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andee's world: May 2005

andee's world

Hello and welcome to my blog. This space will be devoted to opinions, observations, lists, articles and whatever else I feel like posting. Subjects will include music, human nature, politics, life in NYC, etc. If I paste someone else's writing up here, it is because the author said something way better than I ever could. By the way, I don't claim to be a particularly smart guy; I'm just a musician with some opinions. If you disagree with me, that's cool -- but then, you're probably wrong.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I'm Not Going Anywhere...Yet

I've been hearing alot of talk lately about how shitty New York City has gotten in recent years. And lot of that talk has been coming out of my very own yap. Since I and most of my friends are artists of some kind, this gripe is entirely understandable. Surviving in NYC is hard enough when you're a musician, writer, actor, dancer, sculptor, or what have you -- but watching your city get co-opted by obnoxious, moneyed, boring, uncreative fuckwads with trust funds and/or corporate expense accounts makes it much, much harder to carry on.

Plus, it's flat-out depressing -- didn't we all come here to escape these kinds of people?!

The Lower East Side has become a joke -- it's like a corny university campus, teeming with overfed GAP monsters waving their credit cards around as they run in herds from one bar to the next. Not that it's any better where I live -- Williamsburg Brooklyn is now about as hip as the Jersey shore in July -- these days I can't even walk down N. 6th street on a Friday night without having some dull-eyed, puffy-faced frat boy in a shiny button-down shirt shouting "FAAAG!" at me while waiting in line with his happy-hour-drunk posse to get into Sea (you know, "that place that was in Sex and the City or something...").

Yeah, I've watched New York change in the nine years I've been here. Herr Guiliani's oppressive, whitewashing, nu-Disney reign and aggressive anti-nightlife campaigns (which continue under Bloomberg) have bullied many of our favorite venues off the map and made NYC safe for rich white people and inhospitable to the rest of us. Uber-moneyed corporate yuppie types have priced most of us out of our East Village and Lower East Side apartments and across the river into Brooklyn (it seems like we'll just keep getting chased further East each year, until we all wind up in the ocean).

I'll tellya what, though -- I am still amazed by this city. This place is filled with some of the most committed, creative, intelligent, colorful, hard-working and progressive-minded human beings anywhere. You have to look a little harder to find them but they're here, I meet them all the time and they continue to blow me away. In New York City there is a kaleidescopic confluence of people from all over the world, the likes of which I have yet to see anywhere else. There's an electricity that comes right out of the pavement here, a restless hum of ideas and creativity coursing through the air.

New York may not be quite what it once was, but that doesn't matter, because we're here now -- and NOW, as always, is the time to either realize your visions or don't. It's easy to get jaded, especially if things aren't panning out for you the way you'd first dreamed when you arrived in the Big Apple -- but blaming it all on the "yuppies" is all too easy...and a bit of a cop-out, I'm afraid.

We all romanticize the seemingly utopian bohemia of Downtown New York in the mid-to-late Seventies when the Ramones and Television walked the earth. Do you have any idea what kind of a crime-ridden shithole the East Village was then? Me neither, cuz I wasn't here -- but by all accounts, it was one rough place to live, an urban no-man's-land populated solely by junkies, criminals and dirt-fucking-poor artists and musicians who simply could not afford to live anywhere else.

I have a strong feeling that those guys n' gals suffered a hell of alot more for their art back in those days than we do now; and what's more, they created brilliant, revolutionary scenes out of pure will in a place where it simply didn't exist before and in an environment that was quite literally hostile. Which makes me wonder....what the fuck are we complaining about? Starbucks?!

So here we are in 2005, a time when you're more likely to run into the Olsen Twins than Iggy Pop if you stop into 7B for a beer on a Friday night. It's a different city now, and probably not as "cool" or "edgy" as it once was. Warhol, Haring and Basquait are dead, as are most of the Ramones. Madonna, well past her Alphabet City days, lives in England, probably on an estate the size of all of Manhattan. So, what do we all do, move somewhere else?

Some of you will, but not me. Despite everything, I still love New York and in a bizarre way, I want to defend it. I would hate to leave the "Greatest City in the World" to rot in the hands of the soulless cretins who happen to be using it as their personal playground at the moment. These people annoy me, sure enough -- but I don't want to let them win. Do you?

And, who knows? -- maybe one day I'll give up on this crazy lifestyle and move to the suburbs with a broken will and a bunch of wistful stories about the "good old days" -- but man, oh man, that would be lame.

