys. It’s that time again. Time for a “Gossip Girl” recap to prepare you for tonight’s ep. Because I know how much you love it.

So last week was all about Blair and her annual slumber party. And who doesn’t love a good slumber party? (Hey, did any of you ever eat so many black jelly beans at a sleepover that you puked all over your sleeping bag? Because I did.) Now, If there’s one thing I learned from last week’s episode of GG, it’s that the affluent know how to throw the best slumber parties, ever. Personal manicure stations, cupcakes, clear cookie jars filled to the brim with what I can only assume to be the finest chocolate chip cookies in all the land, twin beds with satin sheets for all, meaning not just the host gets to rest on a mattress while the guests are forced to sleep in their hand me down Garfield sleeping bags with no substantial cushion left in them, and racks of designer clothes were all provided for the attendees. It was glamazing.

And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, not just anyone is invited to this event. First of all, no boys allowed (lame). Second, since Blair’s throwing the party, you know just how exclusive the guest list is. Therefore, it’s no surprise that little Jenny Humphrey (Dan’s little sister) was siked beyond belief when invited. I mean, even I was excited for her. But we soon find out Blair has much more than nail polish and tasty treats planned for JH . See, this little get together is more like a sorority hazing event for “the new girl” than an actual party, which, is awesome. And everyone but Jenny seems to know this, as when told they will be playing truth or dare Jenny responds with, “I love truth or dare! One time I had to eat an entire bag of marshmallows!” Oh Jenny, sweet, sweet Jenny, you clearly have no idea what you’re getting into. And you’ve obviously never eaten an entire tray of rice krispy treats of your own volition.

Meanwhile, Dan and Serena are finally about to go out on their second date. Everyone’s stoked. Especially Dan, who busts out his bag of rainy day money, comprised entirely of coins, to help pay for the first class date he plans to take Serena on. Okay, I realize Dan’s fam isn’t wealthy, but doesn’t he have a part-time job then? A job where he doesn’t make so little he’s forced to pay his way through the night in quarters? I’m just saying. Bank account. But also, Dan thinks Serena wants nothing less than a Michelin star restaurant and personal driver for the evening, however, what she’s actually excited for is the opposite: a low key night in Brooklyn…rebel style. They’re totally on different pages here. Has Dan never seen a movie or read a book explaining how the only thing cool rich girls want is to ride a motorcycle and go to a hip underground club? I should really lend him a copy of every movie that centers around a date with the President of the United State’s daughter. Because I have several of them.

Once it’s established that Serena doesn’t need all the glitz and glam Dan thought interested her, the two race off to the East Village for a game of pool at some dive bar. It is here where we discover Serena is no pool champ. In fact, she sucks. I thought maybe the producers would go the, “I may look pretty, but I’m secretly as good as a pool shark” route, but they chose to stay on the “I’m sort of helpless” trail. I dig it. So as Dan’s instructing Serena the proper way to hold a que, the two find themselves in a compromising position and lean in for a kiss. But Dan’s cock blocked when his father, Rufus, interrupts them with a phone call. Rufus calls to ask if Serena’s little brother is with them. Dan answers “no” and asks why he wants to know, and Rufus explains that Serena’s little brother escaped from rehab. What’s important to note here is that during this call Serena’s mother, Megan from Melrose Place, is with Rufus at his loft. This is because a long time ago, Rufus and Megan from MP were once an item and have been visiting each other, in a purely frienemy fashion, ever since they found out Dan and Serena were dating. I think/hope they’re getting together to discuss how weird it is their children are on their way to paramoursville. All their children. Literally. Since something seems to be brewing between Jenny and S’s little brother as well. Incest by association.

In case you were wondering why Serena’s little brother went missing in the first place, I’ll tell you. As stated earlier, Blair plans for the truthiest or dariest game of truth or dare, and for Jenny’s first dare she’s ordered to break into Serena’s little brother’s room at the rehab center and set him free. This is accomplished. The crowd then moves onto Marquee, a nightclub. While at Marquee Jenny dares Blair to make out with a gross hedge fund guy. This is accomplished. Blair next dares Jenny to call up the gross hedge fund’s girlfriend from his cell phone, which Blair pick pocketed from him, and let the gf know what a skanky slutman it is she’s dating. This is accomplished. Then hedge fund guy’s gf races to the club and tries to fight Jenny and Blair, even though the gf should really be beating up her cheater boyfriend. Typical girl hate. Finally Dan, who shows up at Marquee with Serena, intervenes and is all, “This girl (Jenny) is 14!” And everyone’s like, “What?” And Jenny’s all, “That’s right. Not even legal.” And everyone’s a little sketched out.

The episode ends with Serena and Dan finishing up their kiss from earlier, Serena’s little brother returning to the rehab center and apologizing to his mother for leaving, and Blair giving Jenny one final dare: to break into Blair’s mother’s store and steal a jacket. Jenny says “I’ll do it,” alarms go off, Jenny is caught by the police, but then gets out of it by pretending she’s Blair (the owner’s daughter), and it’s evident Jenny is on her way to becoming the next Queen Bee.

