Saturday, August 29, 2009

Film Review: In The Loop

Early in Armando Iannucci's hilarious political satire In The Loop, Britain's Secretary of State For International Development Simon Foster naively tells a radio interviewer that war in the middle east is unforseeable. As innocuous as this comment may seem at first, it suggests both that the British government has been considering war and that the Secretary believes war to be a bad idea. To cynical communications director Malcolm Howard, the Secretary's statement fails to toe the British government's offial line, which is . . . that the government has no line on a hypothetical war in the middle east because it has never considered going to war in the middle east. Howard tells the minister that, from now on, his public line on the war is to be that it is neither foreseeable nor unforseeable; not inevitable but not . . . evitable. If you think that things are starting to sound Orwellian, you're right - but they are only starting.

In The Loop is about how media spin effects the run-up to a war in an unnamed middle eastern nation, presumably Iraq, but it is about so much more than that: how disorganized government can be; how the most effective tool of persuasion in a meeting of bureaucrats is a loud voice and a poison tongue; how important decisions are made by over-worked, distracted people whose priorities are out of line, about how legitimate, carefully-researched policy considerations often take a back seat to the desire to say whatever it takes to one-up your rival or impress a pretty girl you used to go to school with, about how government secretaries can decide to go to war because the most articulate dove was too distracted by the pain from a botched dentist's appointment. In a running joke that is both hilarious and depressing, and to which anybody who has ever worked for a member of Congress can relate, Secretary Foster is repeatedly sidetracked at moments of genuine crisis by the controversy over the fact that the brick wall of his regional office is falling down, and threatening to collapse into a little old lady's garden behind the row house next door. In so many ways, being strong is less important than avoiding the appearance of being weak.

In a movie full of the most beautifully inventive, graphic, machine-gun profanity I have eer seen, Anthony Capaldi's performance as communications director Malcolm Howard stands alone. Exhibit one:

He spits out his Scottish-accented insults with hostility and menace that even his non-curse words hurt your ears. A lot of movies (Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, etc.) are known for their profanity, but in how many movies do you hear someone threaten to "punch you into paralysis," and really mean it? And, for all that, Howard isn't even the character described as "the crossest man in Scotland" - that distinction belongs to Jamie McDonald, who is introduced in the second half of the movie in a brilliant, Bringing Up Baby-style twist,

The movie's hand-held camera work and deliberately jumpy editing style may turn off some viewers, but its vitality and energy more than make up for what it lacks in polish. With the possible exception of James Gandolfini, the movie's stars are all old-pro-type character actors, and their combination of familiar faces and unfamiliar names is a perfect fit for the mid-level bureaucrats they play. The movie features ten or twelve memorable supporting characters, and dialogue that would be eminently quotable if it wasn't too dirty to use in mixed company. It plays like the bastard lovechild of Dr. Strangelove and the original British version of The Office. Only dirtier. Much, much dirtier. It is the best movie I've seen this year, and possibly the funniest movie I've seen since Borat.

Gameday!

Big Fan stars CSD-favorite Patton Oswalt, and is directed by Robert Siegel, the former editor-in-chief of The Onion. Inspector Frank Bumstead saw it at Sundance and reports that it lives up to its impressive pedigree. Here is the trailer:


In other Patton Oswalt-related news, he sat for a lengthy interview with the Onion AV Club this week, and his new stand-up comedy album/dvd My Weakness Is Strong has been getting good reviews.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In Which I complain about Ryan McGinley's eulogy

So Dash Snow died of a heroin overdose about a month ago (obit, NYT article). He was mostly famous for being a very rich (scion on de menil family of the Dia center for the arts) and wild downtown artist/tagger. He was not very productive as a professional artist, but he had a lot of notoriety thanks to his pedigree, vice magazine, and his proximity to photographer Ryan McGinley.

McGinley is quite a famous art photographer with works in the National Gallery and other august institutions. His photographs usually depict thin, beautiful white downtown artists engaging in young adult hijinks--running around in fields, playing in ball pits, being half naked, drinking/smoking. They are beautiful pictures, but the rap on him has always been about whether they are art or not. He is a downtown artist making art about the lifestyle of downtown artists. The pictures can be mistaken for beautiful party shots. It would be like if a famous baseball player made paintings about baseball. people could love looking at them, but a critical establishment might be skeptical about their transcendent artistic merit. I like McGinley's pictures generally. but that isn't what I come to talk about.

