Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

I fucking love Halloween. It's a holiday that celebrates debauchery, mischief, and—most importantly—50% off clearance sales on November 1 for anything with a skull on it. Over the years, I've worked through my "sexy" phase with odes to my beloved trannie idol, Christina Aguilera and bondage-era Bettie Page.

Last year, I paid my respects to Suicidal Tendencies frontman, "Cyco" Mike Muir. Everyone at my big, gay Atlanta party thought my costume was "Mexican."

This year, I'm going political. No, I'm not going as the President. Fuck that job.

I'm going as the two most cliche costumes of 2008: The Joker and Sarah Palin. At the same time. Of course, you can read more into it... sorta like putting Revlon "Certainly Red" lipstick on a villian. Hmm, what else could the VP candidate and the chaos monger have in common? Lack of common sense? The same absurd smile? All I know is nothing scared me more than the below image of Presidential Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, found on eBay's splash page, no less. Seriously? So many of us are out of work and people are trying to pawn off this garbage? Next Tuesday cannot come soon enough.

See You Next Tuesday...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Slayer!!

Just in time for Halloween, here's a streaming version of Slayer's "Psychopathy Red." Opinions? Holler.

Monday, October 27, 2008

CMJ: Days 4 & 5

Holy crap, my ears are still ringing.

Instead of launching on a Wednesday as it usually does, CMJ started on a Tuesday this year (thereby shifting the annual Conflict of Interest party to Monday) and the total amount of party nights topped off at six. Oy! Seriously, unless it's shopping with someone else's money, I don't think I want to do anything for six days straight. That said, here are the highlights from the last two days of CMJ Music Marathon 2008.

On Friday, I decided to start the night off with some decidedly non-CMJ activities. Specifically, I attended The Happy Corp's Oval Office Happy Hour at Niagra, which offered $1 Dewars specials and a chance to pose for a "presidential portrait." I was strapped into a straightjacket-like contraption that suddenly dressed me in a blazer, dress shirt and tie, and I did my best "Metal President" pose. Look forward to seeing that up here soon.

After that, I walked over to the Heavy Hitter showcase to see Arsonists Get All The Girls and their big draw, I Wrestled A Bear Once. The former provided some stellar math rock and gave my ATL indie-rock homeboy, Aaron "B-Man" Byrd, his first mosh pit encounter. For someone who almost got kicked in the face with a kung-fu roundhouse, he seemed pretty into it. Which is more than either of us could say for ...Bear. In fact, I think the name may have actually referred to the group's singer. She looked pretty tough.

From there, it was off to see Dungen, the Swedish psychedelic lounge band—who perform entirely in Swedish—at the Music Hall of Williamburg. For some, hearing non-English singing may seem distracting, but to my humble, worn-out ears, the mellow vocals served as just another instrument keeping time with the electric piano, guitars, tambourine and occasional flute (yes, really). For all I know, they could have been singing "Kill the Jews" (I doubt they were), but I'd still be into it. And I wasn't alone, the packed house did their best Deadhead dance-offs in response to melodic tracks from Ta Det Lugnt and Tio Bitar, but went completely apeshit when Dungen started playing "Panda." Though I thought about staying for Cheeseburger, the show ran late and I wanted to get back to money-makin' Manhattan (can we still call it that now that the economy is fucked?).


As much as I wanted to sleep in on rainy Saturday, I had to will myself into putting on makeup in time for The Syndicate's metal happy hour at Fontana's, which started at 3 pm. It's a good thing the V2 vodka sponsoring the event contained taurine and caffeine (not to mention sweet, sweet alcohol), otherwise I wouldn't have been able to last the day. The musical entertainment started off with ex-Life of Agony drummer Sal Abruscato's new band, My Mortality. Pretty decent hard rock that could easily be the opening act for Daughtry—and I don't mean that as a diss. I regrettably missed Warship and all the subsequent acts to catch Made Out of Babies and Wetnurse at Crash Mansion.

