some birds are funny when they talk








Stuck in my Head
"Kiss Me Harder" by Bertine Zetlitz
"Hot" by Avril
"Brain Problem Situation" by They Might Be Giants

Now Reading
Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Recently Finished
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Mad Tony and Me by Carl Hoffman
Sweet Soul Music by Peter Guaralnick
This Must Be The Place: Adventures of Talking Heads in the 20th Century by David Bowman
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Movies Lately
4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days
Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour
2 Days in Paris
United 93
The Savages
The Bourne Ultimatum
Sweeney Todd
The Departed
What Would Jesus Buy?
Ghost World
I'm Not There
She's The Man
Lars and the Real Girl
Romance and Cigarettes
No Country for Old Men
Into the Wild
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
Across the Universe

Shows Lately
Damo Suzuki/Stinking Lizaveta @ Mill Creek
Death and the Maiden @ Curio
Devon Sproule/Carsie Blanton/Devin Greenwood/John Francis @ Tin Angel
Assassins @ The Arden
Oakley Hall and the Teeth @ Johnny Brendas
Isabella and Flamingo/Winnebago and Map Me and Gatz and Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven and Sonic Dances and Strawberry Farm and The Emperor Jones and No Dice and Hearts of Man and Principles of Uncertainty and Isabella and BATCH and Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre's 20th Century and Car and Sports Trilogy and Explanatorium and Wandering Alice and Must Don't Whip Um and Festival of Lies and A Room of Ones Own and Recitatif @ the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe
Martha Graham Cracker and Eliot Levin and Kilo etc. @ the Fringe Cabaret
Lullatone and Teletextile @ Boulder Coffee [Rochester]
TV Sound @ the M Room
Aretha Franklin @ East Dell, Fairmount Pk.
Romeo + Juliet in Clark Park
Daft Punk @ Red Rocks
Spoon @ Rockefeller Park
Ponytail at Pony Pants' House
Mirah/Benjy Ferree @ the 1UC
Tortoise @ World Cafe Live
Hall & Oates...ish
"Nuclear Dreams" - Mascher Dance Group, x2
The Four of Us @ 1812
Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines Machines by Rainpan whatever
Mascher Dance Group/Nathaniel Bartlett
Cornelius @ TLA
Sloan @ World Cafe
In Fluxxxx
Slavic Soul Party!/Red Heart the Ticker @ I-House
the Fantasticks @ Mum
Peter Bjork + Jorn/Fujiya + Miyagi @ fkaTLA
John Vanderslice @ Johnny Brendas
The Books & Todd Reynolds @ 1UC
Into the Woods @ LPAC
The Fishbowl @ the Frear
Caroline, or, Change @ the Arden
Low & Loney, Dear. @ 1UC

Monday, June 27

landing in the summer

so here, so there. i'm back from new york, again. that makes twice this week. summer is the season for new york, after all. philadelphia is a spring sort of place; likewise little sattelite swarthmore. (i just discovered that my philly/boston book has an entire appendix dedicated to swat history.) rochester, of course, is all about the winter. those are most of the places that i've lived, so that's all i can say about that.

("…and if you've been in new york city in july, you know when i say sticky i'm right")

spend too much time there and the nycentricity starts to muddle ones clarity [which is only partly why i couldn't let myself live there just yet - imagine if i tried to make life like my apple whirlwinds: could it sustain? wouldn't i flop? nay, an auslander's life for me]... but it's hard to be in it and not think, new york is summer. (tacitly excepting the season's wilderness component; the adirondacks are just an extension of wealthy new york city anyway.) something alluded to in the naumburg concerts booklet. anyway, my mind's new york, and summer only more so, is still inextricable from, was it really only two years ago now? equally hard to believe it was only for two months. but they were loaded.

now i have two more trips to add to the pile. visits to new york are always a little like time travelling - simultaneously visiting my past and my future. which is not to deny the present. homecomings/vacations/scouting missions. (or should i say reconnoiters.)

not quite right to say weekend one was high culture and two was low, okay it's just a lie. adult/youth cult is a bit closer, but still fudgy. at least, the first one was pretty much family focused, and this most recent i was among friends. (judy naumburg said something very nice about how college friends become families, but we shouldn't disregard our other, earlier families either, maybe there's not so much difference as we think about the roles they [can] play in our lives.) i guess the biggest thing was last week i was staying at my aunt's place, which somehow i'd never been to before - central park west @ 74th, twenty-third floor, pretty much unreal view of the city on all sides. this week i was scrounging couches and airbeds roundabout brooklyn.

so, the naumburg concerts weekend - slight return to the new york of my vague childhood, (only in clearer focus, with the benefit of geography), the kind with doormen and actually taking taxicabs. otherwise you start to think the park's about the only reason to go north of union square.

