Wassup Rockers


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the NYPL category.

Some Words and Images.

Went to see Gary Shteyngart read for his new novel, Super Sad True Love Story at Greenlight Bookstore. This involved me getting on the A and going express three stations past the stop I needed in order to reach the store, and barely making it on time, so that it was so mo’fucking crowded (Gary’s a rock star, don’tcha know!) that I basically didn’t even look for a spot to sit and listen. I just walked around the store instead, which was great because it was my first time at the store and I’d been curious about it. Really enjoyed the space, it’s very welcoming and bright.

In regard to the reading: I don’t know why, but I felt a bit iffy about the story at first, because it involved not only Koreans, but Korean Stuyvesant alumni, which I know a thing or two about. Okay, I went to Bronx Science, and I silently wept to myself wishing some really funny writer dude would share a few kind words about Bronx Science. Except the culture at Stuy and Bronx Science is basically the same, so it’s not that big a deal. Plus, my brother went to Stuy!

(He saw the second plane crash.)

Anyway, Shteyngart did win me over with his humor. Except not enough for me to buy a copy, though I’d like to point out it’s because I can’t afford it. I’m currently #246 on the queue to receive a copy from the library. Shouldn’t take me too long. I think for The Yiddish Policemen’s Union I was in the 500s when I first joined the line, so I’m not too bothered about my place on this line.

On my way home I listened to a recent interview of him with Leonard Lopate and, combined with the reading tonight, the more I’m convinced that Super Sad True Love Story is like a bastard Russian Jewish cousin of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. It’s not just that both authors are immigrants. Ethnicity plays a huge role in the books, and there’s a strong speculative aspect to them, though the approach is different: Shteyngart’s novel is set in the future, whereas Díaz’s Oscar is a huge fucking nerd in love with sci-fi/fantasy. Also, there are significant female voices, and when Lopate asks Shteyngart about it, he says the same thing I heart Díaz say at readings: he tried it because he’d never really done it before. What with the recent Kakutani stamp of approval, could the Pulitzer be next?!?!

Hopefully I’ll get a copy soon and find out for you. Then again, you might as well find out for yourself if my theory flies.

I haven’t had much time on Racialicious lately and was pointed to this post that came out a week or so ago. I saw the title and for some reason the first title that came to mind was Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow (Kiffe kiffe demain), except as I read I learned they were focusing on a rising American trend, whereas Kiffe is about French Muslim girl. The book the post mentions actually sounds really cool because it fills in these complexities and diversity that exist within the Muslim communities in America. I only wish they’d given even more examples of this trend. Kiffe is not, by the way, an urban book. It’s set in the French suburbs. I must clarify, however, that the French suburban life is actually equivalent to inner-city American life. It’s where the lower-class ethnic minorities find themselves stuck… I’m not explaining this right, but if you want to get an example of what life in the French suburbs is like, I most definitely recommend La haine Anyway, I haven’t read Kiffe but I figure if it was good enough to be translated, maybe it’s worth checking out and should provide an interesting counterpoint to this rising trend of urban Muslim fiction.

Been watching some good TV. Obviously Mad Men has started again, but plenty a column inch has been devoted to the damn show and what else could I say? It’s brilliant, it’s brilliant, etc!

I do want to endorse Louie, Louis C.K.’s show. He’s been around a long time and he’s already got a built-in audience. If you aren’t his fan, please do check it out! It’s only half an hour a week and it’s this weird combo of great, funny, sometimes foul standup, bookending two sketch pieces. Except all the sketch pieces feature stories about C.K., or more specifically, a fictionalized version of C.K., and they’re goofy and uproarious and silly and yet sometimes they’re poignant and often incredibly intelligent. It’s low-budget and yet they do so much in the span of, what, 23 minutes? Its rhythm is so different to most of (all?) the stuff on TV right now.

It’s actually thrilling to watch.

The other show I’ve been enjoying is Huge, which is just a really well-written teen drama that happens to be set in a summer camp for overweight kids, which means that it features a lot of fat actors. And they’re great! I love the characters: as in real life there’s no clear antagonists and everyone has flaws as well as redeeming qualities, and unlike a lot of kids’ shows, the adults are as wonderfully rendered as the kids. Yes, Skins, I’m talking about you. It’s not cynical, and yet, it isn’t sappy either.