The End.

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New York Area Skeptic(s): Love Thy Neighbor

The NYC Skeptics forum is a little concerned about our use of the word “skeptic.” Whereas they like to spend their skeptical time discussing the intricacies of, uh, not believing things, we – as they rightly point out – “focus primarily on the latest episode of ‘Dancing with the Stars’.”

Hey, I’ll take a shout out where I can get it.

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As October continues to be eerily hot, here are some more movies to watch with the air conditioning on:

Murder Party

Murder Party: There is a scene towards the end of this film where a Greenpoint hipster, dressed as one of the Baseball Furies from The Warriors,

is hunting someone down while walking through a Brooklyn art show. He is ignored by most of the party despite being covered in blood and screaming. Finally he walks into a room where there are several people posing for a “still life” exhibition. “Fuck this scene,” he says quietly, “everyone dies.” He then beats them all to death with his baseball bat before his head is split in half with a chainsaw.

This is an especially gruesome scene in Murder Party, a new Brooklyn-based horror movie that was a favorite at Slamdance and is now available on Netflix. The rest of the film is actually quite funny, and tells the story of a clueless guy who is invited to a “murder party,” not realizing that he will be the centerpiece in a twisted art show concocted by a group of clueless, apathetic hipsters. I strongly recommend this to not only horror fans, but all Brooklynites as well. If you like your horror with a little comedy, like Shaun of the Dead or Sliver, you’d probably enjoy this too.

Wait Until Dark: Audrey Hepburn stars as a blind woman who unknowingly has people snooping around her apartment, looking for a toy doll that is filled with heroin. This film is very similar to Hitchcock, and is based on a play by Frederick Knott (who, not surprisingly, also wrote Dial M For Murder). Audrey Hepburn is incredible, as is a young and terrifying Alan Arkin, who plays the brutish Harry Roat. While it’s not exactly action packed, the finale is great and completely unexpected. Strongly recommended for Hitchcock fans, as well as fans of psychological horror films like Copycat or claustrophic films like Bug.

Wait Until Dark

Stir of Echoes: This movie came out at almost the exact same time as The Sixth Sense and was completely overshadowed by M. Night’s twist ending and Haley Joel Osmentness. Kevin Bacon stars as Tom Witzky, a Chicago utilities lineman who starts seeing fucked up things after being hypnotized at a party. His son can see things too (yet another similarity to the above) and the two of them have to work together to solve a savage neighborhood crime. This one was less gimmicky than M. Night’s, and personally, I’ll take Bacon over Bruce any day. Also, the Bacon Brothers are not featured on the soundtrack. Considering the way that Kevin Bacon’s character pulls a Jack Torrance, I’d recommend this to fans of the Shining.

Stir of Echoes

May: I couldn’t figure out whether I wanted to put May or Ginger Snaps on here. Both feature a female lead, and are new takes on horror legends. I decided to put May because I think the director, Lucky McKee, has a cooler name. May is the story of a young woman with no friends. She works at an animal hospital where she assists in surgeries and learns the fundamentals of working with needles and sewing people up. She is socially awkward, but meets a guy (Jeremy Sisto) who she begins to date because she finds his hands so attractive. She weirds him out and he starts to leave, until she comes up with the idea that she can make her own friend using spare parts. It’s creepy fun, but also a little disturbing. Check it out if you’ve always thought that Tim Burton could stand to be a little sicker and a little less sentimental.

May

And that’s all for now. More next week!

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If you are like me, you’ve breathlessly been watching the new Fox Business Network (this is a lie).

This isn't news.

I’m sure you’ve seen the new Fox Business Network posters appearing in the subways, which are begging to be defaced (graffiti “artists”, hoodlums & vandals: get to work, I want to see which direction you go here).

Murdoch said, “”We want to spend a lot of time on innovation, successes and people who are making money”, and Ayn Rand’s zombie cheered! He went on to say that the business channels, “…dwell too much on failures and scandals and politics”. I overheard on NPR that some of this “dwelling” was done too much on Enron. Thank goodness, Fox Business will do to any business scandals, what Fox News did to the Iraq War (wish it away).

I personally hope this reinforces the battle of “wall street vs. main street” reinforces the other war, and finally ends the injustices put upon the majority of Americans by the liberal rich elites. If this is so, I’m sure that the News Corp. will let me know where I stand.

Also please tune in next week when News Corp. introduces the Fox Food Network. Finally getting rid of those frou-frou, pinko, lobster & caviar recipes, and instead teaching you how to cook one of those inherently good, country styled, chicken-fried steak, like a real American.

chicken fried steak, an american past time.

Until then, if this is your thing, keep watching. I’m sure by this time next year it will be the business channel to watch…and Murdoch will finally fulfill his world domination plans and finish his tireless work on rebuilding the Death Star.

actual image

actual evidence of construction

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