Friday, January 29, 2010

The Knitting Factory

If this place had anything to do with actual knitting, my ears wouldn't be ringing this morning with the echoes of indie rock. Just another evening in the glamorous life of a Village Voice Street Teamster.

I love live music. My Daddio is a blues musician and I've been hanging out in bars and helping him unload equipment since I was twelve. The smell of spilled beer and cigarette smoke in a dank, dimly lit bar makes me go warm and fuzzy inside. And the Knitting Factory, in Williamsburg, about fits this description, even though to smell the cigarettes, you have to get right up to the bricks and sniff deep, because nobody smokes inside anymore. I guess the Knitting Factory is some kind of New York music scene institution. They've got old music posters with David Bowie and the Ramones posted in the vestibule, so that's got to mean something. Whenever I stumble into some "famous" place like this in the city, I feel like I'm running into someone I've met so often that I should remember their name, but can't, so I fake recognition. "Oh, hi, it's so good to see you, how have you been?"So yes, the Knitting Factory, of course, how cool, I haven't seen their new location, who's playing tonight?

Their website said the first band went on at 8, so I get there at about 7:30 and hang around with my silly putty and my clipboard and my Preachers That Lie shirt (thanks, Dean!). When the music starts, I go into the performance space and see that there's only three people in the audience. A band playing to an empty to is about the saddest thing in the world, right next to an empty restaurant and a wet, shivering kitten. I feel a pang of angst for them. It's like throwing a party and none of your guests show up! So when they finish their song, I clap and wooo! to show them that someone was listening, dammit! And everyone swivels around and stares at me. "We could use less bass," the guitarist calls out.

That's when I realize that they weren't performing. They were doing a sound check.

I felt like such an idiot.

But if there's one thing I've learned in all my years as a roadie--and apparently being able to tell the difference between a set and a sound check isn't one of those things--it's that the show must go on. Rather than slink out of the bar and scurry weeping into the night, I stick out my chest, break out my best PR smile and my silly putty, thrust my clipboard out and sign the band up for free email updates from the Village Voice. They were very into it. It's probably pretty rare for them to get applause just for practicing.

That's just how I roll.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Twenty Nerd Commandments

"I bring you fifteen--" *crash* "--oy. Ten! Ten Commandments!" From Mel Brooks History of the World Part I. One of my favorite movies.

Gosh, I do love the Internet. Before, us nerds were lost as babes in the wilderness, alone in our obsessions. And after, we were a force--insert Star Wars reference here--no longer lone freaks, but communities of freaks, entertaining the world with Lolcats and badly-dubbed anime. Now, our society has reached nerd saturation point.

We rule. Literally.

Since we rule, we need rules. Commandments, if you will. Topless Robot just published this list, gleaned from their comments section, of the Twenty Nerd Commandments. It's all kinds of awesome. Here's a taste.

1) Thou must experience as many nerdy properties as possible throughout your youth (nerdy parents must assist with this). By the age of 20, you must have chosen at least two sides of the following: Star Wars or Star Trek, Kirk or Picard, Marvel or DC, Mac or PC, Trukk or Munkey, Baker or Tennant, and Joel or Mike. If these topics come up, you must argue your choice past all reasonableness.

10) If two nerds ever find themselves holding cylindrical objects of at least 9 inches in length they must immediately make lightsaber ignition noises and face each other down in mortal combat.

Thy first crush must be upon an cartoon character.

17) Thou shalt be required to attend at least one nerd convention (videogames, anime, comics, etc.) during thy lifetime.

The rest are just as good, but I put these up because upon reading them, I blushed and giggled because I follow all of them. I know my sides in the Great Debates (Star Wars, Picard, Marvel, PC), my first crush was on Donatello from TMNT, and you can see my pictures from the New York Anime Festival here. Fun family memories: me and Daddio watching Star Trek: Next Generation and X-Files together. My big sister saw "Return of the Jedi" in theaters. She was only a baby, but Daddio brought her anyway because it was Star Wars, dammit!

But all this leads me to wonder, just academically, considering how many of these commandments have to do with pop culture phenomena of the last twenty or thirty years, how long can the community endure? I'm already falling behind with the kids these days, because I haven't seen the new Battlestar Gallactica, I don't watch Lost or Fringe, and what the hell is up with Prince of Tennis? Nerd camaraderie is build on our shared cultural experiences. Can we all still be nerds together when that changes? Some of these kids have always lived in a world with six Star Wars movies. They've never played D&D. Neither have I, but I would never play World of Warcraft, either. Where does that leave me, them, and us?

Your thoughts?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Urban Foraging: Lord of the Flies edition

Wow, if the title of this post was literal, that would suck on so many levels. I'm the one with glasses. It wouldn't end well for me.

It's amazing to me what people throw out in Cobble Hill. I can understand ditching a couple of books on the sidewalk, and if your furniture gets broken beyond your ability to MacGyver it together, there are plenty of other MacGyver-esque people out there who deserve a shot at glory. But this?

How awesome is my new conch shell? Seriously, who gets rid of this? It takes up less room than a space heater and if there's a better object with which to defend yourself in close-range, limited arsenal combat, that object is probably illegal in every state except Arkansas.

I found this on my way to the laundromat today, sitting on a stoop next to the third Harry Potter book, so my only explanation for my incredible urban foraging luck is that the wizards gave it to me. I can't decide whether I should put it out on my fire escape or sleep with it in my bed. That would actually be really uncomfortable and likely make my teddy bear super jealous, but that's how much I love this conch shell.

