Archive

Rants

o-END-OF-THE-TOUR-facebookWhen I heard about The End Of The Tour—long before a trailer, when it was just a production whisper and a still of bandana-wearing Jason Segal as David Foster Wallace—I knew I’d see it, realistic or not.

Based on writer David Lipsky’s book, Though Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the film follows Lipsky (played with aplomb by Jesse Eisenberg), on assignment from Rolling Stone, following Wallace on the last bit of his book tour for Infinite Jest, in the midwest winter of 1996. I haven’t read the book, which was written nearly verbatim from Lipsky’s tapes, but heard the film echoes it near perfectly. Meaning the film is word-for-word scripted from Wallace’s and Lipsky’s conversations, making it much more compelling than something supposed; and making me, an avid Wallace fan, intent on hearing that voice I love and look to finally speak to me, even if through an actor’s mouth.

Read More

Advertisements

This blog has been in various stages of activity and (even longer stages of) inactivity since I began it in 2012—changing as my priorities did,  as my employment did, becoming prominent when I felt I had something to say and falling off when I felt like I didn’t, or that other projects deserved more time.

But in recent months I’ve been asked repeatedly if I have a place where I post my writings, and given that I do have more writing than I ever did, I thought I might as well dust this old girl off again.

So, here we go—the bean is back, baby

Trying to date in New York is extremely exhausting. Anyone who lives here and is single will attest to that. Especially in the twenty-something range, where, frequently, prospects fall into undesirable categories of arrogant bro, douchey hipster, intellectual snob, or an even-worse hybrid. And these are not stereotypical labels. What I and so many of my female friends find is that the men in this city are repulsively condescending, aloof and noncommittal, or at times outright sexist—at least, until confronted about it, when we become either a) crazy, b) unable to take a “joke”, or c) overly sensitive. Or d) all of the above. Everything was said in jest. No one was serious about anything. Unless they are; the meaning of underhanded insults whose base lies in playground, “But you’re a girl” logic is contingent upon the male speaker’s unspoken intentions—not his tone. Didn’t you know?

This is part of the subject of a recent article in The New Inquiry by Moira Weigel and Mal Ahern entitled Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child, a redress of sorts to an article originally published in French radical philosophy journal Tiqquen. Though more workplace-themed and political in nature than my Williamsburg dating scene analogy, it’s an excellent long read if you take the time to sit down and power through. Among the gems, including an acknowledgement that women today are more frequently found in power packs of lady friends than on a date with someone who uses their gender as irony, is this paragraph, which struck a particular chord with a slightly disillusioned, working-too-young woman as myself:

Women’s long history of performing work without its even being acknowledged as work, much less compensated fairly, may account for their relative success in today’s white-collar economy. This is, at least, the story of the heroine that the new Mancession Lit has created. Call her the Grown Woman. A perpetual-motion machine of uncomplaining labor, shuttling between her job and household tasks, the Grown Woman could not be more different from either fat-year brats like Carrie Bradshaw, or Judd Apatow’s lady Man-Children. The Grown Woman holds down her job and pays for her own dinner. The Grown Woman feels like a bad mom when she sees the crafts and organic snacks that other moms are posting on Pinterest. She wonders whether feminism lied to her, but knows she will inherit the earth. Could this be because she is better than the Man-Child at performing what current economic conditions demand? She is certainly more practiced. Who among us hasn’t faked it, if only to make him stop asking?

I wonder if feminism lied to me. I will inherit the Earth. Say it with me now, ladies.

james-franco-spring-breakers-movieLike most people who are into dark social commentary and hyped-up movies about fucked-up people, I saw Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers this week, the director’s latest foray into arty cinema starring drug-addled youths. I expected to hate it. The pre-premiere interviews and feature articles all focused on the same, tired points: Ex-Disney stars lose their innocence, break out of comfort zones/show they can “really act,” get naked and do drugs on screen! James Franco in cornrows! It was almost enough to make me not see it, except that, like most people, I was far too intrigued to avoid it.