McGinley wrote this essay in the most recent vice magazine about the death of Snow. I am deeply disappointed by the piece. It is quite simply the most self-centered, superficial eulogy one can imagine. I have to assume that this was McGinley attempting to seize on the death of a friend to further his own personal mythology about wildness/coolness. There is no emotion in the piece--only a litany of culture signfiers (cocaine, gold tooth caps from canal street, tagging, black people, speeding, europe, police, sex) which happen to be the same signifiers in his art. McGinley even has the gall to lionize heroin as a great and fun drug after it killed his friend. I know all of this makes me a prude, but these are not the things one says when a friend dies. This piece is self-involved, self-aggrandizing, and completely lacking in genuine emotion. If it is McGinley's intention to show that his pictures are more than the beautiful ephemera of a self-involved culture, he has failed. He has show a lack of broad-thinking and universal feeling where he probably attempted to show authenticity.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Laughing With the Hubris of Youth

The Onion has always had an encyclopedic knowledge of cliches, but rarely are they used to such winning effect. As always, the scroll across the bottom of the screen is just as funny as the video-in-chief:

Sudden Ominous Music Heard Across U.S., Nation Panicking

Bruce Springsteen is old, fun

I went to see springsteen on Saturday night.

1. The only song he played off of "Nebraska" (my favorite album) was "Johnny 99." But it did give rise to one of the great ironies of the night. Johnny 99 is about a man in new jersey who falls into dire economic straights and just loses it. Three lines from the closing stanza go,
"The bank was holdin my mortgage and they were gonna take my house away/
Now I aint sayin that makes me an innocent man/
But it was more `n all this that put that gun in my hand"
One of the headline sponsors of the concert is Citigroup.

2. Bruce takes his roll of "bard of American music" with lots of self-conscious seriousness. He played the 19th century American folksong by Stephen Foster, "hard times" as well as a medley of '50s numbers including "devil with a blue dress/good golly miss molly."

3. Middle-aged people freaking love "Rosalita." It always struck me as sortof sprawling and unfocused--Like "I've seen all good people" without the chess metaphor. but it blew the club up.


4. Bruce is old. there, I said it. he's old. He rocks hard up there, but I kept worrying he was going to have a heart attack. He was clearly gassed after long up-tempo numbers--gasping, remarking on the heat, saying "oh god" and trying to laugh it off. It made me uncomfortable. I had a similar feeling seeing Toots and the Maytals. It was like watching your father/grandfather struggle to carry a heavy box. You feel intensely guilty that they are straining and want to rush in to do it for him, because you are better equipped to do it physically. With Toots, The racial and geographic aspects made his middle-aged exhaustion feel vaguely colonial. With Bruce, I just wanted to tell him to take it easy or he would throw his back out.

This Can't Miss, Vol. 2 - What Would Portia De Rossi Do?

Research suggests that circumcised men are significantly - perhaps up to 50% - less likely to contract HIV from having unprotected sex with women relative to their compatriots whose bulldogs still have their ears. (Apparently, this true of other sexually transmitted diseases as well.) Scientists and policy makers have been encouraging circumcisions in condom-unfriendly sub-Sarahan Africa for years. However, even if circumcising young boys is a very successful tactic, it would take 18-25 years for it to make any significant dent in the spread of AIDS.

For this reason, there are several different movement afoot to encourage adult men in high-risk populations to get circumcisions, one of which is called Operation Abraham - a terrible double-pun whose writer needs to get fired from whatever positions he or she currently holds. Other than straight-forward ignorance, a significant reason AIDS is killing sub-Saharan Africa is because, for a variety of cultural reasons, many African men are too proud or stubborn to wear condoms. There's probably no way to make adult circumcision sound fun or cool, but naming it after a ninety-nine year-old man who got circumcised as part of an Talmudic covenant with God in return for a promise that his wife would populate the holy land seems like a bad Coen Brothers joke; in the real world its just creepy and weird.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend Links

Here's what we've been reading and watching this week:

Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds is inspiring some wonderful film criticism; David Denby's amazement at Tarantino's ability as a filmmaker offset by impatience with Tarantino's self-indulgences; Karina Longworth's subtle second opinion, and from Roger Ebert, who liked the film so much that he has been saving his review since he saw the film at Cannes back in May and believes that this movie further solidifies Tarantino's status as 'the real thing.' It appears that, whether they like the movie or not, critics agree that a major filmmaker has swung for the fences, and the result needs to be discussed.

