Monday, November 30, 2009

How Well Do You Know Your Indie Rock?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 5:09 PM

Because it’s a Monday after a holiday weekend and not a whole lot is going on other than Tiger Woods turning into a shadeball, we thought it’d be fun to pass time with a game, just like they did in the olden days. It’s pretty simple: Match the bands to their correct MySpace tags — those four or five word descriptions that appear next to their picture on their profile page. Check back tomorrow morning for the answers. I know! So fun!

1. Enya with bounce
2. Just me and the boys
3. Let’s get high, baby
4. Teen dream
5. B-)
6. Condoleezza Rice, secretary of weed
7. New band-new day. Watch out.
8. White people
9. No 8
10. The enemy is everywhere
11. Teenage reverb garage t-shirt

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In Defense, Sorta, of the Adorable Puppy Dog at the End of The Road

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Critical consensus—by which I mean the L's Benjamin Strong and the Times's A.O. Scott agreeing on anything, and also not incidentally being entirely correct—seems to be that John Hillcoat's film of Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a faithful translation of what is after all a sequential, functional narrative; an acceptably, even creatively bleak visualization of McCarthy's postapocalyptic landscape; and marred mostly by bet-hedging tinkly piano and excessive flashbacks to The World Before (played by Charlize Theron), like thanks but inasmuch I do have some prior familiarity with human civilization this illustration thereof is fairly unnecessary.

In the Voice, the Hobereview of the film breaks down the literalness and the compromises quite well, though his take is slightly more bemused, as evidenced by his ironic-caps references to The Man, The Boy, The Redneck Slaughterhouse of Terror, and Hillcoat's one significant revision of the manuscript: favorite addition to the novel is the close-up of The Post-Apocalyptic Puppy of Hope that appears in the movie's final scene. It's a last-minute Christmas card reminiscent of the voiceover that opens Sam Fuller's Vietnam-set China Gate: "In this ravaged city where people are starving, all the dogs have been eaten except one."

Well, yes, on the one hand The Post-Apocalyptic Puppy of Hope is up there with last year's "Fucking Arty Blood Splotch." But on the other hand...

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Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell to Star in Broadway Premiere of New Martin McDonagh Play

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 3:40 PM

Christopher WAlken
In what may be the most star-studded of the many shows bringing big names to Broadway stages in 2010, the premiere of Martin McDonagh's (he, most famously, of The Pillowman) latest, A Behanding in Spokane, will star Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell and Zoe Kazan (Elia's granddaughter) and be directed by John Crowley, the film and theater director behind the current Bond-Wolverine sell-out machine A Steady Rain. According to the L.A. Times, the show is slated to open at the Schoenfeld Theater on March 4, 2010.

Behanding, McDonagh's first play set in the U.S., will also be his first Broadway premiere. The plot, which involves a man (Walken) searching for his missing hand, should be enough to lure huge audiences. And given that Walken's last Broadway appearance in James Joyce's The Dead back in 2000 earned him a Tony nomination, this production already has the makings of a critical and financial success.
(image: John W. Codling)

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VIDEO: New Gallery K & K Opens in Williamsburg

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Whenever a new gallery opens in New York an angel says something pretentious about art. The fellas at new Williamsburg photography gallery, K & K, however, seem nice and unpretentious, so we sent videographer Emmanuel Cruz over to have a few words...

Filmed and edited by Emmanuel Cruz.

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Will the High Bridge be New York's Next High Line?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 2:50 PM

High Bridge
The High Bridge is New York City's oldest bridge, it was built in the 1850s to serve both as a viaduct to supply Manhattan with water and a pedestrian bridge to connect Washington Heights and the High Bridge neighborhood in the Bronx. It's been closed for about 40 years, but according to StreetsBlog a movement to get the old, arched, brick and steel beauty refurbished and reopened is on the brink of success.