But I didn’t hate it. Actually, I loved it. Despite a slow, stop-start first half hour—the dream state atmosphere Korine was going for with way too many “flashbacks” to scenes that happened minutes before was disjointed and annoying— and moments of disconnected cheesiness—no girl, no matter how “badass” or bored, would ever draw a heart over the words I ❤ Penis on a piece of paper and hold it up to her friend during a lecture—the point was, well, on point: Kids these days, just as Chloe Sevigny & Co demonstrated in 1993, are fucked up. And you don’t understand, couldn’t possibly understand, the half of it, unless you too have been in any sort of comparable experience.

Which is why everyone else, including most media outlets and critics, seems to have missed Korine’s very valid point: Because very few people older than the current twenty-something demographic who can relate to what they see on the screen. Sitting in the sizeable, completely packed theatre in Union Square, I was surrounded by two types of people: The people who laughed, and the people who did not.

The former is perfectly represented by the the group of middle-age (“culturally aware”) group of friends behind me, and the large guffawing middle-America-type woman in front of me. People over the age of thirty, attending because either A) they read about it in New York Magazine and saw Kids once and needed to be able to hold a discussion at this week’s dinner party or around the office, or B) they saw the trailer, saw sex and drugs, and figured it would be highly entertaining.

All of these people thought James Franco’s grill-wearing, ghetto white boy Alien was hilarious. True, it was very, very difficult to stifle laughter for the first 5 minutes he was on-screen—you can’t have that man say things like “drank” and “we do it dirty” in a hood Southern accent and expect us to let it slide right away. But, if you are a proper movie-goer, you suspend your disbelief to enjoy the film. Most of these people never did so. The “Look at all my stuff!” scene, where Alien jumps on a bed wielding machine guns and throwing bricks of dope and wads of cash into the air (a la a 2013 drug-dealing Jay Gatsby, as the Times noted) issued riotous laughter. He’s so silly! When Alien sits down at his white baby grand in the middle of a waterfront backyard to play Britney Spears ‘Everytime’—a song which he told New York Magazine was “a condensed pop version of what I wanted to do with the movie… really eerie, kind of glossy and airless and haunting” (so, uh, pretty important for the film)—while his three bathing-suit clad collegiate hit women dance around with shotguns and pink face masks, giggles reverberate up and down the rows. They’re so weird!

That laughter gave them away. They didn’t really get the deeper commentary: On the insurmountable materialism of people whose sole desire is to earn money for “more stuff,” and whose primary means of doing so is by stealing or selling illicit substances; On the double-speak often invoked by men like Alien who are used to getting all the nice things they can flash a wad of bills at, including girls they bail out of jail; On the bleak emptiness of life for girls like Candy and Cotty and Brit, bored and poor and futureless, looking for something to liven them up even if it involves live ammunition; On the tendency of teenagers to treat everything, including their own life, like a game.

The people who didn’t laugh—my friend and myself, the myriad groups of other twenty-somethings and teens in the audience—understood these points. Throughout most of the film, we were silently digesting, recognizing too-familiar scenarios on the screen. Afterwards, my friend and I discussed parallels over a cigarrette. She’s been to spring break in Florida, and what Korine depicted in the opening sequence was identical, if not actually tamer, than her experience. I grew up in a tourist trap beach town, familiar with underage substance abuse as well the sketchy undergrowth of people like Alien and his crew that those areas breed. We’d both seen friends and classmates succumb to drugs and guns, drop out of school to live a perpetual party that’s much more sad and hollow than it is fun. The scenes of Cotty (Korine’s wife, Rachel) trying to guzzle beer poured down her throat by a group of guys and nearly vomiting on herself in the process can be found at nearly every college party. Currently, my hometown public high school has an issue with its students dealing heroin.

No one of us laughed because Spring Brekaers is pretty spot-on satire. No, we don’t know anyone who has used their spring break to move in with a dealer and go on a murder spree. But the underlying bleakness is almost too relatable. There are, without a doubt, kids in the iPhone generation with tar-colored souls and nothing to lose. By contrast, those theatre gigglers outside of our demographic, while not without generational dark spots of their own, aren’t on the same page as these lost little girls; girls who are young enough to be their daughters.