I’ve been keeping up with a couple of British panel shows. First is Mock the Week. As I’ve mentioned previously I have a soft spot for Frankie Boyle, and I’ve had a hard time with the show since he left it. I get particularly annoyed when someone lame is seated to Hugh Dennis’s right; it leads me to grumble that the guest is not worth sitting in “Frankie’s seat.” His absence has led to a lack of balance among the three team leaders. It would be cool if we could just get another regular, and not one who will mimic Frankie’s role as a fucking rabblerouser but will have a good rapport with the rest of the group. In fact, I’d argue that Russell Howard has try to fill Frankie’s shoes, but it’s hard to take him seriously. And this is coming from someone who likes Russell Howard.

The show itself has gotten such a reputation amongst comedians, notably Jo Brand and Rhod Gilbert, that it seems like a lot have given up on being on it because they think it’s too much work and stress with no guarantee they’ll get a favorable edit. And then there are those, like Mark Watson, who haven’t been invited back even though they’ve been good and likeable guests, if not always at the top of their game. Mind you, there might be plenty of guests who want to be on it and get good exposure, but their schedules may not leave openings for TV appearances. That really limits the number of guests who show up and not all of them are very good at jumping in on a show where the regulars have such a set dynamic amongst one another. Either way, if it doesn’t get consistently good during the rest of the season, I’m gonna jump ship.

It’s just as well because there are better panel shows out there. Such as Would I Lie To You?, which just started up its fourth season. They tend to get decent guests, not necessarily comedians. It’s pretty breezy and light-hearted, not least because the team leaders are great. It’s great for Americans, too, since it’s not about keeping track of British current events and more about personal stories.

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Catch Up.

First off I just want to say that Gustavo Cerati had a stroke recently and I was pretty freaked out about it, but it seems like the prognosis is cautiously optimistic.  I thought he might die and I was very worried for his family, but hopefully he’ll recover bit by bit without any problem. ¡Fuerza Gustavo, te queremos mucho!

—–
On Thursday I spent a shitload of cash on trinkets to make me marginally happier about my existence. I originally intended to go buy some albums—Jamie Lidell, Jónsi, Janelle Monáe, others whose names don’t start with J—but I happily improvised my day out and found some other great stuff instead.

On Wednesday I went to Housing Works to check out the Black Keys pop-up store they set up in the bookstore.  I got there around 5 but they’d already closed up because the band was gonna play that evening.  So I returned the next day and I bought myself a copy of Brothers.  It’s actually my first Black Keys album!  I didn’t know which of the older ones to choose.  In theory I’ve always liked them, but it’s always been from a respectful distance.  The main reason I bought something from the pop-up store is that a percent of the proceeds went to Housing Works.  It’s also the reason why I was willing to part with my cash money even though the record was “expensive.”  It was almost $30 and that was… a lot for me, way more than I usually pay for vinyl.  Pretty much worth the money though–it’s a double LP plus came with a CD version as well.  Well played, Nonesuch Recs.

The first single, “Tighten Up,” has two videos and they’re both hilarious.  There’s a teaser vid with a puppet (YEAHHH!!!), and an official one with kids at a playground.  The official one is pretty heteronormative and even sexist (depending on how you read it) so I gotta roll my eyes at it a little, but it’s still incredibly funny.  My favorite part is when Dan Auerbach throws that kid on the ground when he sees the pretty lady.  It cuts away from that moment so fast that it’s easy to miss, but when I saw I could not fucking stop laughing.  Belly laughs, too.  So fucking incredible.  The best part is, I actually prefer the teaser video!  I’m totally a puppet sympathizer so for me, a soulful croonin’ dinosaur puppet = heaven.

Some other vids I’ve seen recently: Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” which is an all right song but wasn’t that interesting visually except for one of the cute outfits in it, and MIA‘s “Born Free,” which in the past month or so has caused plenty of verbiage committed to its existence.

But how come no one told me that the director of “Born Free,” Romain Gavras, also directed that one Justice’s “Stress”?  Love how “Stress” has not been banned by YouTube the way “Born Free” has been.  Hm…  It seemed like a lot of the commentary was on how this video fits into MIA’s oeuvre and for me that’s slightly more difficult to consider than when I think of how “Born Free” and “Stress” complement each other.  The two videos are pretty frightening visions of authority and disobedience and violence and power—and these visions are particularly male and adolescent.  Oof.  Seriously gnarly.