In early 2010 community input and design processes will begin to get the bridge up to code and open for pedestrians and cyclists, providing a crucial car-free link between Manhattan and the Bronx. Comparing it to the High Line isn't quite fair, since that park required vast and expensive renovations, and doesn't really facilitate anything (except exhibitionism and voyeurism). Really, it's more like the opening of pedestrian and bike paths on the Manhattan Bridge back in 2001, which created a much-needed alternative to the Brooklyn Bridge (which, by the way, will be partially closed for long stretches next year).

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The Most Important Week Yet in the Presidency of Barack Obama

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 2:23 PM

Barack Obama smoking
Holy crap, don't look now but there could be some real shit going down this week vis a vis the Fairy Tale Fantasy Presidency of the One, the True, the Neo, Barack Obama. Apparently the president gave his orders yesterday regarding Afghanistan, with CBS reporting a likely troop increase of between 30,000-35,000 (to be added to the current number of 68,000). Obviously, this is not the decision we were hoping for. The Prez is going to try to sell the new plan to the American people tomorrow night, speaking live from West Point, cuz, you know, army guys. Merry Christmas families of soldiers!

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In Which Paramount Pits Up in the Air Against the American Moviegoer in an Effort to Convince a Slightly Better Class of American Moviegoer to See It

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 1:53 PM

I laughed at this post, by NY Mag's Vulture coeditor Lane Brown, about what a hard time Paramount is having the marketing Jason Reitman's topically satiric, critically tolerated Up in the Air. So I clicked on through to the LA Times article, by Claudia Eller, from which the hands-thrown-skyward quotes come, expecting to write an easy post about how moviegoers are idiots and producers, studios and marketing people have never actually seen a movie, ever, and thus have no idea what to do with a good one. (Or a flawed but interesting one, as Nicolas Rapold says in the current issue of the L.) In fact, though, Paramount has come up with a genius solution: meta-marketing, in which they talk to a sympathetic reporter for a print outlet about how hard it is to market this thoughtful, zeitgeist-grappling work of art. So follow me, to that strange and distant land after the jump, where together we will ridicule a few choice quotes in an effort to show how Paramount and the unwitting Claudia Eller of the LA Times have conspired to sell us the movie...

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British Group Helps Working-Class Folk Buy Art

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 1:18 PM

Own Art
On Saturday the Telegraph published an exciting article about Own Art, a group set up by the UK's Arts Council that helps middle- to low-income art enthusiasts buy contemporary art on installment plans from over 250 galleries throughout Britain. Since 2004, Own Art has made over 14,500 interest-free loans for works worth up to £2,000 (US$ 3,280) for a total of £11.6 million (US$ 19 million).

The Telegraph interviews a few buyers who've used the program to acquire several artworks, like a human rights lawyer, a car factory worker and, most awesomely, a pig farmer who lives in a trailer. And they're not just buying watercolors of rolling hills. The interviewees' collections include pieces by Peter Blake, David Hockney, Terry Frost, Victor Pasmore and, yes, Damien Hirst. Says David Pike, the pig farmer:

It shows how working men can still be intellectual and capable of deep thought, which I like because although I do manual labour, I’m an intellectual.

So, what are you waiting for, NEA?

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Brooklyn Street Artist Aakash Nihalani Spotted in India

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Aakash Nihalani street art in India
The street artist Aakash Nihalani, an L Mag hero whose colorful, geometric tape installations have become a staple of Brooklyn's streetscapes, has been spotted taping up New Delhi. Street art blog Unurth has the pictures to prove that Nihalani has been busy abroad, introducing his retro-futuristic architectural installations to the streets of the Indian city. More evidence that, no matter what parents and policemen say, there's a future in street art.

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Sweet, Bookstores Are Closing!

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 12:19 PM

On the plus side most of the retail locations can be turned into Macaroni Grill franchises with just minor renovations.
  • On the plus side most of the retail locations can be turned into Macaroni Grill franchises with just minor renovations.
There are of course some things to be said for big-box chain bookstores like Borders. Those things are: 1) They have lots of books to wander through on a family trip to the mall and 2) Many locations so you can ask for a gift certificate for the holidays even if you don't live at home anymore.

