I don't care if he changes his name and comes back wearing a dress with a faked handstamp, there is no re-entry for Mr. Crazy Wind. You saw what happened the first time. Buildings threw themselves at trees, players threw chairs at people, and clowns threw pies at each other. And on the last day of the crazy rains, we had the World Series of Crazy. You know the barometric pressure is no joke if L Boogie is returning Wyclef's calls.
In the middle of Weatherstock, I went to pick up my big one from school. I saw a necklace of police vehicles blocking the street. When I got closer, I saw seven cops in riot vests and fabri-coated shields charging up the steps.
"Guy had a fight with the superintendent's son, came back with a gun."
The target was not the school, but an apartment block across the plaza from school. The riot cops left as quickly as they came. Had they combed the whole 24-story apartment building in two minutes? No, but closure had been achieved. The kids were released from school, gripped by questions ("What policemen? What bad guys?") that lasted only until an impromptu game of Cadge Snacks From Soft Touch Parent And Use Hula Hoop As Command Center broke out. So I broke out as well, off to buy shin guards and actualize my role as Soccer Dad.
Team Birmingham (soon to face Blackburn, Chelsea and Tottenham in a league that wears its multinational origin on its backs) was purple and fast. Boys and girls of every shade looped like an escalator chain to take shots on goal. My curly dragon howled "Bring it on, bring it on!" and high-fived a boy he'd never met before. The quick alliance of sports. None of the storied, aggravated Sports Parents were seen, save for a few over-eager coaches taking level 7 shots on level 1 goalies. The mood was bright and open under a heavy and squeaky grey sky, in the shadow of buildings that no longer exist except in everyone's minds everywhere.
That night, we wondered "Why does everybody feel obligated to play live?" And then, "Why does everybody feel obligated to stay?" Well, they paid, and money is an effective meta blocker. Leaving early gave us a chance to discover that Lombardi's has colonized the block down to the near corner, adopting a TGIF-style Wild West typeface for the awning while holding constant the same great and floury pizza, the pizza we order for every birthday party we throw.
Later in the week, the ram's horn blew and somebody somewhere was blown all to fuck. We wombled home to end the day with a small version of the hunt: "Chase the handsome dog!"
An attempt to go out and be alone, together, produced this phone call:
“I’ll go searching out in the dark of New York City if that’s what I have to do to find you.”
“I’ll tell you this: do you know how un-used to my loft bed I am?”
“I don’t want to be mean and say I don’t like my bed? But I think I have to be older than 7 to have a loft bed. I think I have to be 10 or 18 to have a loft bed. I know I’m really good at sports and that makes me seem like I’m really old, and sometimes people just forget that I’m just a kid.”
“What are bullets made of, fire?”
“So it can go through out skin, or our hearts, because they’re squishy? But not a door? Why didn’t you tell me that? I feel so much better! Because pretty much all a robber wants is food, or a home. So we could get a new home, because you have a job. And we could teach my friends that trick. I really like that conversation, do you know why? Because it will help me go to sleep.”
“Now can I say night night to daddy? Because the big idea was daddy but I ended up speaking to you.”
[Phone handed to little brother.]
“Who is this? Speak up!”
It is not surprising that a New York City buildings inspector is responsible for the newest in bait-and-switch slang. I expect to see widespread usage of "Spanish Popeye" soon:
"Omigod, I just got the new Judy Blume and it's totally Spanish Popeye! Only one sex scene and then all this identity stuff. Snooze!"
"Son, the new LL Cool J is on some Spanish Popeye bullshit. Two bangers and then a bunch of lip-lickers. Hammer time!"
"Sergeant, I came here with a plan. I was inspired by the ideals contained in the movies and plays your government has been presenting in my country as an act of cultural diplomacy for the last five years. I wanted to work 23 hour days for a couple of years, bring my family over from our homeland—where we have no civil rights—and then buy a house, maybe even join the PTA. Instead, I've been held in Guantanamo Bay for the last nine months because I had a prayer mat in my luggage. My family has no idea where I am, or if I'm even alive. Your country is Spanish Popeye!"
Now available in both print and online formats: "Four Singles," featuring Destiny's Child, Kanye West, Usher, Alicia Keys and Gretchen Wilson. Available only online: "Red-Hot Pop," a Q&A about pop with Ben Greenman.