Much lighter in tone is the vid for “Por la ventana,” the new track by Gepe which you can see below.  It’s pretty simple and it’s not conceptually innovative, but the execution is committed and effective, and everyone seems to be having fun.  Very colorful, too.  Clearly demonstrating that I’m a lightweight for preferring this over Romain Gavras’s stuff, but I’m not bothered.  Gepe’s song is off the hook!  I can’t wait for his new album, Audiovisión, to come out.  I’ve been really keen on the direction his music has taken in the past year or so.

Shit I got seriously sidetracked…  Anyway, after I stopped by Housing Works, I found myself at East Village Books.  I stayed for like an hour, mainly because they were playing this Carter Family album.  I hummed along to most of it while I browsed.  I got a copy of Eunoia!  Really clean condition, too.  I’m very happy about it.  I walked out as the Carters wailed away on “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?”

I also swung by Forbidden Planet, got me Brief Lives (that’s volume 7 of Sandman) and Optic Nerve #8, which means I have own every issue of ON now.  I still need one more Sandman though.  I’m working on it.

In other news, I finally got In the Loop and Breaking Bad season 2 from the library.  I was very excited about the former as I recently read the script for it and I just loved it.  So it was nutty watching it and seeing how different it was from what I’d imagined, from the sets to the setup of shots to the line delivery.  I am surprised that the In the Loop DVD is seriously lacking in features.  Mainly, there’s no commentary track at all; I seriously would have loved to hear about the story, the production and how it fits in with The Thick of It, etc.  Oh well.  The movie’s still pretty awesome, really funny.

Breaking Bad… well, I got it last month, only got through the first 10 eps, so I queued myself up all over again (I know!) and now that I got the DVD I can finished the damn season.  And believe me, it seriously makes you go “DAMN!”  Very stressed out from it, but in a good way.  Trying to decide whether to catch up online before the end of season 3.  It’s gonna take forever for the DVD to come out.  I guess I better decide soon since the finale’s only a few episodes away, but I don’t know how much BB I can take without my head exploding from the tension.

I’ve also been checking out Justified, which is quite breezy in comparison.  I’m very charmed by Timothy Oliphant (read: he’s hot) and by all the twangy twanginess coming out of everyone’s dialogue.  I don’t know that I’d call it superb, but I like it enough to stick with it.  It’s not lacking in poignancy either, which makes it so much easier to like.

A few weeks ago I got the Spaced DVD from the library, too.  I didn’t get through all the commentaries before it was due, which sucks, but in some of them Simon Pegg mentioned he used to do stand up.  I had to look it up, and thank god some kind soul (his mom??  LMAO) uploaded this:

Fucking adorable.  The routine isn’t bad, actually, it’s just that the material is fairly traditional.  Good stage presence though, and I loved how the last bit ended—the crowd response is so awful I totally cracked up.

Something else that’s totally been cracking me up: Parks and Recreation.  I caught up to the final episodes of the season and they were fucking pitch perfect.  I enjoyed this season tremendously and obviously it’s because the writing has been off the hook and the ensemble totally delivers on it!  Paul Schneider and Rashida Jones were a bit misused but for the most part the characters grew and I found plenty to love about them.  Except Jerry.  Jerry sucks.  ;)

The really amazing thing is that even though it’s incredibly funny, to the point where I’m guffawing and gasping for air, I find myself really moved by some of the developments.  It’s weird.  I don’t want to let myself get taken in by a fucking sitcom and yet the show is so good at what it does that, when the grumptastic 20-year-old April failed to get into a bar and her potential date with the ever-goofy Andy came to a premature end, I got a bit teary-eyed.  Just writing about it doesn’t even begin to describe why I got emotional—the expressions on their faces killed me…  And these are supporting players!  But they still bring it.  Shit, I’d tell y’all to watch the fucking show but HEY because of its weak ratings it’s become a mid-season replacement, so it might be a while before we see all these lovely people on TV again.  Sigh.  Hope y’all buy the DVD when it comes out!

…Can’t believe I wrote all this nonsense when I should be studying for a final. Shit.


Back to Class.

A couple of years ago I took this fun class at school called “Writing New York.” The professors teach it every Spring and, unlike back when I took the class, now they have a blog for it too, so if you’re feeling geeky and want to learn more about NYC by reading awesome books and watching awesome movies, you can actually follow along and join in the discussion here. That specific post I’m linking to has a syllabus and everything. A lot of the reading for the first half of the semester includes a lot of non-copyrighted stuff, so you could probably just look it up on the internets and read it for free.