friday, we didn't get to find out what a fireboat was (apparently they don't do too well with water), but instead there was an impromptu congregation at artisanal. including jubilant unexpected reunion of last summer's boys' club (wanted to link but where's that photo?) new club btw: no plans lifetime. say, cheese? wow that place. the food, for one thing, but the space itself is also worth the trip. what i ate wasn't even all that cheesey, apart from gruyere gougeres and a shared fondue - but it was all delectable, the undeniable best being the snail ravioli appetizer i shared with zoe (and nobody else, thank you). it was kind of unfathomable. (rfg for sure.) good cheesecake too. anyway, that night i watched mean girls in anne's room with ben and then fell asleep in my clothes in the middle of tina fey's commentary. (she's funny!)

saturday was MoMA - High Line redesign, design permanent collection (made me think they should have a placard on everything in the building), Lee Friedlander's funny, touching, visually striking, intelligently American photos, and most memorably a long talk with my dad about architecture and design and music (we didn't finish taxonomizing sixties white rock.) also, he thought we should all go to the (current, illegal) high line as a family activity. probably not the best idea, but would have been adventurous. then bob led a charge (three strong, with joshypoo) to the (unnamed?) burger joint secreted behind a curtain in le parker meridien hotel, with only a discreet little neon icon to indicate its existence. good burgers.

oh right, and the new york philharmonic at lincoln center. they played dukas, sibelius, sibelius, stravinsky - three out of four were fantasia-related pieces, what does that tell you? it sounded good, nice and washy. i think "the sorceror's apprentice" might be a totally brilliant piece of music, but it's kind of impossible to tell if you've grown up since 1940, you know? i don't particularly like sibelius, and gil shahan, although he can play really fast, didn't change my mind. but "swan of tuonela" was nice - english horn i approve. of course it's always nice to hear "firebird." that'll wake ya up! all told very fun. i met some cousins i hadn't even heard of, whose first concert it was, so it was fun to hear their thoughts on it. there was a reception with about the ugliest cake i've ever seen.

then a detour to my favorite rooftop in greenpoint, for an establishing shot of manhattan by moonlight; juicy cornerstore sausages and onions from the grill; james' views on cities, sustainability and revolution; and the sweetest strawberries in memory. plus some early morning couch yoga. back with the family, i helped lead a "shopping" (er, the word is noodling - that's just how we roll) trip around soho, complete with koolhaas prada. and i took bobby and jeannine to see still my favorite new york thing, the cpdsa skate circle, which as it happens is just below the bandshell. i could gush; just go for yourself. (oh, and, next time i live in new york that's gonna be me. look, now i have a plan.)

dinner at tavern on the green was pretty amusing - those pictures only begin to suggest how insane that place is. the highlight for me was finding two pianos with the keyboards facing each other and just enough space in between to fit a single bench - naturally, i sat down sideways for some cramped-elbows two piano two hands. which should totally be a thing. i'd love to see a 2p2h virtuoso.

then we paraded to this concert. pretty adventurous programming - the ragtime thing was straight-up bizarre, and none of it was exactly easy listening. but much more my alley than the previous night, though i wouldn't have minded a couple fewer helicopters. the clarinet concerto was just lovely, especially watch the very animated, gleeful even, soloist. also, there were glowsticks, for some reason.

if you have any interest and/or the time, i recommend the booklet my cousin chris wrote about the history of the concerts - i certainly learned a lot about my family history, but also new york music history, and you can read the whole thing on the website. at least take a look at the cover image, which is quite nice. not the john lennon thing, that's just silly. (though speaking of, i kept hearing people playing beatles songs that weekend, and not just because i was living around the corner from strawberry fields.)

so that was that weekend. this one was a bit shorter, and more along my established routes, very much the 2003 reunion tour. starting with a yak w/ ye old boss yale, who is much the same as ever (digging on jorge ben, jacques tatie, caribou, and watkins glen, still not updating the website except in theory.)

then an hour spent trying to locate larissa's ukrainian solstice celebration, complete with pantomime, interpretive dance, live music and flower crowns - usually an hour late to a party wouldn't mean much; in this case i missed all the above (except the crowns, one of which i sported for much of the later evening.) but at least i had a companion in missed-directions, yael (sp?), who i encountered asking the subway station agent for directions (her first mistake, haha) and whose connection to the party i never quite established (we had never met before.) anyway, after an hour of attempting, we finally found the right park-on-bayard-street-just-beyond-the-bqe-underpass, and a lovely park it was too, for sure. later it was back to l's flat for more typical party stuff - boiled pierogies, loopy dancing to nouvelle vague, an eventual roofward exodus, more earnest talk with mr. james (i'm intrigued by his book recommendations, but can i really bring myself to read something called "yoga and the quest for the true self"? stay tuned.) much later, as it dwindled to just me, lars, and her babij sister (teehee), back to the park. by which point i'd been up for. i'd also had enough citrus wodka that i definitely should have been drunk, especially not having eaten much all day. but for some reason it didn't do a thing.

