Friday, March 30, 2007

let's go outside/the world's greatest salad.

Whatever it is that makes my hands and wrists hurt when I type too much has been doing that lately. I've seen these movies, all excellent:
Born Yesterday
Billy Liar
The Big Clock

One of my all time favorite movies:
The Earrings of Madame de...

and a sort of crap movie, which was massively inspirational nonetheless:
Unknown Passages: The Dead Moon Story

Since I cannot decamp to the Yukon, build my own town, or subsist on $2000 a year while churning out primal rock and roll like Fred and Toody, I've just been trying to ride my bike and listen to the Wipers and stay off the internet as much as humanly possible. Hence the lack of Substantive Blogging. Perhaps once I finish all my skewl-type things for the semester I will devote a larger share of my waning hand-strength to ranting about Robert Altman on the internet, but for now, smell you later, amigos. I might post some what-I've-seen lists just to keep a record.
Before I embark on a blog hiatus, though, let me leave you with The World's Greatest Salad. I pretty much get out of bed every day so I can eat this for lunch.

1. Chop up some tomato and cucumber; tear up some spinach, or if you prefer, romaine lettuce. Dump in a bowl with some chickpeas (rinsed).
2. Optional: chop up a little bit of onion and/or parsley and/or shred a carrot. Dump in bowl.
3. Lightly toast a sliver of pita, tear this up, dump.
Toss, let the pita get a little soggy.
Then squirt on a decent amount of lemon juice, drizzle a little olive oil if you're like that, and sprinkle on some sumac powder (available fr. local middle eastern food purveyor) and black pepper. Toss, annihilate.
Olives (esp. the wrinkly oily ones) or capers might also be a nice addition but I keep forgetting to put them in.

FYI, this is a butchery of something called "fattouch" people like to eat in Lebanon.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

drinking black coffee

Forthcoming: reviews of three movies about reading: Zodiac, Born Yesterday, and Billy Liar. Right now, though, I will list my five favorite cups of bougie coffee in New York City. Bear in mind that despite a few years of being a "barista" at a Border's Books I don't really know anything about what makes coffee delicious. This isn't about espresso crema or latte art or whatevs--just straight up medium coffee avec soy milk--nor is it about ambiance, which is entirely another matter.
1. City Bakery (I dunno why I like this stuff so much, but I used to get back to work late from my lunch break every day so I could wait in the painfully long lunchtime line at C.B. for a delectable cup of their coffee. Also: they have very well designed paper cups, and a next-level, astronomically priced salad bar.)
2. Gorilla
3. Joe
4. Mud (note: the best cup of Mud coffee I've had came neither from the truck nor the 'spot, but from this yuppie fried chicken place [fuck this city] near my school, where they insisted on brewing a fresh pot of coffee for me and cajoling me to wait until the pot was brewed, although I was already late for class. I was rewarded with one of the best cups of coffee I have ever consumed--and black, at that).
5. 'snice

Most disappointing cup of coffee: Porto Rico, which despite selling delish beans serves up a weak, watery, off-tasting brew.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I and I Survive

(warning to my gentle readers: this may get a little livejournaly. but don't worry, once I get back into the swing of things I'll start going to the movies again.)
Before my plane landed at LaGuardia yesterday, it flew low over Manhattan. I pointed out Madison Square Garden and Central Park and my job and my building to the boxer sitting next to me whose main concerns were ascertaining the location of "downtown" and gauging the drinkability of NYC water. The city looked sort of pallid, all snowy and grey, but it was kind of a nice way to come home; I don't feel elated to be back amid responsibilities and atrocious messiness from my longest trip away from the East Coast in a decade, but seeing everything laid out below me reminded me ok, here's what I know, here's home. I realize 7 days (supposed to be 5, but thanks snowstorm+American Airlines!) isn't very long, but it sufficed to slightly denaturalize things: I was surprised at the musty books/peach hand-lotion smell of my room, forgot the E doesn't stop at 59th St., etc. This indicates, I think, how off-kilter I find my everyday routine.