It’s weird, I recently watched Gangs of New York for the first time, and I was shocked by how much information I’d retained from this Writing New York class. I mean, I was a pretty lousy student, but having taken this class made it so much easier for me to watch the movie and understand it in context. Wish the movie had resonated a little more though, LOL. Definitely not Scorsese’s finest, even though I loved his little cameo.

Anyway, you don’t even have to be interested specifically in NYC to enjoy the texts. In the end, I feel like I learned so much about cities and urban life as a whole.


Donnell.

My favorite branch of the NYPL, Donnell, ceased its regular services a while back but today was its very last day. I went yesterday for one last visit and I have to say that I almost cried on the way there. I think I wouldn’t feel so bad if it would close temporarily for renovations, but they’re getting rid of the entire building and building a hotel there. When Donnell reopens, it will be located on the lower level of the hotel. So I will never experience the Donnell library in the same way again. Who knows how long it will take to rebuild.

I do think that the pain I feel is based on nostalgia. The first time I went to Donnell was on a class trip and got a card there. (I think I cried when I lost the card I got from there, which happened over five years later.) I liked going to the “Teen Central” and checking out all the cool CDs and comic books while listening to music. One specific time I remember they were playing Fever to Tell in the background.

As far as selection, the Donnell was pretty right on for me. That’s why I didn’t mind trekking down to midtown and maneuvering my way around tourists and busy office people. It had a great media center where I borrowed out a whole set of Carter Family CDs which is still uploaded on my computer. That’s right–when seeking my soul failed, I tended to just go to the library and uploaded a lot of the CDs I got there. I’m not ashamed to admit this, and in fact I’m so grateful that the library had such a great collection for me to discover. I remember one time I just came across a Smog album… and the only reason I’ve heard Neubauten is because I took out Halber Mensch out of Donnell.

It had a really incredible selection of foreign language literature that really saved me when I had to get books for my Spanish classes. If I wanted something, it was there, you know?

I didn’t go to prom. I went to the Donnell early that evening.

Hmm. Nostalgia is such a dangerous thing. To be frank (and cheesy I guess) I feel like another part of my childhood has really ended. Fuck, now I gotta make another branch my official library.


We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming.

Get ready for a longass post. I know that in the blogosphere, timeliness is next to godliness, but y’all gotta understand my modem died in the ass on the 23rd and it took me a while to get back on track. Believe you me, I was überpissed that my modem died only after two months.

But part of me is really glad, because on the 23rd I went to a free panel for the NYILFF on this movie that, until the day of the panel, was titled Humboldt Park. Now it’s called… something really generic and forgettable with the word “holidays” in the title. I really enjoyed myself at the panel, mind you; the cast members present were Freddy Rodríguez, Luis Guzmán (!!), Melonie Diaz and Vanessa Ferlito. They were all really nice, and the cool thing about the footage was that they really did seem like this big, fun family which warmed my crooked little heart. Half the panel focused on the making of the film and the other half was a Q&A that veered a lot more into Latinos & the film industry in general. But I felt funny listening to the filmmakers. I’m not trynna sound like some punkass kid who’s all “FUCK THE SYSTEM,” but I felt like they were pandering too much to what the studios want. The filmmakers seemed really eager to please a wide audience (por ejemplo, the title change was, apparently, because Humboldt Park “wasn’t testing well”) and although that’s a noble pursuit, you can’t be all things to all people, so I wasn’t sure how to receive this information. More than anything, I ended up feeling worried.

The whole conversation was kinda getting me down, PERO. Then they talked about an upcoming project that I pray will not end up in some sort of development hell. The words “Puerto Rican City of God” actually escaped their lips a number of times. Holy shit. It’s gonna be based on that Tego song, “Julito Maraña.” They said the script was a beautiful mess of 160 mofuckin’ pages. That’s a shitload of pages, y’all. It’s actually gonna be filmed in the Puerto Rican ghetto, too. I don’t know where this area is but I inferred that it’s an area headed by a drug lord, and he actually gave his blessing for this movie to be filmed. They haven’t started filming though, they’re probably still working out all the pre-production shit.

I know we should be moving away from the sort of movie that makes it seem like Latin America is nothing but a destitute shithole filled with violence and pain and corruption, but I dunno… if it’s done well (I fucking hope it’s done well) and there’s true artistry involved, I think this sort of story is worth being seen.