My Mortality

I have no idea what was up with MOOB's singer, Julie Christmas... maybe she was cycling, or pissed off that she had to play the douche mecca—or even that her openers, Patent Pending, sounded like a shitty version of old Murder 1 (or Mucky Pup, holler!), but punctuating their intense, short set were rants like "I was really hoping you'd all leave by now," and the set closer "Go fuck yourselves... no really!" Damn, girl.

Made Out Of Babies

I only stayed a little while longer to see Wetnurse before heading uptown to what I thought would be the perfect climax to CMJ: my beloved Duke Spirit at Irving Plaza. Unfortunately, because headliners Scars on Broadway managed to break up already, the show was cancelled and we were left uninformed. Imagine my dismay when arriving at the venue only to see the place shuttered: EPIC FAIL! Sure, I had enough time to cab it back to Fontana's to see God Forbid and Darkest Hour, but hunger and exhaustion took over and eventually led me on autopilot to my apartment.

Somehow, I managed to get though the entire week without seeing any bands with the word "Crystal" in their moniker, nor did I attend any gifting suites. Oh well... there's always next year. Thank you, and goodnight.

Friday, October 24, 2008

CMJ: Days 2 & 3

Considering how late I'm posting this, I think you can tell I'm getting tired. For a hermit motherfucker like myself, being out every night since Monday is quite an anomaly, and I find myself losing track of time. Remember that Bon Jovi line where he can tell the day by the bottle that he drinks? I know Wednesday has come and gone because a new Village Voice has appeared, and it still must be a weekday since all my Facebook friends' statuses complain of working through their hangovers. TGIF, people!

On Wednesday, despite a deficit of hot shows, I made it out to see Deerhoof at Irving Plaza. Though I can't say I'd ever sit down and listen to the San Francisco indie-pop darlings on record, it was a joy to watch drummer Greg Saunier bash away at his minimal kit. Seriously, this guy went off like Animal with a hummingbird's speed.

Drummer Rules

Thursday was truly a marathon. Upon lots of buzz that Metal Blade's Bison B.C. were "the Canadian Mastodon," I made a point of seeing them at Knitting Factory. They were pretty good, but definitely not anywhere in the same league at my Atlanta neighbors. Soon after, metalcore stalwarts Left To Vanish hit the stage. The fat dude-friendly group (seriously, are they sponsored by KFC? Their fans are HUGE) put on an intense show anchored by their very own drum prodigy. This kid looked like he was 100 lbs. soaking wet and got carded every day of his life, but he knocked out blast beats as good as Nick Barker's.

Left To Vanish

I only caught bits and pieces of Envy On The Coast, Tombs and Psyopus before tagging along with some new friends to the Bowery Poetry Club, which was hosting a night of Irish bands; and where I caught the fledgling power-pop/emo act, Fighting With Wire. Better live than on record, the band rocked out through a fun set highlighted by the single, "Everyone Needs A Nemesis" while their fans proved once again that white people can't dance (or jump, unless they're being hoisted arrhythmically by bigger Irish people).

Fighting With Wire

From there it was off to the Photo Finish after-party at Beauty Bar to watch more white people dance to Lil' Wayne's "Lollipop" and Rihanna's "Umbrella." Will I ever get sick of her song? Nah.

That's it for now. It's almost time for Happy Corp's presidential happy hour. Two more nights of this; pray for Mojo.

PS: That's me with the beer @ COIX. Hi, Dawn!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

CMJ: Day One + TMI

I'll admit it: I refuse to get on Twitter because I'm a habitual, unabashed drunk texter and the last thing in the world I need to do is put it on blast. Also, who gives a fuck what you're having for lunch? Because of this, those precious moments and serendipitous events I experience daily running around NYC go unpublished. Imagine that, fellow narcissists!

Since yesterday was one of those fun, active ones, I figure I'd let y'all in on a day of my dumb life:

8:00 am: Wake up groggy, post-Conflict of Interest to the sound of jackhammers and my kitten, Ava, meowing for a playmate.

9:30 am - 11 am: Email folks in Milan about the Cut&Paste/55DSL project I'm working on. Wonder what the time difference is with Hong Kong so I can avoid panic attack.