The spirits of the sidewalk have seen fit to bless me with gifts beyond measure, and yeah, the writer looked out from her studio-plus-alcove and saw that it was good.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Box 'o Ramen

I ate a lot of Top Ramen growing up. And I mean a LOT of ramen, we're talking so much ramen that by the time I hit college, the prime ramen years, I made Stovetop Stuffing in my dorm room with purloined butter and hot water rather than eat another packet of freaking ramen--on a plate with the spice packet sprinkled on top, floating in a bowl of its own broth, uncooked and crunched up with the spices sprinkled on it, fried in butter with chives, cold and tossed with SPAM and eggs--see, you think I'm exaggerating the amount of ramen I've eaten in my lifetime, but I've probably forgotten more ramen recipes that you've ever even heard of.

So it may seem strange that I'm promoting this website, "Savor the Choice," they urge. While for reasons previously discussed, I'm not going to take them up on their "savor" suggestion. However, I do really like choice. I am a radical feminist, after all. And for $20, you can pick and choose 20 different kinds of Japanese ramen (important distinction, not all ramen is authentically Nippon) and they'll send it anywhere you want. You can get ramen delivered to your door! Or to the bottom of your driveway if you live in Hawaii. Me, I live in New York. That ramen would be in my vestible by next week if I were so inclined.

Also, since the sweet geeks at Topless Robot plugged Ramenbox on their site, you can get $10 off your next purchase by entering "toplessrobot" in the coupon code. We look out for each other in the otaku community.

Shoots, for $10, I may need in on this hot ramen action. I can always donate the it to City Harvest.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ninja Quest: My (knockoff) Hello Kitty lunch box

You'd have to be a real bastard to steal Hello Kitty. This is the operating principle behind my superfantastic Hello Kitty lunch box that I take to work with me every day in my superfantastic OliOli Trolley purse, which I got from my sister, who won it as a door prize when she worked for the largest Japanese travel company in Hawaii. It's a double helping of awesome Japanica, swinging by my side on the subway every morning, mocking my coworkers with its maybe-she-is-maybe-she-isn't-being-ironic sweetness.

There's just something about that white, beady-eyed little kitten, with her gargantuan head and absolutely no mouth (she must absorb nutrients from the air), that compels a person to behave. Look at her. Look at that quizzically cocked head, those tiny toeless feet, that eery, blank stare--she'd make a great propaganda poster for a totalitarian society ruled by preteen girls. Sure, you could steal my lunchbox, and secret policemen with pink boots and glittery berets could come to your house in the middle of the night and bludgeon you with faux-fur covered billy clubs. Enemies of the state abound in Sanrioria.

But here's the punchline: this isn't actually a Hello Kitty lunchbox. That's right, look closely. "Charmmy Kitty." It's a knock-off! Laypeople don't know the difference, and if some bastard actually does swipe it from my desk one chill winter's morn, well, I can get another for ten bucks at Pearl River.

I'm a lunchbox ninja.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What's bunching my panties today?

No, it's not the weather, although damn you, winter, with your static electricity and your frozen globs of spit on the subway platform.

It's definitely not my new dancing shishimai robot from Kinokuniya Books. He's just awesome. He sways and taps his little feet to recorded taiko and fue music. Daah, da-da-da, deedledee...

Where was I?

Right, my panties are bunched because I've been following the Prop 8 trial, Perry v. Schwarzeneggar, in the California Supreme Court for the last three days. The court is trying to decide whether or not the ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional. Very exciting stuff. It's only THE civil rights trial of my generation--we're talking Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education big--and while I could give two toodles of my shishimai robot about the executive and legislative branch of this country, I happen to care a great deal about the decisions of the judicial branch.

I won't go into details. This isn't a political blog, not like our friend Risking Hemlock's site, but he's in Israel right now and probably doesn't have time or opportunity to comment on PvS. Also, the US Supreme Court isn't allowing the trial to be televised or streamed online (though originally the whole three-week long proceedings were going to be on YouTube), so there might not be a lot of coverage on the news. I follow a live blog (you can, too, in the link above) written by spectators in the overflow room of the courthouse--imperfect and unedited, but better than nothing, and it gives me another opportunity to think about the impact of the Internet and social networking tools on journalism. I'm now addicted to the refresh icon on my browser and I get antsy if nothing new gets posted every ten minutes. Hence the bunching.

On a totally unrelated note, I've added a new link to "Sites I like that you might like." Heartless Doll is the sister-site of Topless Robot (which is the geeky little brother site of the Village Voice). It's more nerdy news and features, but it's written by and about the wahines. Please enjoy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Mushrooms, Car Bumpers, and Aging Punks for 2010

And for your New Year, here is a double helping of everyone's favorite game, "What the hell is that?!" It's more difficult to play now that I live in my own apartment and don't have roommates, but fortunately, this is still New York, and there are many opportunities to wonder at life's great mysteries.

First: a Christmas Eve puzzler. Where did this come from? Why was it dropped here?
And does the wine bottle have anything to do with this situation? Writer for scale.

Second: from under my window. Is this edible? Will it aid my "spirit quest"? Why is it growing inside my apartment? Wine cork for scale.

Finally, here is a wonderful article in Honolulu Weekly, my old employer, written about and by someone who would say something sarcastic if I called him my good friend. Dean Carrico reunited with his old punk band, Preachers That Lie, over the winter season and opened for the Misfits last night at the Pipeline Cafe in Honolulu. Seems like as soon as I move to the coolest city on the planet, all the cool stuff starts happening elsewhere.

Oh, well. Go Dean!

Happy New Year.