On the 24, I went to the Public Theater to see a new play called Tío Pepe, which was part of the Public’s Summer Play Festival. I knew it was going to be a modest affair, but I had no idea that all the tickets for the play’s week-long run were already sold out. They told me I could get on a waitlist for the matinee, and since I didn’t have other plans, I told them I was game. I was the fourth person on the list and some of the people were requesting multiple tickets, but I totally lucked out and got a ticket!

I’m so glad I got in, because the play totally exceeded my expectations. Just goes to show that, even though this work is by an up-and-coming playwright, Matthew Lopez, the Public definitely produces quality shit. It had a cast of five and, although I don’t claim to be an expert, they were all really wonderful except that a couple of them had really really terrible accents. I mean that it was very obvious they’d grown up here or had lived here since infancy and that they mainly spoke English. But that’s okay, generally their delivery was really good and believable and fun.

The script was pretty good, too, lots of laughs and it was really a great way to deal with issues of escapism and self-delusion, among other things. When I found out the reason for the play’s title, I was like, “Ooh, this is really juicy info.” The other thing is that it was totally sincere about its appreciation of old school musicals. The matriarch of the family, played by April Ortiz, got to sing a bit and she had a great, booming voice. I hope this play can move up to longer runs or bigger venues. It would be a pity to just let it die.

Oh my god, and the actor playing Alejandro, the son who wasted all of his potential, was sooo fiiiiine. He’s some dude named Nathaniel Mendez, and his bio was short as hell–he doesn’t even have a Law & Order credit (yet). What is this kid doing with himself? Okay, maybe it’s because he’s not a New Yorker or something? I was shocked by the short bio, to be frank, because he was so good in the play. Hope he gets more work.

That same evening I went to see Estilo Hip Hop. Last year, I went to a screening of Raquel Cepeda‘s Bling: A Planet Rock, and they showed a preview of Estilo Hip Hop. At that point the filmmakers, Vee Bravo and Loira Limbal, were still seeking financing and were working on their footage. They showed us like 15 minutes, and I’m telling you, that after seeing the final product on the 24th, only two or three of those minutes made it into the 1-hour movie. I do remember them last year expressing their ambition to do a far more extensive project with exposure to more countries, but in the final product they focused on rappers from three countries, Brasil, Chile, and Cuba.

The screening was fucking rowdy as hell. The doc was awesome, I wish it hadn’t been just an hour. The doc doesn’t just focus on hip-hop in Latin America, it also focuses on the real activism that hip-hop has inspired, which I thought was fucking rad. The music was great, too. As ex-Prisionero (and current Updater) Jorge González said in an interview about Chilean hip-hop: “Chile es un extraño caso en el que el hip hop no pasa por los Beastie Boys, sino por De La Soul.” Loosely, “Chile’s a strange case in that hip-hop is influenced not by the Beastie Boys, but by De La Soul.” Don’t worry if you missed out on Estilo Hip Hop in Nueva York, though! Vee and Loira said the movie’s gonna air on PBS in Spring 2009.

As I noted in my overly emotional way last Friday the 25, I had wack first time at the Quad, what with the screening of Stellet Licht (Luz silenciosa) fucking up and all. As luck would have it, El Guincho cancelled all his US shows (visa issues?), which meant he couldn’t do his show at the Seaport. So Friday was just filled with disappointment. The bigger slap in the face is that they were replaced by some Brooklyn indie band. C’mon, those are a dime a dozen. I mean, yeah, the band was okay, but what makes them stand out? I was pleasantly surprised, however, to hear Atlas Sound for the first time. The tourists and other passersby didn’t give a shit, but I thought the music was good. Pop-y just the way I like it, and kinda ethereal in certain parts, too. I wonder what Deerhunter sound like.

On Saturday the 26 I went to see Malta con huevo, which isn’t ~*QUALITY*~ shit, but it still made me giggle. There were like ten of us in this hugeass auditorium, which in itself was totally hilarious. I think my favorite thing about it is the tone and how it changes from the first half to the second, but I also dig the structure of the story.

