The article Klosterman wrote was on Merrill Garbus of tUnE-YarDs, whose album w h o k i l l had just won top spot in the Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop poll. It's based on a sneaky bit of intellectual trickery, the likes of which his entire career has been built on, where he claims his point isn't to critique the piece of art itself, but the public's relationship to it, but then actually just goes ahead and offers a boneheaded critique anyway. “I'm not really in a position to argue for (or against) the merits of tUnE-yArDs,” he says, before listing the things he does "know" about her: that she used to make puppets and that she's "somewhat androgynous." "I get the sense that asexuality is part of her hippie aesthetic," he reasons, "because I just looked at the tUnE-yArDs Wikipedia page and noticed that the wiki writer put a lot of effort into never using gender-specific pronouns.” What he means, of course, is, "I don't find her that pretty, and she doesn't fit into my idea of what a woman should look like." Ugh. But even more patently off-base and infuriating than all his other these tossed-off statements is his assertion that Garbus' lyrics are "superficially indecipherable."
Since auction house Sotheby's locked its unionized art handlers out of their Upper East Side headquarters last August—a dispute which has only worsened since then—everyone's being hyper-vigilant about the plight of New York's small but essential community of art handlers. But before they start training for the 2012 Art Handling Olympics (yes, they're happening), the Whitney Museum's ten full-time, unionized art handlers need to finish renegotiating their contract—the current one expires on January 31st.
With the arrival of thousands of new residents in the condos on the west side of Kent Avenue, crossing that heavily used industrial (and bicycle) thoroughfare has become a lot like a game of Frogger. New pedestrian islands are in the works, but the closest traffic lights are seven blocks to the north and ten blocks to the south, making this a popular stretch for speeding. That's all about to come to a grinding halt.
This time, I'm spotlighting new music from three local acts, who will have to wait a second. It'd be disrespectful not to start with a returning old favorite...
Saint Etienne - "Tonight"
There have been plenty of chances for listeners to get acquainted with 90s cult-pop sweethearts Saint Etienne over the past few years, new reissues of their back catalog coming at a regular clip (Foxbase Alpha, So Tough, and Tiger Bay are all pretty great if you are playing Spotify catch-up). But there hasn't been any new material since 2005's well-regarded Tales From Turnpike House. Until yesterday that is, when this featherlight new single blew in the window, landed softly. Saint Etienne have always been an indie pop band, with emphasis on the sonics of the latter rather than the former. So it's no surprise that "Tonight" kind of sounds like a Kylie Minogue single (her producer Tim Powell was involved, even). A great Kylie Minogue single. We thought Sarah Cracknell sounded glamorous and wise in 1994...
You can check out most of the playlist on Spotify if you're a member, but for the entire thing — including tracks from Sixto Rodriguez, Kimbra and Thundercat — listen below.
Last week’s release of an album from spielgusher, the long-in-the-works collaboration between rock critic/novelist Richard Meltzer and punk icon Mike Watt, got us thinking about other writers who have crossed over into the realm of lyricists. The names that follow make a varied list, and that isn’t even touching the way certain lines have blurred, whether it’s Jay-Z drawing acclaim for his collected lyrics, Gerard Way writing a surreal take on superheroes, or the likes of Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, and Gil Scott-Heron being acclaimed writers before they made their mark on music. (One could also write about musicians whose lyrics take their cues from works of fiction, from the myriad artists (Earth, Lucero’s Ben Nichols) looking towards Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian to Mos Def’s citation of Victor LaValle’s The Ecstatic as an influence on his album of the same name, but that's a list for another day.)
Last month, shortly after a report published by city Councilman Brad Lander found that the B61 bus route, the only one serving transit-poor Brooklyn neighborhoods like Red Hook and the Columbia Waterfront District, was one of the most over-crowded and chronically late in the city, the MTA sought to fix the problem by adding more bus shelters to make those long waits less tiresome. Locals were not impressed (said one, "Shelters make it a little better—but it doesn’t address the real problem"), and now the MTA has decided to address that real problem by adding buses to the route.