next morning i was up earlier than is reasonable, seared myself a pair of pierogi and read borges on nightmares. gotta love those sunny apartment early morning-afters. i realized it was exactly a year since another memorable brooklyn adventures weekend, the time that i took most of these pictures, and appropriately, there was another excellent (and suspiciously cheap) williamsburg brunch, this time with new friends like angela, of the newly formed "close to six" theatre group, about to stage hare's "the blue room" - crucially, we were right on the same page about splitting an avocado-bacon omlet and banana-stuffed challah f.t. - and {name?}, done with year two at uchicago law, who wants to be a p.d. in somewhere lawless like las vegas. no parades for me, mermaid, pride, or otherwise (unless you count the informal dogs-and-babies promenade in madison square), but i did cheer from the sidelines at the dyke march with benster. the marchers included a healthy quotient of swatties, some of whom bounded over to talk to us. and of course, the gaggle of nypd holding up the rear was worth a chuckle.

just two more things: the celebrate canada! o, and brooklyn too! concert at prospect park was a total blast. [paraphrasing e-mail]: sadies' set featured john spencer as leisure-suited elvis, with a preposterous amount of echo on his mic (is he canadian?) stars did their usual endearingly awkward epic cutesy, or whatever. the "set yourself..." songs sounded better than on record, i thought - also, amy was happy this time. but, the new pornographers just blew it up. they said it was the biggest crowd they'd ever played for, and i'm sure it was - there were a lottt of people there. so, the band was totally pumped, which always makes for a special show. but the fun didn't really start until the sixth or seventh song, "mass romantic," when somebody jumped the barrier separating us from the v.i.p. or whatever section in the front, and kids just started flooding over fences, mark and myself gleefully joining in, 'til we were all bopping and pumping fists and shouting, "this boy's life among the electrical lights!"

from there on out, it was straight up rock and roll. (with, okay, some perplexing canada-themed banter thrown in.) many crucial hits from all three albums (new stuff sounding good guys!), too many to name except that "body says no" has to be one of the greatest rock songs ever, it just has to. no dan bejar, which is okay in my book - but no neko case either, which is a dirty shame. but, carl's niece (right? that's what he said?), catherine, filled in, and - okay, obviously there's no way she could be as incredible a singer as neko, or as hot - but, you know, she did okay, on both counts. she was pretty nervous at first; she seems like she's about my age. so... they played for a long time, but then they were told to stop when they wanted to play more (maybe or maybe not related to some attempted stagediving silliness a bit earlier- got pretty wooly for a prospect park show). anyway. no complaints.

one: yesterday morning, at the met, with rae. great slate of shows at the moment - i wandered through the matisse fabrics exhibit for a while, and i definitely recommend it, especially since most people like matisse more than i do - it may be an obvious angle but with good reason, and it gave me some useful insight into his person; meanwhile, sol lewitt's splotches on the roof are poppy fun with the city as a hazy backdrop - but i was there for ernst. who's always been my favorite surrealist more or less by default (since de chirico doesn't count.) but this was a good reminder of just how great he really is. so many good ideas, and somehow he makes them all work, with a consistent but never overwhelming playfulness and humor, usually absurd but never abstruse, unmeaninged but not meaningless. it's hard to pick favorites - the more famous early proto-surrealist stuff is definitely powerful, but the frottages and printed-reproduction collages may be more unique and affecting on an emotional level. of course, la femme 100 tetes and the other one (which i don't think i'd seen before?) are absolutely hilarious - pretty much everybody in the room was cracking up in front of them. also wonderful: the large-format a moment of calm, which i kind of wanted to look at for hours. unfortunately had to rush through the last few rooms (to get back to phila in time to be late to work and then quit anyway.) sorry but i get to pretend to know something about art sometimes.

(in summation - if you're in new york, go see the ernst. it closes soon.)

so that's what i did in new york. to backtrack a minute to the title of this post... i was actually in philadelphia last week. and while i was there (and not in a.k.a.) i ran into my sister and we went to see layer cake, which has an incredibly shot and sound-edited scene of a guy getting beat up - really, it's worth seeing just for that, plus it's fun anyway - and then after a little while we went to see wilco, on a whim, on the landing in the summer. (i'm pretty sure jeff tweedy overenunciated that line in case we didn't get it, oddball. but he didn't tell us to "punch the hey." i did it anyway.) anyway, that was (you guessed it) a very good time as well. in that summery americana way that i always go on about. getting in for $15 under the face ticket price is pretty good. the sunset behind the stage was lovely. they played almost everything from that weird last album, and, as alex pointed out, only the boring songs from summerteeth (but "i'm always in love" was in my head all the next day") but that was okay. "kingpin" was pretty ripping, and that's a song i always forget about. two encores. whatever. skyscrapers are scraping together. i love music.

if you were a tree,
i could put my arms around you and you could not complain
if you were a tree
i could carve my name into your side and you would not cry,
cuz trees don't cry