This past week I wasn’t up to much. I’m still getting used to having cable for the first time since, um, 1995. And that was cable in fucking Chile, too. I’m totally fascinated in how useless it is. (We got the service so my parents could watch Korean-language channels.) We don’t get any of the expensive channels but I was still shocked that there’s really no profanity allowed on cable. I think the bestest thing about having cable is that they show Law & Order all the time, and I’m totally addicted to the entire franchise, it’s true.

I found the Criterion Collection DVD of La haine at the library (thank heavens, cos I didn’t want to spend the money on it without seeing what was in it) and I have decided that Mathieu Kassovitz is the most handsome director in France. Also, fashion aside, the themes in the movie are still remarkably relevant. It was weird hearing the director’s commentary, though, because it was done before Sarkozy was elected, and Kassovitz is very vocal about not being a fan of the dude. But I’m still glad I listened to it, because I did get a better sense of how these kids’ lives are turned upside down in a mere 24 hours. It was cool because he also mentioned that he was on Charlie Rose, so I tracked down the interview and it was great!  It was a relief to see that Kassovitz hasn’t always had a great accent in English–when I heard how well he spoke English on the DVD, I was kinda shocked and wondered if this man was perfect.  I’m glad to see that he is human after all, and that he had to learn not to sound like the stereotypical French person speaking English. You can see the interview here. I also loved hearing on the commentary that Jodie Foster sent a copy of the movie to fucking Scorsese, imagine how Vincent Cassel felt about this? He musta pissed his pants…

I also watched American Psycho and it was pretty fucked up but I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s just that when a part was funny, it was really fucking funny. Like that whole sequence with all those interchangeable yuppies comparing their business cards… it was delightful to watch. It was exciting to find out that it was directed by a woman, just because there aren’t enough female movie directors anyway. I’m glad I heard the director’s commentary for this movie, too, just because it helped me understand and interpret Patrick Bateman a little better.

I’ve been reading a bit, too, if you would call it that. I read Agota Kristof‘s The Notebook, which had its share of disturbing moments, but the narration was incredibly and consistently well-done and the story culminated to a satisfyingly fucked up ending. In addition, I finished The Left Bank Gang and The Living And The Dead by the Norwegian comic book wonderboy that is Jason. I was pretty “meh” about The Living And The Dead, but I thought The Left Bank Gang was fucking awesome. I finally read The Rabbi’s Cat, too. Damn, I totally forgot that Joann Sfar is a dude, so you can imagine my surprise when I read the “about the author” bit in the inside cover of the book. I read Sfar’s The Professor’s Daughter which I thought was too brief and not substantial enough, but thankfully The Rabbi’s Cat did not disappoint. The story was lovely, especially because I don’t know much about the Jewish culture in North Africa, and I also loved Sfar’s artwork. Can’t wait to read the second part.

I also read a couple of essays from this book called Beyond Babar, which is about children’s literature in Europe. The only reason I picked it up at the library is because one of the essays was about Christine Nöstlinger‘s Konrad, which was one of my faves as a kid. There was also one on The Neverending Story and how it’s ~*TOTALLY META*~ in a way that the films could never capture. (Would have been cool to read an in-depth discussion on Michael Ende‘s Momo, too.) It was a cool book with a lot of discussion on translation.

I’m excited about this month. I’m gonna go see Janelle Monáe and Jamie Lidell at Central Park mañana (¡¡es gratis!!), and I’m gonna spend a lot of time at MoMA watching Coen Bros movies. They’re having a marathon! Also, next week, the Fordham University Theater peeps are staging a version of The Martian Chronicles with mofucking puppets, and the tickets are pretty cheap, too, so I’m gonna try and check out the production. Good shit all around.


Pen American World Voices Festival 2008.

Are you looking forward to summer? I could care less about the icky weather, but I can’t wait for all the cool shit that goes down during the summer. Since it’s barely spring, a lot of events haven’t been confirmed yet, but one of them has–the Pen American World Voices Festival. As the name of the festival suggests, every year Pen American rounds up some of the best authors around the world, drops them in NYC and let’s them talk to common folk like us about the awesomeness that is literature. This year it will take place from April 29 to May 4. Am I fucking excited? Hell yeah.

A lot of literary heavyweights will be participating (Umberto Eco, anyone?) as well as younger folk like Uzodinma Iweala. And um, Michael Ian Black is gonna host an event for the Believer(!!). Check out the full list of participants here.

Here is the schedule of events and here is where you can buy tickets for those events that require them. They don’t have tickets for all the events yet. Luckily, however, most of the events are free!!