11:30: Reviewing Young Widows questions for Decibel interview later. Listening to catalog helps.

2:30 pm: Print out CMJ itinerary, interview questions, grab recorder and head to a friend's office. Since I don't have a land line and haven't figured out how to record calls on Skype, I rely on some Shady friends.

2:50: Walk out of Canal St. station to spot Chris March, the heavy-set drag-queen friendly designer from Project Runway, Season 4. Try to make eye contact so I can give acknowledging nod. Refuse to say hello, I am a real New Yorker.

2:55: Arrive at Shady Records; Good thing I've been here before so I know the drill. Knock on metal door and await the giant bodyguard inside to slide open the built-in eye-level slit to see who's there. Speakeasy style, all the way.

3:00: Thank my accommodating pal for letting me use space; set up residence in their vast conference room, surrounded by tons of multi-platinum awards from Eminem, 50 Cent, Dido and G-Unit. It's almost like Lloyd Banks' eyes are following me from his giant framed plaque.

3:00 - 3:25: Interview Evan from Young Widows. Seems more mellow than I expected. I threaten to see Yngwie Malmsteen on Sunday instead of them if they don't play my favorite song of theirs, "Bruised Knees" from their debut, Settle Down City. He remains undeterred.

3:45: Head out, free Vitamin Water in hand, to pick up CMJ badge at a church adjacent to Washington Square Park. Text with Tessa about parties and shows to hit.

4:10: Pass by a homeless woman on 14th Street holding a sign that says "Live Politely." Wish I had a camera; more so, wish people would follow her suggestion.

4:15: See a ton of star trailers and a Panavision truck parked on 3rd Ave. Thank you for helping NY's economy!

5:00-7:30: Pore over invites, materials, emails and determine I'm only going to go the 1000 Knives showcase at Fontana's.

10 pm: Arrive at Fontana's and debate drinking. Start with water before heading to Whiskey town. Soon after, the show "sells out" almost immediately while we queue up to get bracelets. Luckily, my CMJ badge gets me in moments before Seattle's Akimbo take the stage. Not surprisingly, their sound and stage show is reminiscent of their former tour mates, Young Widows. Wonder who did it first? Either way, they play a tight set of rumbling post-hardcore and impress the packed crowd.


12:45 am (?): How do I know Trash Talk are on? I literally feel them rumbling beneath my feet as I stand upstairs getting some air. Head downstairs to find a giant mosh pit has pushed the crowd back. Considering this is their third show of the night, they pack a ton of energy into their short but sweet hardcore set.

Trash Talk

1:30-ish: The much-anticipated Bronx are about to take the stage and the place is packed. I always wondered if this LA-based band named themselves after New York's second-worst borough or the eponymous gay sex shop in Amsterdam. Either way, I've always been a fan of their records, but found them boring live both times I've seen them play. Hate to say it, but this raucous gig is changing my mind. Starting out with "White Tar" before launching into "Knifeman" from their forthcoming third album, singer Matt Caughthran acts like the white drugs enthusiast he claims to be, jumping into the audience, falling to the floor and delivering the goods to the rabid audience with his intense performance. Finally, a gritty trash rock band is here to reclaim the throne for LA.

The Bronx

2:30: Find a cab and head home. Note that this truck is probably bigger than my kitchen and I can almost stand up straight in here. Damn, I'm short.

3:15 am: Pass out and wonders what tomorrow will bring.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CMJ: Day 0

CMJ, the war-horse of music conventions, has definitely lost some luster over the years to other conferences like South by Southwest. Still, there's a wonderful tradition of CMJ hosting indie and hard rock bands—and I intend to see as many as I can this year. Hopefully, my brain and body will hold up.

And, per tradition, The Syndicate hosted their 10th annual Conflict of Interest pre-party last night to kick things off. Packed beyond belief, the three-story party held at Rebel (the space formerly known as Goth haven, the Bat Cave) was an excellent first stop to catch up with friends who just arrived in town (Tessa!!), figure out this week's hot shows (yes, I will be at The Bronx tonight) and run into a bunch of unexpected old pals.