Besides the annoyingness of San Francisco public transportation and a definite excess of crusters and hippies, I like that city ok. The weather ruled while we were there, so I got to walk around to many different neighborhoods and to the ocean; I ate an unimaginable quantity of delicious food, saw a killer photo exhibit at SFMOMA, met some good kids and hung out with some old friends, heard some massive West Coast slang as well as by far the greatest response possible to the question "what is your favorite food?" (given by "Gnars'" roommate Chris, who deserves a rare power-pop record for putting up with Ben and me for 7 consecutive days: "something like a burrito, or a breakfast scramble, in which everything is evenly distributed so you taste all the flavors in every bite"), flipped through about 10,000 records, and was reminded of an important life fact:
The world's #1 activity, which may be even better than watching movies, is listening to records with friends, preferably while imbibing cheap sake (an innovation!) or coffee. HEAVEN.
As a side benefit of staying in a record library, I got to hear a heap of great jams of varying attainability (please Fred and Toody, pretty please reissue The Rats In a Desperate Red lp and someone find me a boot of the Middle Class ep, so fucking great, and any number of other Spanish and Italian and Finnish eps Ben and GN dragged out for me--but then guess what, the new Black Lips ep--what's up New York Timescore--and the raging new Totalitar lp which was waiting for me when I got home, and, shit, the Descendents first record which if I ever listened to it before, did that in 1998 and had no memory of, also kill). Since every winter I end up listening to the same things over and over and over to stave off the darkness (see below), getting re-excited about non-bummer records proves that I'm ready to pull myself out of the shit and into the springtime. I'm cleaning my room.
ps.-one love to #1 bro Parker, who even after days of little squabbles and mopes and inability to get back to the proper coast rallied (around Jah throne) to discuss Abyssinian spearsmen and pull out a stack of Misfits boots and sketchy jams for our enjoyment. And to G., A+ hostess and pal, who'll be picnicking in the park out here sooner than you know.
pps. this is what I've played no fewer than 6 times today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

if i lived in san francisco

i would be fat and broke from eating delicious food and buying records all the time. i would probably have nice calves from walking up all these mountains, though.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

2 things u should do

1. See Vengeance Is Mine

I think it's done playing at BAM now? But the good snobs @ Criterion Collection will release a premium DVD within the next month or so. Prior to its jolting end Vengeance Is Mine takes a matter-of-fact, journalistic (I mean old, elegant journalism, right) approach to its charismatic subject, Enokizu, a con-man, lady-killer, and ultimately, serial killer. Hilarious at times, moving at other, and occasionally almost unbearably intense, the movie never plummets into gratuitousness: its violence and sex offer no thrills, and it seldom--if ever--psychologizes its characters. There's little to summarize: he cheats, kills, fucks, and gets caught (in the movie's opening scene; the film plays with frame stories and chronology purposefully). Let me just say, though, that the old-lady character in this movie is my new hero.

2. Eat at Souen

Ok, I eat a lot, but I rarely exclaim "whoa!" after tasting a food, which I did upon digging into a plate of the special crispy tofu w/veg in ginger-miso sauce at Souen. Unlike other restaurants I frequent this place is macrobiotic, meaning 1-they have fish but no, uh, potatoes or eggplant and 2-if you didn't eat too much of it, I think it might be legitimately Good For You; even my tofu was grilled not fried. The enormous bowl of noodle soup my dinner companion (thanks mom!) got also tasted delish.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Forevs, or, ignorance in consumption

At work tonight, one of the girls was jazzed post-shopping and I said, where'd you go, and she said, oh to Victoria's Secret and Forever 21. And before you could say "prison labor," I blurted out "OHGOD I LOVE FOREVER 21." Now you know.

What the girl I work with said: "They have so many clothes. . . I mean, I've been to the giant Macy's, and I don't think that has so many clothes." I can't verify the truth or falsehood of this statement but my goodness, Forever 21 has an intimidating amount of clothes, organized--I think--mainly by color, although sort of by style and sort of by purpose (different nooks for ugly satiny flower-patterned things that Facebook tells me are knockoffs of what my high school classmates wear for goin' out; a million variations of cheap b&w working clothes; the perpetual Marc Jacobs (I think) plagiarizations for little weekend jaunts, etc.). Bizarrely, it carries almost an incalculable number of different styles, so if you want a brown shirt and you find the primary place of residence for brown shirts, you'll pull out one in a v-neck, one with a button, one with a boatneck, but never 2 the same, and certainly not the one you like best in your size. As their website says, "did you know [they] get new stuff every day???"