In BHD-tastic music issue of The Believer, Arthur Phillips discusses how to write about music. His wonderful novel This Song Is You would suggest he knows of what he speaks.

The House Next Door's analysis and summaries of Mad Men should be must-reads for fans of the show. I interpret several of the scenes differently, but then the show's delicious ambiguity is one of the reasons we like it so much.

Subway grafitti is illegal all of the time and annoying most of the time, but this is just awesome.

The Onion had a strong week, with its infographic about David Mamet's adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank and its coverage of Panetene's new masturbation-friendly shampoo.

And finally, just because its awesome:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

This Can't Miss

Apparently, a company called Tantus is marketing a Twilight-themed dildo, beseeching you to not "let this eclipse pass into the breaking dawn, place your order today." It is 'just' a dildo, meaning that it doesn't bounce all up and down on the clit, but it does sparkle in the sunlight, just like the impotent Mormom vampires (or whatever the hell they are) from the best-selling series of novels aimed at adolescent girls.

Hipsters Love To Write Corny, Facile Jokes

Stuff Hipsters Hate is potentially the douchiest blog since its spiritual godfather, Stuff White People Like. Hipsters hate high heels and washing their hair. White people like hummus and bicycles and hip hop references! I AM FUCKING HILARIOUS!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Away We Go is not that bad

I saw Away We Go the other night. A loose road movie about two people visiting friends in different parts of the country in an attempt to find a place to raise their child. The cultural buzz around it has been that it is a smug movie about hipsters and that it stinks. (See N+1, slate, NYT). All three reviews use the word "smug." I began the movie primed to see this (not least because I found "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" to be a self-involved book about very little, which was a pretty good summary of San Francisco at the turn of the millennium.). But ultimately think is not so I think this is unfair and overly simple.

The charges of smugness are largely based on the fact that John Krasinsky (The Office) and Maya Rudolph (SNL, Idiocracy) are perceived by critics to be deified and totally unmocked, whereas everyone they visit is shown to be a terrible person. This is a false dichotomy Burt is ridiculous and incompetent, but sweet. this is obvious. His visions of a "Huck Finn childhood" for the child show him to be as delusional as any other character. If you shaved off Krasinsky's beard and gave him different glasses, the charges of hipsterism would likely evaporate. If this is the case, as I believe it is, the charges of hipsterism are pretty flimsy.

As for the caricatures of the friends they visit, there are two important things that the reviewers miss. the first is the the caricatures are meant to show the way guest perceive their hosts (and vice versa) rather than how those people actually are. the scenes are funny insights into how pregnant every misspeak is in our extrapolating minds. They are also not the one-side snipefests that the critics declare. Krasinsky is clearly rude to his hosts in Madison, when he could easily have endured the dinner graciously. he is at fault socially, even if the scene is played for comedy.

The second is that the miscarrying Montreal family and the protagonists (mistaken by critics for blameless) are also ridiculous. the Montreal and their adopted brood are self-involved and affected too. and when rudolph gushes "I want that family," it shows clearly that she is not immune to the myth-making and self-delusion that all the characters, even the grotesques, share.

There are parts of the movie that miss. Rudolph's monologue about the plastic fruit tree is stilted and obviously misses the intended speech pattern of the writer, and there are a few bits of self-conscious quirk (e.g., the itinerary stapled to the jacket lining) that I could have lived without.

As for charges that the characters believe themselves to be uniquely special in a world of ogres, who does not believe this deep down? This is the charge against baby boomers. It is the charge against "navel gazing" Gen Xers. It is now the charge against highly-mediated Gen Y. This looks like an inherent trait to me. Perhaps the critics doth protest too much.

Hustle Beach

CSD's Chicagoland correspondents Crash Davis and Annie Savoy recommend a bar band called Baby Teeth, and their first music video, "Hustle Beach," has been posted online. Apparently, Crash and Annie walked into a bar in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, without realizing that the bar was hosting Baby Teeth's cd release party, which sounds as if it unfolded more or less exactly like the Kinky Wizards' cd release party at the end of High Fidelity, but without Jack Black's surprisingly bitchin' rendition of "Let's Get It On." Anyway, the video is a lot of fun, in a corny, early MTV, Hall & Oates meet Electric Lights Orchestra sort of way. Check it out:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Books Should Be Used. That's Why We're Buying Them."