Dear Friends of The L Magazine,
We're pretty proud of our new gadget, and we hope you take it out for a spin. You should, because it's free.
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If you've ever wandered through the section of McCarren Park between Driggs and Bedford avenues within a week of heavy rainfall, you've probably found yourself wishing you'd brought some boots, a bathing suit, and perhaps a small sailboat. That part of the park, where two concrete paths meet beside Gilroy Field, has notoriously poor drainage, habitually turning into a shallow lake and then a muddy swamp. But the city is finally going to unclog the drain, to the tune of nearly $1 million.
It's no surprise that the old guard of protest songwriting would come out in support of the album—after all, contributors David Crosby and Graham Nash had already performed for protesters last year, as did Jackson Browne and Arlo Guthrie. Willie Nelson and his wife even wrote a poem for the protesters. But to see the full range of artists, from venerable, veteran anti-war crowd to the folks who have recently picked up the protest torch, lends a whole new kind of credence to a movement many have tried to shrug off and dismiss.
"The epidemiology is perplexing," he says. "The assumption, when we noticed the trend eight or nine years ago, was that this was a sexually transmitted disease due to more oral sex," he says. "But at least at Georgetown, we have patients in their 80s with this kind of cancer," he notes. "That raises questions about the sexual habits of Americans who are older, or about HPV."
It's cute that they think a jump in cancer rates in older people is evidence against HPV causing these mouth and throat cancers. Oral wasn't invented in the 1990s, you guys. Don't be mad that your Nana may be giving excellent head. We're all humans, after all.
ISSUE Project Room, which was established in 2003 on the Lower East Side by artist Suzanne Fiol, who passed away from cancer in 2009, at age 49, won a 20-year rent-free lease at Livingston Street. The 1926 Beaux Arts-style building was designed by McKim, Mead, and White, and formerly housed the New York City Board of Education. Described by Fiol as a “Carnegie Hall for the avant-garde,” the space’s jewel box theater, once fully renovated, will be truly one of a kind. Speaking by phone last week, ISSUE Executive Director Ed Patuto shared: “There is no other European-style music chamber hall in all of New York. We don’t know of any others in the country, though we assume there have to be some others. And so the sound in there is really remarkable; it’s incredibly rich.” When work is complete, the theater will be the only space in New York with the ability to display 360° visuals and multi-channel sound.
The L: Where in Brooklyn do you live, how long have you been here, and where are you from originally?
Miranda Brown: I just moved to Kensington from Bed-Stuy a couple of months ago. It's a much safer, quieter scene down here. I moved to brooklyn in October '10 from Austin, TX, where I'd spent the previous seven years, but I'm originally from Greenfield, MA.
The L: Can you tell us about your career as a musician?
Brown: I've been singing forever, but I didn't really start playing instruments until I was in my early 20s. I've worked as a touring musician for the last five years, singing back-up and playing bass, rhythm guitar, percussion, and/or keyboards for the New Pornographers, Crooked Fingers, A.C. Newman, Sarah Jaffe. I've also sung harmonies on a ton of records, most recently on the upcoming "Arrow" by the Heartless Bastards.
Two years ago some of the green-thumbed folks from Bushwick pizzeria Roberta's launched a project called Brooklyn Grange, whose very first rooftop farm is actually in Queens and whose CSA is very affordable—the joke being that something so New Brooklyn-y, with Brooklyn in its name, could only find affordable rooftop real estate in Queens. Well, yesterday Brooklyn Grange announced on its Facebook page that they've just signed a lease for their second rooftop farm, this one at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
In the last three years we've seen the rise of a very strange and conspicuous trend in mainstream rap: choruses that consist of little more than the brazen and insistent repetition of one or two words. First there was LMFAO's "Shots"—which, tellingly, featured one of the form's early adopters, Lil Jon—last year Big Sean scored a huge hit with "Dance (A$$)," and most recently the woman who showed up on that song's remix, Nicki Minaj, tried her hand at it with her latest feat of vocal gymnastics, "Stupid Hoe." There's no telling who'll do it next, but here's how all this might have started...
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