That said, it's hard to get too broken up about the failure of Borders UK (and, one assumes, the eventual demise of the floundering Borders US). Large chain stores can't really compete with web retailers for stock or independents for browse-ability. Borders and B&N sucked the life out of local competition, and a bigger fish is returning the favor.

This is a situation somewhat analogous to the decline and fall of Blockbuster, which our own Henry Stewart wrote about earlier this year; then as now, it's a shame young provincials such as my teenage self won't have miles of shelves as turf for self-discovery—but the proudly recalcitrant minority that constitutes book culture—perhaps moreso than cinephilia's tech-savvy viewers who appreciate mainstream commercial cinema in any case—can support the kind of smaller physical stores that were always a better fit for those sorts of excursions anyway (as long as your parents don't mind dropping you in the vicinity).

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French-Canadian Junk Food on the LES

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 11:56 AM

As a Canadian (who went to college in Montreal) I feel particularly qualified to talk about poutine (I've done it before), that wonderful drunk junk-food mix of French fries, cheese curds and gravy, invented by Quebecois wood fairies in the 18th century. (And no, these aren't disco fries, simply grating cheese WILL NOT DO.)

It's been hard to find authentic poutine in New York, and there have been times—sad, drunk times—when I've shamefully allowed disco fries to substitute for the real thing; forgive me oh great Snow Queen of the North. So I was obviously pretty excited when a restaurant called "Tpoutine" opened up on Ludlow Street a few months ago, bringing a little piece of Montreal to the Lower East Side. I was so excited it took me a few months to get myself over there...

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Early Richard Serra Sculpture at Risk from Real Estate Development

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Richard Serra Shift
In Saturday's Globe and Mail, James Adams writes that a very early public sculpture and land art installation by Richard Serra, "Shift" (1970-72, pictured), might not make it to its 40th anniversary. Today councilors in King Township 35 miles north of Toronto, where the sculpture sits in an empty field, will vote on whether the piece should be designated a "cultural landscape" (ie. a place that merits preservation), or the developer who owns the land should be allowed to do as they please—meaning, most likely, a housing development.

The cement sculpture has been at the center of a five-year argument between preservationists and developers over the ideal use of the land. The piece is looking a little worse for wear and is rarely visited because, you know, it's in the middle of nowhere, but also because Hickory Hills Investments, the group that owns the land, does its best to restrict access to the work despite its obvious potential to be a major attraction for the region. So, if for some reason you're near Toronto right now or anytime in the near future, head up towards King City and check out Serra's "Shift" before it's gone.

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Ted Leo Announces Album Title, Releases New Single

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 10:55 AM

It makes a great deal of sense to me that, after all these years as one of the most dependable performers in the entire indie rock universe, Ted Leo has found a new home at Matador Records, which has arguably—or actually, very obviously—been indie rock's most dependable label since launching 20 years ago. Leo's new record, his first for Matador, is called The Brutalist Bricks and will be released on March 9th. The cover is super yellow. And there's a bee on it. The first single, "Even Heroes Have to Die," was released as a free download this morning. Go get it, and just try to tell me you don't want to sing "Pulling mussels from the shell" at the 33 second mark. He, along with his Pharmacists, is playing Bowery Ballroom this Sunday. It's sold out, but there's always Craigslist, I guess.

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Superior Donuts to Stop Serving Broadway in January

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 10:20 AM

Superior Donuts on Broadway
Jeffrey Richards, lead producer of Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts on Broadway, dropped some sad news to ArtsBeat on Thanksgiving, announcing that the production will close on January 3, 2010. Letts' previous play, August: Osage County, ran for over a year and a half, garnering critical acclaim, financial success and numerous awards (including a Pulitzer and a couple arm-fulls of Tonys). So what went wrong with Donuts, which will be closing about three months after it opened?

Well, for one ticket sales haven't been terribly good, peaking around 70 percent of capacity when the show opened and more often hovering around 50 percent. The show's more modest scope and tone of guarded optimism, compared to the epic family breakdown of August, doesn't seem to appeal to quite so broad an audience.