The New York Times' blog City Room discusses the Brooklyn Public Library's policies for dealing with books deemed to be offensive for one reason or another, and its decision to leave Alan Moore's Lost Girls on in its shelves with other general-circulation graphic novels, despite concerns about its sexually explicit illustrations. Tintin au Congo, by the Belgian cartoonish Herge (with whom every introductory-level high school French student is familiar) wasn't so lucky; it ended up in a special section of the library, to which access is granted by appointment only.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should state that I am a huge fan of the Brooklyn Public Library, and am inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt on close judgment calls such as this one. Lost Girls isn't a comic book, it is a graphic novel aimed at adults, who are unlikely to be scandalized by the graphic nature of its sex scenes. Tintin, on the other hand, is a children's comic, and its depictions of Africans in the Congo, originally drawn in 1930, are regressive stereotypes. Even if you believe that it is generally good for people to read books that push their buttons - and I do - the redeeming artistic or literary merit of Tintin's artistic choices probably isn't great enough to justify their continued circulation, when (presumably) a significant portion of Brooklyn's population finds them to be offensive.

Racist stereotypes in children's entertainment aren't anything new - five years ago, when Warner Brothers released Looney Tuns on dvd, Jake Taylor and I were shocked at how offensive the Mexican, French, and even American southern stereotypes were. It was the Great Depression; people's views on race weren't as sophisticated as (I would like to think) they are today. Admittedly, those Looney Tunes shorts were so skillfully done that they are worth watching - even worth showing to children - despite their potentially offensive content. People can still read Tintin au Congo at the Brooklyn Public Library, they just have to specifically ask to see it, thus ensuring that somebody won't come across it accidentally and take offense at it. In a way, its no different than a bodega's decision to keep Hustler and Penthouse behind the counter, instead of on the newstand next to Time and Sports Illustrated. The BPL seems to have arrived at a compromise that allows Tintin's fans (of which there are undoubtedly many, even in Brooklyn - that comic is an institution in the French-speaking world) to read it, while avoiding as much unintentional exposure as possible. In a public library system that has to cater to the tastes of a diverse population of 2.5 million people, that seems to me to be about as good of a compromise as one can hope to strike.

Thanks to my blogmigo Ellen Wenecke for finding the article.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Heartless Bastards

If I told you that there was a young rock band out there that sounded like the Velvet Underground crossed with the Black Keys and the White Stripes, what would you say? This is the first song I've heard from Heartless Bastards, but if the rest of their music sounds this good then they can count on me becoming a regular customer.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Pussy Pilot Advisor-Lady Returns to CSD

I know I've posted this before, but its been a couple of years, and let's face it - this will never, ever get old. In particular, I love how this woman's tone and body language suggests that every sentence she utters is a pearl of hard-won wisdom, when in fact its crazy digressive bullshit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekend Links

The Onion AV Club's Steve Heissler has finished his review of the first season of The West Wing, and his high praise for the season finale reminds us of what we loved so much about that show the first time around.

From The New Yorker - Jeffrey Toobin's take on the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings was very good.

Our friends Crash Davis and Annie Savoy highly recommend Chicago-area rock band Baby Teeth, who sound like a contemporary ELO and may be about to break through to the big-time, and whose cd release party, held last weekend in Bucktown, sounds almost exactly like The Kinky Wizards' cd release party, but without the rockin' performance from Barry Jive and the Uptown Five.

CSD blogmigo Ellen the Wormbook sent me this article about books that made a difference to Jon Hamm. Of course Jon Hamm has good taste in books - what else would you expect from a former high school english teacher?

The Washington Post believes that saying goodbye is the most difficult part of writing an e-mail.

Lifehacker.com's guide to finding an apartment is a handy all-in-one-place resource.

And, finally, just because its awesome:
Band of Horses, "Is There A Ghost", live on David Letterman

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Should Have Known Better With A Girl Like You

Every once in a while, a pop songs blindsides you can knocks you off your feet. One song that has recently and unexpectedly become lodged in my brain is She & Him's "Sweet Darlin'," off of last year's Volume 1. With its Motown drumming, hand-clap percussion, and coo-ing harmonies, it sounds like it could easily have been the third-to-last song played at the 1966 Holy Angels Academy senior prom, and I mean that in the best way possible. I have played it about 25 times since hearing it for the first time last weekend, and will probably have to hear it at least 25 more before I get it out of my head.