Unlike, say, a Uniqlo, with its pretense of class thanks to towering pristine stacks of sweaters, unlike a department store with carpeting, tiers and hierarchies, unlike a genuine bargain-bin-type store, Forever 21 does not intimidate. Everyone is there for the same reason: they want cute things and they want them cheap, so cheap that the fact that these things will probably chafe and shrink horribly in the wash is immaterial. Forever 21 does not care about your walk of life--as implied earlier, probably any woman could walk in to one of their stores in a bind, and come out with at the very least a plain tshirt that has cost her $4.80. I like the Union Square store, where I often used to spend an odd 40 minutes between my old job and class.

Lately, I've been reading blogs by people in other cities to ascertain if anywhere else is vaguely liveable (doubtful), and this one L.A. artsy-type lady uses Forever 21 as an even more derogatory adjective than how I use Urban Outfitters like "even though she was head-to-toe Forever 21, this girl was cute." Forever 21 differs from the Urb in a couple ways though: one, no pretense of "cool," really--the Urb is overpriced to give a vague illusion of elitism, and it has an attitude. It wants you to need what it'll give you. Also, there is more cohesion in what it tries to sell you each season; thus it's clear when someone's Urb-ed out, whereas someone in cheap tightass bootleg black dress pants and someone in jeans a tshirt and hoodie, and someone in some plasticky (f)au(x)-courant type apparel are equally Forevs Girls. I'm saying: this is democracy, made in China with a good chance of melting in the dryer. As their slogan declares: "fashion for all."

Forever 21 just wants you to be 21 forever, with age-appropriate fickleness and vicissitudes and undeniably poor decisions made possible and often unavoidable. At no other store have I ever understood that my resolute decision to buy a top I don't need results entirely from the persuasiveness of the establishment's soundtrack (I sort of feel like Lily Allen owes me three $15.80 tops, but then, I sort of thank Lily Allen for being there on that day at that time, for enabling these three $15.80 tops to take up residence, tags on, in my bureau drawer. FYI, "do you know [their] return policy?" You would if you'd ever shopped there, cos they ask you and tell you every time you pay. Store credit only. You are bound to them forever.)

I don't know anything about fashion; I know that never in my life will I buy underwear from that terrifying giant chest of drawers they have near the checkout. Sometimes, I worry that if by some odd chance I have a daughter, I will not be able to pass on well-made cashmere sweaters and pricey shoes as my gran and mom have endowed to me, just a heap of raggedy discount chain retailer shit. Sorry in advance, little Angel-Eyes, but if you could have half of a decent pair of pants OR a striped tunic in every color of your video display, which would you choose? Presumably--like everyone I know, undoutedly--the moral and aesthetic high ground that would lead you far, far away from the inviting all-glass facade of Forevs. Not me.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

what's good?

It turns out that when she wrote "great job!" and "develop further" in red pencil on my paper to which she awarded an ignominious grade, my cataloging professor actually meant that I need significant help learning how to write and structure an essay. So before I embark on a rewrite of this painfully flawed 4-page exploration of how to catalog your books on some books/social networking website, not my idea, let's think about things that are great.
-ginger tea
-the first pair of boots i have had in years that actually keep my feet dry and warm.
-wow, NOT this phil ochs album i found in the basement
-seeing Ana AND Hannah tomorrow
-Fucked Up playing Saturday
-my brother's pictures of Olmu and Valparaiso
-Arrested Development Season 1
-going to San Francisco in a week and a half
-the homey little sort-of-expensive Greek deli/bar/restaurant that Cory likes near Columbus Circle
-a tape Lyle made me for my birthday a couple years ago that I like a lot and inadvertently left off my top mixtapes list; I like it particularly because of its near-disturbing breadth and scope--like, he taped what he liked at the time and what he thought I'd like, so there are Blind Faith songs and Woody Guthrie songs and ska and mid-'70s Chilean protest music and it works. Few are this daring.
-not usually a music blogs fan but this rules
-Art Garfunkel's website, a bizarrely fascinating and needlessly detailed thing. You learn: Art Garfunkel has walked across America. Art Garfunkel has read many books. His taste in music sucks but my God, he or whoever runs this site is a compulsive record-keeper.
-Shohei Imamura and Graham Greene series at BAMcinematek
-Alternatives to copyright
-finally, this video as seen on Ben's myspace, about which all I have to say is that I once had a dream (prior to watching this, and also before I found out even l-skewl papers need beginnings, middles, and ends) about Glenn hiring me to be his personal librarian, and also that I presently have "The Occult Roots of Naziism" on hold for me at the nypl. Make of that what you will.