People tell me that tickets for this event go fast. I don't know if this is true. Now I've told you about it and we can move on.
Though not a stepper, I stepped out last night with J Shep, who can step, I bet. (And she likes that Alchemist and Nas song “Tick Tock,” which is almost a steppers tune.) Our first stop was Franz Ferdinand at Roseland. The Strokerspol axis has never made me especially mad or happy or prone to think much of anything. Their bandness does not excite or depress me and I see nothing in their future that is not also in the future of the many acts who give us a few hot songs, as both bands have. Now having seen FF, a band dipping into the same 80s file cabinet, I can see that the Julian Banks dedication to frigidity is the sandbar between me and either excitement or depression. The Franz boys are unchilly. They are happy to be a dance band, even though they’re not particularly good at it. Further, they seem happy to be any kind of band at all, and this makes me like them.
The woman dancing in front of me was even better than the band. She was all like "My long black hair will whip around and I will smell like bubblegum and smile at you intermittently as if to say 'We're here! You and me! With the actual Franz Ferdinand!'" And I was all like "I love your affirmative nature!" The second guitar guy is mentally in Wham!, or he’s at least considered it. He shimmied hard when he played the little keyboard lines, which he did not fuck up. (I hate it when rock bands try the keyb lines on stage but don't bother to nail them because they’re "simple" and “surplus to requirements.”) Main skinny dude doesn’t dance as well as Wham-buddy but he gets spazzy happy and scissors his leg up and down, which is enough. I can’t make the case they don't care at all about being cool, because anybody under the age of 300 cares in some way about this, especially if he or she is facing an enormous crowd at the Roseland. Within these parameters, having chosen the black pants and apportioned each band member the appropriate solid color shirt, they felt more bounce-on-the-bed than cigarette-must-dangle-like-so. And despite my desire to see the world taken over by 14-year-old girls singing over staple guns, I am pleased that a live band playing reasonably well-written songs can sell a million albums. Small problem: chunky bass player looked bored. Take it from The Cardigans’ bass player, a master of hand motions: If you increase the weight, increase the rate. Move, earn it, work it. You’re up against three cute guys as it is, so don’t sleep. (Delays opened, were strong. Half late-80s stadium pop, half deracinated Nashville. Keyboard player walked around and watched the rest of the band when he wasn’t playing. That is hot: We only play the instruments when we need the money.)
28-year-old women signing over staplers are also my shit and, also, eating food is my shit. So before we went to see M.I.A. at Studio 450, we tried to get "take out." The bag we were handed was enormous and weighed as much as an encyclopedia. It was not street food. It was table food. So we perched, troubadour-style, on a demobbed fire alarm and speed-chowed. But this did not put a dent in our enormous Mexican payload. We had, by volume and weight, the exact same problem of food. So Julianne put it in her bag, which felt kind of gangsta. Toting food into a diagonal stripes and stilettos clusterfuck is maybe not gansgta, actually. Maybe it is more lobsta. It is a move that needs a new word, and “bum style” will not do because it is two words.
If you host an “event” now, you must serve free Sparks and Red Bull and all manner of gussied up bathtub crank that I don't think people should spill on their carpets, much less drink. This means there were lots of raccoon hair-donts and sunset fadeglasses moving about nervously but not dancing, because that demands the coordination that cheap speed blocks. This left us room to dance (hold that thought) but the Sean Paul stylings didn’t work for me and since nobody bothers providing a decent sound system for the dancers any more, I started my old man routine: "At The World, the sound felt like a big Waterpik on your brain. At Danceteria, it sounded good both at the bar and in the bathroom.” Wah waah waah.
MIA’s set started on the floor in front of the DJ, without warning, like a Lightning Bolt show. She played with a hype woman and singer who kept saying “Please give me some room.” Nobody did. MIayA played the three songs she's already released and no more. The “hey ya ya hey" singing at the end of "Galang" is this year’s riot music. It is the soundtrack to bottles hitting a wall that's already been half knocked down. It is music for reoccupiers. It is my favorite moment of any song this year, aside from “Son, do you know why I’m stopping you for?”