When She & Him's Volume 1, hit stores last spring, I took notice, but not much else. After hearing a couple of their pleasant but by no means earth-shattering covers of "You Really Got A Hold On Me" and "I Should Have Known Better," I wrote off the pairing of M. Ward (a critically praised singer-songwriter) and doe-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel as just another (admittedly well-done) vanity project for a Hollywood actor who overestimated their considerable ability to coast by on charm alone - a better-produced sibling of the sort of crap that Bruce Willis and Eddie Murphy foisted upon the unsuspecting American public for decades. I've had a crush on Zooey Deschanel ever since she played William Miller's older sister in Almost Famous, and she has more musical talent than most big-name actors, but despite all of that and some favorable reviews I never took the music seriously on its own terms. I now see that I sold it short, and I'm glad I gave it a second chance.

Novel Advice

Puns are sloppy writing, but this unfortunately named article in this week's New York Magazine does a pretty fair job of discussing the most writer-friendly coffee shops in New York City.

I have been to all of the except for The Archive, and though I disagree with the article's results, as somebody who had done a significant amount of writing in coffeeshops over the past ten years I do think that the writer-friendliness of a cafe is an important consideration.

Though perhaps this is implied, the best coffee shops overall aren't necessarily the best coffee shops in which to write. A place like Brooklyn's Gorilla Coffee has mind-blowing coffee that can dehydrate a camel, good music and is full of people who look like they've had at least two submissions rejected by McSweeney's, but for all that it is a pretty awful place to write - bad acoustics (it sounds as if they are perpetually grinding beans right next to your ear), little elbow room and not enough outlets to go around. 4th Avenue's Root Hill Cafe has great coffee and baked goods, but has weird, vaguely IKEAish tables and chairs that look like they were kidnapped from Dr. No's island headquarters, making it difficult to get comfortable and write.

Think Coffee fared well on this list, and for good reason, but it is so writer-friendly that it is invariably full of very authorish people who write in their Moleskin notebooks between chapters of their Joan Didion and Michael Chabon novels, but they all look like such Bookworm Hipster Douchebags (it takes one to know one) that you end up wanting to punch yourself in the balls before you write another word. Its hard to find the right combination. Tea Lounge, which this article rated highest of all, is pretty nice on the weekends, but during the week gets invaded by The Park Slope Stroller Brigade of highly educated stay-at-home moms who get together after yoga to gossip and discuss celebrity break-ups and brag about how much money their husbands make or whatever the fuck it is that stay-at-home moms in Park Slope moms do all day long. So far, the best coffee shop I have found in Brooklyn is South Slope's Southside Coffee, the best analogy for which is probably Madison, Wisconsin's In the Company of Thieves, another writer-friendly place that's enormously underrated, unless you live in the near-east side 'grad student ghetto.' My favorite one in Manhattan is the Think Coffee on 2nd Avenue (not the one on Mercer).

What is your favorite coffee shop or cafe in which to write? What do you look for in a coffee shop, and what's the best one near where you live?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Weekend Links

The New York Times gives a very favorable review to Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy, by archaeologist, for Yale rower, and (I'm sure) all-around cool guy John Hale.

In New York Magazine, Will Leitch discusses why the New York Mets should make a run for Billy Beane, the

We like The PaperBackSwap, where you can mail people your old paperbacks that you don't want anymore and pick from millions of books to get in return. How did we now find out about this sooner?

The New Yorker's David Denby is surprisingly generous in his praise of Judd Apatow's Funny People.

We enjoyed The Onion A.V. Club's poll of 'celebrity BFFs.' Mine would be Jon Hamm and Paul Rudd - they just seem like cool guys; I think we'd hang really well together. The fact that they are both from the midwest and did not become stars until they were in their thirties is probably a big reason why.

"Sweet Darlin'", from She & Him's Volume 1 is the best 1960's girl-group song

And, finally, just because its awesome: a sweaty live version of The Thermals' "Pillar of Salt"

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The New Trailer For Where the Wild Things Are

There's a new trailer for the upcoming Spike Jonze/David Eggers adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. We're still pretty stoked:

Friday, August 7, 2009

New To You

I play music at my desk when I work late, and for some reason Jenny Lewis and The National always seem to be what fits my mood at that time of day. Six or seven of my colleagues have poked their head in to say good things about The National over the past couple of weeks - which is only odd because the band is from Brooklyn, their most recent album is more than two years old, and I have played it as late-night background music in my office ever since I started working at my current job in January of last year. I play Jenny Lewis almost as often, and though she isn't a local artist, she is probably more well-known in the big scheme of things. I play both of them on a regular basis, so it confuses me why people have only begun to notice them recently, but it has been cool to realize that a couple of albums I have played so often that I have every word memorized and don't hear anymore as live in like a favorite t-shirt can still move the uninitiated. It reminds me of how great it was to hear them for the first time, how I heard them at very particular points in my life when I needed to hear somebody say those words in their exact tones, and how seeing somebody going through the same experience at a different time and for different reason is one of the things I like most about pop music.