I have a theory that most people remember me because I have a weird name (and I've been in the scene forever). So it's especially anxiety-inducing when someone shouts out: "Hey Zena, do you remember me?" and I don't. My usual response if I have no clue is to tell them I probably smoked that memory away, and ask for something to jog my memory. In the case of the man-panions below, Patrick (L) responded: "Yeah, we met at Philly Con. I had a black eye." And that's all it took! [Note the black eye below from that fateful meeting.]

In addition to all the booze, old friends, bathroom lines and free shoes, some artists also played. Anyone remember Rival Schools? Walter Schreifels' post-Quicksand band played, as did ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, who put in a tight performance. And their old manager (and dare I say, my old protege), Josh, being there only made the show that much more special.

But along with the good, comes the bad. In this case, "bad" consists of ongoing early morning construction work outside my apt/home office. Nothing like going to bed drunk at 3:00 am only to wake up to the sound of jackhammers at 8.

This is going to be a long week...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Into The Rabbit Hole

First off, a shout-out to all the friends, acquaintances and random folk who commented (formally or otherwise) on my last post. I received phone calls, suggestions, links for the male Real Dolls—even an invitation to visit our boys serving in Iraq by someone currently stationed there. I'm glad to know that I can write about music and pop culture 'til my fingers fall off, but I'll only elicit a response by admitting that I can't get laid.

Now, to something cool and very important (like Trick Daddy and ODB, this one's for the kids). Friday night is the opening reception of The Grind 2.0 at Atlanta's Rabbit Hole Gallery, and if you're anywhere in the vicinity, I highly suggest you check it out. The Grind 2.0 is an exhibit and live auction of custom, one-of-a-kind, hand-painted and/or laser-etched skateboards by artists ranging from local legends like Charlie Owens to international superstars like Tara McPherson, and a ton of others in between. And all of it goes to benefit the completion of the Swift-Cantrell Skate Park in Kennesaw, GA—the only free park of its kind in the area.

If you don't live in the A (people, please stop asking me how I enjoyed "Hotlanta," no one calls it that down there), you can still join in on the action by bidding online before the reception starts. Last year, I absorbed plenty of free PBRs while admiring work from Bethany Marchman (an amazing Atlanta artist everyone should know), Todd McFarlane and Tim Biskup, and eventually picked up this exquisite Scott Campbell etched board.

Scott Campbell laser-etched skateboard

This year's showing looks even better. I will definitely not be mad if someone decided to buy one for me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Hunger

Like PJ Harvey sang on "Maniac," I need a man. It's getting bad, too. I think I realized things were getting desperate when I dubbed the now-familiar Hare Krishna guy I constantly see at the Union Sq. station, "the cute one." I might've actually blown him a kiss the other day. There he was, passively trying to sell books on karma and vegetarian living, all the while getting sadly shown up by those damn Scientologists and their bullshit free stress tests.

Then there are those times I catch myself browsing at craigslist's "Casual Encounters" section. Though I don't think I could ever go through with meeting a total stranger for the express purpose of extracting orgasm, it's nice to catalog shop through the various peen photos. Incidentally, I think all social-networking sites should adapt this policy of showing dudes' cocks because there are few things more frustrating than groping some guy's package on a third date only to realize the situation down below is shrimpy at best.

How did it get to this point? Good question. Besides the fact that grieving, unemployment and moving probably aren't aphrodisiacs, I am one picky motherfucker. And I scare boys easily. I guess I can't do shit about the latter. Hell, even Candace Bushnell wound up marrying a goddamn ballet dancer. Seriously, I can't hide my ability to out-curse, out-reference obscure metal bands and outnumber the amount of vintage Voltron sets the average Joe Six-Pack owns (and for the record, I own three complete Voltrons, including one that came with mini action figures of all five pilots). All at my own detriment.

So what's a girl to do? Fuck, if I knew, I'd probably be getting some sexy time right now instead of staring at html on a laptop screen. Got suggestions? Holler... Or send pics.