I came to NYC nine years ago with an idea, and as much as the city has changed since then, my idea is still a good idea, and I plan to stick to it. So all you assholes are gonna have to deal with me for awhile.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Truth Catapulting

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

—GW Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Pat Robertson is a F*cking Nut

As extremist right-wing Republicans continue to pander to the lowest-common-denominator fringes of conservative America in an effort to gather support for their heinous "nuclear" scheme (a term, by the way, that the Republicans originally coined but are now blaming on the Democrats), Christian Coalition founder and luney-tunes right-wing nutjob Pat Robertson brought the rhetoric to obscene heights this past Sunday when he suggested, on the Stephanopoulis show, that the threat posed by liberal judges is "probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."

Stephanopoulos: "the most serious threat America has faced in nearly 400 years of history, more serious than al Qaeda, more serious than Nazi Germany and Japan, more serious than the Civil War?,"

Robertson: "George, I really believe that."

The man is certifiable.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Andee's Quintessential Springtime Music, Part 1

When the seasons change, I invariably wanna hear the music that I associate with that particular time of year. For whatever reason, I got turned on to the following fine albums in the spring seasons of years past -- and every year, when the weather starts to warm up and the earth comes to life again, I want to crank 'em up:

The Damned The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Ah, the Damned. Can't say enough about this band -- what a riotous good time they are! I have all their records but this is the first one I ever owned and it's a Damned good place to start, horrible pun intended. It's a double disc set that contains all the most essential Damned from '76 to '86, including all the singles plus otherwise hard-to-find, but must-have non-album stuff like "Nasty," "Lovely Money," "Rabid," etc. This is the only "best-of"-type Damned collection out there that really brings together all the definitive stuff. You can't go wrong with this one, whether you're a newcomer to the band or hardcore fan. I will always identify this record with my first spring in NYC...sigh.

Cibo Matto Viva La Woman!
This record came out in spring '96 and and to me it will always be linked to that particular point in time. Such a refreshing treat it was then, and still is now. For my money, you can't go wrong with two crazy Asian chicks screaming about food over a lush bed of breezy, bouncy trip hop grooves. Great for the smoky, after-hours hang.

Ned's Atomic Dustbin Brainbloodvolume
Their third, last (and best, in my opinion) album. Ned's were a clever UK group whose pop/thrash sound was stylish enough to start with but by their third record the band's sense of adventure really bloomed as they fully embraced electronics, samples and a great variety of moods and textures. Listening back to it now, it really stands up as something special. It's a shame no one paid attention at the time (spring 1995). Life goes on.

Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP
For various reasons I was in a bit of a funk in the spring of 2000, so Eminem's second album couldn't have come at a better time. The Marshall Mathers LP put me right back on track.

Love Like Blood Odyssee
Ok so German goth rock may not be the sunniest music in the world -- probably much more appropriate for fall -- but I got turned on to LLB in the springtime and anyway this stuff sounds perfect on April/May evenings indoors, a dark breeze blowing in your open windows, playing havoc with the candlelight (oh, lordy, how GOTH is that?). Anyway, Odyssee and its immediate predecessor, An Irony of Fate, are gorgeous, mid-90's productions that perfectly synthesize all the classic 80's goth influences: Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, etc. Hard to find in the US, though, so hit up eBay.

The Chiffons One Fine Day
Early 60's girl group fun. Really great songwriting (albeit with some hilariously pre-Women's Lib lyrics like "if the boy's happy, the girl's happy too!"). This music is lighter than air. My favorite is "Sweet Talkin' Guy."

Public Enemy It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Bought this one in spring of '98, during which time I was also taking regular heavy doses of Propellerheads and the first Pretenders record. Apparently I was listening only to artists who start with a P. Anyway, the sound of Chuck D's voice is incredibly motivating -- the man breathes pure conviction into each and every syllable -- and the music is hypnotically powerful. Dig the Slayer sample on "Channel Zero" -- I love how P.E., Slayer and the Beasties were all swimming in the same gene pool back in early DefJam days.

Motorhead Iron Fist
On a spring afternoon in '99 I was perusing the used bins at Joe's CDs on St. Marks Place and Motorhead's Iron Fist snarled at me from the M section. I bought the CD and an obsession was born. How did I live without the mighty Motorhead before that day?! I was lucky enough to see the band at Irving Plaza a month or so later and a burst of activity from the mosh pit sent me flying backwards. I landed right on my tailbone and couldn't walk normally for a couple days. Ouch. Great show, though. I see them whenever I can and it's always the best time ever. There are better Motorhead records than Iron Fist, but this one has a special place in my heart. It goes great with sixpacks of cheap beer at the end of a warm day.