Also, it provides me with a good reason to post some of their great live performances. I know I post a lot of indie rock YouTube videos on this site, but if you trust my taste in music enough to read this blog then these two are going to be worth eight minutes of your time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Song For Summer

Here in New York, it has been overcast, rainy and humid for most of the last three months, but its still summer. The seasonal effect on mood has been well-documented, as is its effect on our taste in culture. There's a reason why plot-heavy popcorn movies are released between May and July, the serious Academy Award contenders are released in the winter, and why the shit that nobody wants to see and studios regret investing money in comes out during August's dog days of summer (G.I.Joe, I am looking in your direction).

Which brings us to Matt and Kim. This Brooklyn band is about as hipster as it gets - they met as students at the Pratt Institute, their numerous New York-centric references all involve Williamsburg and Bushwick, and their entire mise-en-scene - the constant smiling, the intentionally dated-sounding synthesizers, the performance art aspects of their the White Stripes-meets-Spike Jonze-meets-Juno style of making music videos - seems designed to make people want to go out and punch a hipster, but for some reason the video really works, and their performance at last month's Pitchfork music festival - they closed with a (sadly) dry ice and moonwalk-free cover of Europe's "The Final Countdown" - won over a lot of difficult-to-impress critics.

A steady diet of Matt & Kim would be pretty difficult to take, but I picked up their album about a week ago and it has made surprisingly good get-up-and-start-your-day music so far - the sort of thing to put a spring in your step on a sunny summer day. Its a lot of fun, and ten dollars well spent, even if its shelf live won't extend through the fall.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Context Is Not Forever

I laughed along with everybody else when this video of a Minnesota wedding party's choreographed walk down the aisle became a viral hit a couple of weeks ago. Its the sort of thing that would strike me as corny and cliched if it wasn't so well-done, so heartfelt and so full of joy. Even the slow-motion breakdown was awesome. Unfortunately, when I first watched it, I didn't realize that the song to which they chose to dance was "Forever," by Chris Brown, an r&b singer best known for . . . being a notorious domestic abuser who beat the shit out of Rhianna and threatened to kill her, then offering a ghost-written, pre-recorded public apology that was one of the more offensive things I have seen in years.

The video's popularity led to a resurgence in the song's popularity, which means that internet video of one of the more joyous wedding celebrations I have ever seen directly helped to line the pockets of one of a (common-law) wife-beater. Jill and Kevin's used the song before Chris Brown was arrested for beating Rhianna to a bloody pulp, so they could not have known that they were using a song that will forever be linked in the minds of its listeners to domestic violence, but that doesn't make the irony and less cruel.

Then, a couple of days ago I decided to watch the video again (call me a softie) and I found that Jill and Kevin, aware of the new context in which their wedding video will be viewed, have set up a foundation to the Sheila Wellstone Institute, domestic violence charity in their native St. Paul, Minnesota. Isn't that a cool thing for them to do? I don't know who Jill and Kevin are, or if those are even their real names, but they are an impressive young couple.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Slow Blogging Week

Loyal readers: Posting has been light this week, because I am apartment hunting Common Sense Dancing is relocating its headquarters, and, in New York City, the search for real estate that isn't grotesquely miscategorized or overpriced is exhaustive to say the least. But its not all bad; a long afternoon walk in search of apartments led me through three beautiful brownstone neighborhoods, provided hours of great sight-seeing and people-watching, and some bitchingly good books and cds for a couple of bucks at stoop sales and the Brooklyn Flea. Along the way, I ducked into a couple of coffee shops for refreshments, and found them both to be the sort of places I would have travelled to get to when I lived in cities less full of cozy coffee shops than downtown Brooklyn. Everything - two iced coffees, a pastry, 3 paperbacks, and 4 cds cost me $20, or the price of a one-way cab ride to 14th Street in Manhattan.

To be certain, a lot of people would look at this afternoon and say that it represents all of the cliche aspects of Brooklyn's gentrification, but even if that's true, how is that bad in any way? These neighborhoods are gorgeous, and a tree-lined respite from the square miles of shimmering blacktop that make up the rest of the city. They should be full of people who take care of them and are proud to live there.