We also met the mighty Abe of Abstractdynamics fame, the man who has made this blogwave hotter that the fire, or at least as hot as fire. Our talk devolved into an exchange of sports-like threats between Faculty Lounge and Sticker Shock, neither of which exist. But that can change in seconds, and when it does, you’ll never buy records again!
We decamped to APT for Theo Parrish. I don't dance a fraction as much as I should and, as a result, I don't feel entitled to speak about "the scene." But having spent a fair amount of time dancing in other places at other times, I have to ask: What the fuck is up with a dance club that has no dancefloor? Is this all some cabaret laws bullshit? Parrish's jazzhouse/uptempo Mandrillated filterfunk made me want to move about, possibly from the river all the way to the bank. This is not something I could have done. The downstairs at APT is all about walls, not the people leaning on them. The bar is a long, installation-sized wall bisected by a backlit shelf of bottles, which is both functional and pretty. This grows at one end into a horseshoe counter that colonizes the center of the not big room. Dancers must find kickroom in the narrow pathways around these fixtures. (All of this is visible under "downstairs" on the APT website, linked above, so you don’t need to bother with my description.) The backlit, transparent woodgrain walls are also kinda great, but it was hard to enjoy them when I heard these questions looping in my head: “What the fuck? Is this how people dance now? What if you want to do a little windmill, maybe hucklebuck and ride your pony to the left?” Try it the hucklebuck in a broom closet like APT and you'll topple three gazelles and seven gas station attendants. I may have been feeling saucy and as one with the beat but I did not want to start apologizing to Jimjam and Klaus for knocking them over.
But, Theo Parrish. He will make you dance. And “Lose My Breath” is stuck in my head now like a titanium screw. What was I doing, second-guessing The Knowleses? Mortals risk annihilation.
What is missing from the new Destiny's Child single? The Jerkins martial favela beat is tight. The synth stabs are OK, if three steps down from "Crazy In Love"'s Wagnerian Chi-Lites heralding. Is it the singing? No—B is fine, the gospel one doesn't fuck it up and Kelly sounds great. If you ask me—and clicking is always asking—the problem is this: Maybe Beyoncé is spending too much time on her grandma's clothing line, maybe she's losing valuable time making small talk with Japanese film crews waiting to film Shawn's Out box of gently used kicks, but whatever the distraction, B does not have her melody gun set any higher than "Trip subject and then say 'Excuse me.'" For "Apple Pie" and "Survivor" and "Crazy," Mrs. Carter had that R&Bazooka on "Propel subject skywards like a can of RC Cola left in the sun for a week." We hear none of the special Beyonsáuce that keeps DC two floors above 3LW and Blaque. So don't call it a comeback.
[Long drive to wrong place. Rueful monologue about MapQuest. Tears. Discussion. Placation. Eating.]
“What if you drank Coke every day?”
“You’d get fat.”
“Will I get fat?”
“You almost never drink Coke. And you’re active.”
“I'm very active. I play baseball. What do you do?”
“You know. I work out on that weird mat. I swim.”
“Mostly you’re at your computer.”
“Well, I’m working.”
"No, you’re not. You’re Googling on your iPod.”
“What does that mean?”
“You’re fudging with your iPod.”
[More driving. Many auditions of “Here For The Party.”]
“She’s a teen?”
“She’s a ten.”
“What does that mean?”
“A ten is someone who is good-looking.”
“What does that have to do with cleaning up? That makes NO sense.”
“Is this art?”
“Is the white part art, also?”
“I’m not entirely sure.”
“Is modern art hard?”
“I think some of it is.”
“Is this string art?”
“OK. It is black. But the white string just looks like string. Is it harder to do regular art?”
“Regular art is when you do something somebody else has already done, but you have to do it really well. Modern art is when you do something nobody else has done but it doesn’t matter how well you do it.”
[Take elevator. Enjoy Bruce Naumann's video cameras, because they show us us.]
"Is that a spider?"
"What is it made of?"
"Is it scary?"
"I think it is. Do you?"
[Back into elevator.]
"Hey, these are cool. You can go inside and there is another circle. It’s like a maze.”
[Leaving, remarkably, without buying or eating anything.]
“Is it hot ever. Is it ever hot. It is so hot I have to change my language!”