Summer in the City.

First: I gave up and bought The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. It was on sale, that’s why. Moreover, I checked my library account and apparently I’d only moved up from spot #636 to #477. Not much of an improvement. Amazingly enough, there are about 900 people at the moment awaiting a copy of the novel. Wow. If only this city wasn’t filled with (1) cheap bastards, (2) pretentious farts who like ambitious literary works, (3) long-time fans of Michael Chabon, (4) people who still read the book review section even though newspapers wanna get rid of them, and (5) Jewish people. Oh well, I bet the number of holds for the last Harry Potter is longer, which is a depressing thought.

Second: I got a second job; I will be an usher at Shakespeare in the Park this summer. My friend hooked me up. They’re going to do Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I get paid minimum wage but I don’t mind it since I already have my first job. The first performance is on Tuesday and I’m scared that I’m gonna have a lot of high-maintenance people bother me on the first day. I don’t even know how to get around the theater yet!

What’s brilliant is that I’m only staying through the first act, so I’m never gonna see Romeo and Juliet die!

The hilarious thing is, Lauren Ambrose is playing Juliet, and just a few days ago I attempted to watch Can’t Hardly Wait for the first time. She didn’t look as good as a teenager as she does now, even though (oddly enough) she still looks like a teenager. The movie itself is pretty terrible, which is why I had to just stop it and I’ve spent the past couple of days recovering from how terrible it is. Not sure whether I wanna finish watching it. No seriously, absolutely horrendous. Not as bad as the trainwreck that is Empire Records, but still one of the worst late-90’s teensploitation movies I’ve seen. Just go watch Six Feet Under if you like Lauren Ambrose.


Books and People More Famous than You.

What I learned yesterday: how to pronounce “Chabon” (as in Michael)

I really want to read the Yiddish Policemen’s Union, but I’m probably going to have to (a) wait for the paperback, which is cheaper than the hardcover, or (b) wait for the library to order it, which is free but there’s probably gonna be 5 million people requesting it. We’ll have to see.

Actually, I just checked and the NYPL has ordered 255 copies of Chabon’s new book. That would be great news except that there are currently 636 requests for it. Actually, I’m the 636th person, last in line. Sheesh, whatever happened to people no longer reading books?? It’ll probably come out in paperback before I can even get a copy from the library.

Semi-celeb spotted yesterday: Sean Lennon

I know, it’s totally random. I wasn’t even sure it was him because he had this massive beard, but I asked my friend and she confirmed it was him. He was in a fly suit and walking with a lady friend.

It’s weird living in New York City because it really warps your sense of “celebrity.” By that I mean that a lot of the “sightings” I’ve had have never been really famous people. Y’know, a few Strokes, some Interpol-ers, a couple of Blonde Redhead-ers, a Yeah Yeah Yeah (couple of weeks ago in front of Whole Foods!), etc.

My one celebrity disappointment is that I’ve never seen Mr. Big; I guess he doesn’t count as a sighting since everyone else has seen him, but I feel like I’ve been robbed of a genuine NYC experience. On the other hand, I have seen James Iha multiple times, so I guess that makes up for not bumping into Mr. Big. I did see Christina Ricci once, and once I was in DUMBO and Julianne Moore was there filming a movie.

Even when you do see these people, you never really bother them. You realize, what’s the point? Sometimes I have felt compelled to say something. But even then, you try not to be annoying. Cos you realize they’re just people and there’s no point in putting them on pedestals, right?


Unlikely But True.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on this blog yet, but I am obsessed with the New York Public Library. I love that shit.

Well for some reason I wanted to hear some Tego Calderón so I tried to download El Subestimado but people kept banning me cos I refuse to share (haha, I’m such an ass). But then it occurred to me maybe I should go to the library and they totally had the album! It’s a mad nice copy, too!

And y’all know what I’m gonna do?? SHARE!

Well, just a couple of tracks…  And neither of them sound like reggaetón, hahaha.  I chose “Chillin'” cos I love Don Omar.  Well…  truth is, I don’t make an effort to seek out his music, but I love his voice.  Everything he utters sounds so fucking histrionic and I think that’s really representative of reggaetón–shit that’s overly dramatic.  I also chose “A mi papá” cos the song is pretty, maintenant it’s my favorite Tego song maybe.

Tego Calderón (con Don Omar) – “Chillin’

Tego Calderón – “A mi papá