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Rick Moody to Tweet Story, Dale Peck Still a Twat

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 9:44 AM

A thousand monkeys typing
In about 15 minutes, novelist, songwriter and New York Mets fan Rick Moody will offer up the first Tweet of his Twitter-story, "Some Contemporary Characters," which will be followed over the next three days by another 152 Tweets. The whole crazy project is under the aegis of our e-journal crushes over at Electric Literature, and upon further reflection, isn't really all that crazy: Moody's fine story "Boys" is pretty much half Tweet, anyway... so, yeah.

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One More Reason Referendums Suck: The Swiss Vote to Ban Minarets

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 8:58 AM

Swiss minarets
The friendly people of Switzerland are pretty damned scared of Muslims—which is why they've decided to ban the minaret! No more will spiky towers haunt the tender dreams of apple-cheeked milk maidens or cuckoo clock makers, thanks to the Swiss People's Party concern that Switzerland is on the cusp of Islamofication [pictured at right, one of their Fascist-y posters]. This fear is perfectly reasonable and has nothing to do with populist opportunism, particularly when you consider the following numbers:

Muslims make up about 6% of Switzerland's 7.5 million people... Fewer than 13% practice their religion, the government says, and Swiss mosques do not broadcast the call to prayer outside their buildings.

What's 13% of 6% of 7.5 million? A TERRIFYING BURGEONING CALIPHATE IN OUR MIDST, that's what. Fuck you people of Switzerland! But mainly, fuck you plebiscites, referendums and all other forms of direct democracy! Because what the hell is the point of civilization if you can't protect the rights of the minority against the whims of the majority?

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Tiger Woods "Seriously Injured" in Car Accident

Posted By on Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 3:13 PM

Authorities in Florida are reporting that Tiger Woods was seriously injured in a car accident this morning when he hit both a tree and a fire hydrant while pulling out of his driveway. Alcohol doesn't seem to be a factor in the crash. "Seriously injured" seems a bit much for this kind of accident, though I suppose in the context of his profession, it makes sense.

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Richard Linklater Talks to Us About Orson Welles

Posted By on Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles follows the great man's 1937 Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar, in the years when Welles was still busy making his mark in theater and radio, before Citizen Kane. We caught up with Linklater—who had just shot some more of his 12-year Boyhood project the previous weekend—for a couple of questions about the filmmaker to come...

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In Praise of James Agee, Born 100 Years Ago Today

Posted By on Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 10:04 AM

What kind of person writes movie reviews during a world war? James Agee, born November 27 of 1909 in Knoxvile, Tennessee, performed his greatest service to his country during the 1940s, by reviewing films for Time and writing a column on the movies for the Nation. (His film writing is collected in a marvelous Library of America volume.) He didn't invent the profession but he might as well have: his work was instrumental in creating an intelligent popular language for talking about the national art form, and those of us who've taken up the lead in that conversation since owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. No film scholar, he's been called a "natural middlebrow," which is true and only an insult if you think that what the middlebrow mostly is is all that it could ever be.

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Your Thanksgiving Weekend at the Movies, Now with 50% More Cannibalism

Posted By on Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 8:55 AM

It means The Road, you know.
  • It means "The Road," you know.
The Road: Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you like people! Because, spoiler alert, there's not-insubstantial cannibalism in The Road, adapted from Cormac McCarthy's strangely compelling novel. The movie comes to us courtesy of the Weinstein Company, who display admirable near-equity towards their projects in that they treat almost every single one like something they're ashamed of: shuffling release dates, cutting and recutting, and finding counterintuitive ways of actually releasing the damn thing. (Exceptions: movies by Quentin Tarantino or Kevin Smith, and anything with the words "Scary" or "Movie" in the title.) If it's a movie with some kind of mass appeal prime for a one-weekend cash grab, release it in two theaters, or quietly dump it to DVD. If it's an oppressively bleak but faithful adaptation of a beloved book, mismarket it as a thriller, put together a really ugly poster, and release it wide around Thanksgiving.

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