Papas Fritas Helioself
I heard the song "Hey Hey You Say" on WBAI (I think) in spring of '97 and I loved it so I bought this record. Nothing else on the album quite stands up to that stellar opening track, but it's still really excellent -- a disarmingly warm, infectious pop record. Might be a little "twee" for some (and I definitely have a low tolerance for precious indie pop) but I think the strength of the songs outweighs the cutesy-ness.

Chemical Brothers Exit Planet Dust and Dig Your Own Hole
Hearing the Chemical Brothers for the first time was incredibly exciting -- it kicked off my infatuation with dance music. I remember drinking Black Russians and cranking the Chem Bros while getting ready to go out during the spring nights of '97 in my apartment on 11th street. What a great way to get wound up. I still get excited listening to those CDs now -- too bad there's nowhere to dance in this godforsaken city...

Shudder to Think Pony Express Record
Wow, this album amazes me more with each passing year. I have a bunch of Shudder records, but none of them really matches this one. Angular, arty arrangements, massive, metallic guitar riffs and Craig Wedren's arresting, flamboyant croon add up to create something unlike anything else I've heard. Craig plays around NYC alot these days -- go see him if you get a chance. He sings his ass off.

Faith No More King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime
Mike Patton & Co. were a criminally underrated band. Most people don't realize that Faith No More made THREE brilliant albums after their fluke hit, "Epic." This is one of them. Spring of '95.

The Smiths Louder Than Bombs
The Smiths were a classic band, following right behind the Beatles and the Clash. In just five years they created an astonishing repertoire of fantastic, timeless songs. This collection puts together most of their non-album singles (and there are over 20 of them) and is essential to anyone who is interested in the band.

KMFDM Naive and Angst
I bought these two CDs at the same time, so in my mind they are somewhat inextricable from one another. Anyway, the music proved to be a powerful introduction to the Teutonic industrial/metal collective, and I fell in love with KMFDM immediately. The song "Godlike" (from Naive) borrows the very same Slayer riff that was sampled in P.E.'s "Channel Zero." If you ever come across the original version of Naive (with the orange print), pick it up! -- it was taken out of print years ago due to a sampling lawsuit, and is consequently very rare. It was replaced by the significantly different Naive -- Hell To Go (green print), which is also very much worth having in its own right. KMFDM -- collect 'em all!!

The Cure Wish
The last great Cure album (insert wistful sigh). In the spring of '92 I had just discovered the band and my Cure fandom was in full bloom. I listened to the "High" single over and over, eagerly awaiting the release of the full-length album. Wish did not disappoint. Yeah, it's got a few underwhelming songs ("Trust," "Cut," "Wendy Time") but for the most part it's vibrant and inspired -- and I will stand behind "Friday I'm In Love" til the day I die. A great, great song. After this album, Robert Smith's songwriting became increasingly self-conscious and predictable, I'm sad to say. But then, who am I to talk?


Favorites of Spring 2005:

Richard X Presents the X Factor, Vol. 1
Thanks to Claudia for turning me onto this. British electronica producer Richard X collaborates with a slew of guest vocalists (my fave being Kelis) on this tremendously fun dance record. On the opening track, Richard bangs out a stellar version of Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody" with Liberty X. What a blast. For some reason, this CD can be found on for pennies. Go fetch yrself a copy!

Bloc Party Silent Alarm
This much-hyped buncha Brits are yet another new band influenced by Gang of Four and the Cure, but they're got some really good songs, which they execute with nervy conviction. They seem to really believe in what they're doing. Still listening to this one but the first couple spins left a good impression.

Rolling Stones Black and Blue
The classic rock overkill of my suburban, FM radio-fueled childhood successfully burnt me out on bands like the Doors, the Who, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones (I can still confidently say that I never need to hear "Sympathy for the Devil" again as long as I live). But lately I've gotten interested in the Stones' late 70s period. I bought Black and Blue just to have a copy of "Hot Stuff" but was pleasantly surprised to also find some other gems like "Hand of Fate" and "Memory Motel." This was their first record with Ron Wood.

Nina Hagen Nunsexmonkrock and In Ekstasy
Nina Hagen makes me happy. Anyone this kooky, fearless, inscrutable, and over-the-top talented will always put a smile on my face. I just picked up these two gems a few weeks ago over at Academy Records on N. 6th Street in Williamsburg (killer store). Could an artist like Nina Hagen have a major label career now? Hard to imagine it...

Happy Spring 2K5, y'all...