Whether you’re a fan of Korine and his less-than-subtle social commentary or not isn’t the issue. It’s learning to digest a phenomenon you don’t understand instead of shrugging it off as a joke.

A long, slow bike ride through a better neighborhood than mine to be “introspective,” finding myself (physically) at a ferry pier that extends far enough into the East River to make one feel landless and with all Manhattan’s high-rise glory sprawled in front, demanding attention.

“Who am I?” I ask the choppy cobalt waters. “What am I doing with my life?”

The post-storm gusts are angry, forceful, “I don’t know,” snap the seas, “Maybe you should stop pretending you’re in a fucking movie with this panoramic soul-searching shit and figure that out.”

I sigh. The river is right. I am an idiot.

I’ve been talking (and tweeting) non-stop about Firefly Music Festival since it was announced earlier this spring; as the first weekend-long, camping, legit headling bands plus smaller equally-amazing acts, music festival the Mid-Atlantic region has ever see (Warped Tour does not count, guys), it’s kind of a big deal. I may live in the Big Apple now, but I grew up in small town Maryland, and let me tell you, no concert worth seeing happens around those parts. You’re looking at a 2-hour plus drive to D.C. or Philly or Norfolk to see anything cool. Needless to say, when I saw that a festival with Jack White and The Black Keys headlining was happening in Dover, Delaware for $180 ($220 now) for a three-day pass, I got right on that shit.

But maybe you’re not acting on a desire to see musical notoriety come to your childhood region. Why should you care about this festival when there’s Bonnaroo and Lolla and SXSW and all that jazz?

For one, there’s the lineup. Headliners: the aforementioned Jack White and Black Keys, tickets for whom (if you can even get them before they sell out) run around $50 each, then Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, and the just-added-today (and fulfilling all my 7th grade dreams) Modest Mouse. You’d be spending over $200 just to see any 4 of those bands. Besides the headliners though, the organizers really did their homework on bands who are fantastic but not totally blown up yet: my favorite of the moment Reptar, last year’s fav The Head and the Heart, The Knocks, Grouplove, Mayor Hawthorne, Bombay Bicycle Club. And then there are the solid additions that will definitely put on a swell show: Lupe Fiasco, Cake, The Flaming Lips, Passion Pit, Silversun Pickups, Young the Giant, Cults, Chiddy Bang. And that’s not even everyone! So you’re already looking at a well-curated selection of musical tastes in varying degrees of popularity that’s well worth the $220 price tag.

Two, location location location. If you’re in Cali, well, this isn’t your thing. But for all us on the heavily populated East Coast, the central Delaware location is pretty prime. It’s easily accessible from New York, D.C., Philly, and Baltimore by train; even Boston is only a few hours away. And if you’re driving, it’s a straight shot off I-95 (a super easy trek I’ve done innumerable times). How many non-exclusive music festivals are a 2.5 hr drive from New York City? None. Literally. Also, it’s not Texas or Tennesse–less sweating and chance of heatstroke.

Three, this is the first one! Ever! And maybe I’m counting my memories before they’re made, but the inauguration of any festival is a story in and of itself. If this becomes the next played-out, everyone-and-their-brother-going scene in a few years (I see you, Coachella), I’ll be very happy to say I got there before the crowds did.

They also got their own beer from Dogfish Head. Andthere is an option to see any of the shows from a hot air balloon, if you shell out for the VIP glamping pass (only $1200!). That’s pretty baller.

I’ve made my case. If you’re not convinced… get out of here. If you are, well, I’ll see you on the music field.

Fireflymusicfestival.com

Damn. What a sad sad for NYC. Beastie Boy MCA, aka Adam Yauch, died earlier today after battling cancer for three years. Right before they made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame too… damn. It’s never easy to see good talent pass away.

Pretty sure the whole city is throwing down a tribute track right now. As it should be.