Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You Can Go to Bobst, But You Can't Stay Here

As appears in today's issue of the New School Free Press

With finals and other end-of-the-school year hubbub right around the corner, it will soon be time for students to begin their annual camping out in the University Computer Center. So, I decided that for the next 17 hours, I would stay at 55 W. 13th St., first in the UCC, and the rest downstairs in the Student Activity Space (SAA) or the lobby.

Recently, the University Student Senate passed a bill that makes the lobby and SAA open 24 hours from Monday through Thursday, with extended hours during the weekend.

Hendrick Cho, chair of the University Student Senate, said, “Since the beginning of the school year, many graduate students have lobbied to keep their buildings open 24 hours for the purpose of studying.”

I arrived just after 5 p.m. on a Monday, and the UCC was already jam packed with Lang students working on essays, Jazz kids using the printers for whatever reason Jazz kids would use a printer for, Parsons folk doing confusing Parsons things, and one girl who seemed to be watching a making-of documentary of The Pursuit of Happyness.

When I’m at the UCC, I’m typically so focused on my work that I never stop to look around, but now that I’ve got nothing but time, I take a glance. Most people look frustrated and dejected, those eating glance suspiciously around so as not to be caught, and everyone slouches like Hans Moleman.

Around 7 p.m., my back begins to ache for the first time due to said slouching, and the feeling of being stuck in this giant room with gloomy artwork creeps in (I mean, have you ever *really* looked at the giant mural right by the K and L sections in the corner? It looks like the mind of an insane person). It was also around this time that someone began to talk loudly, and even with headphones on, it was rather annoying. Now I know how the rest of those working in the UCC feels when us New School Free Press people are closing the newspaper…

As the hours went by, so did my iPod battery life. I began my stay with Radiohead, followed it with the Smiths, moved over to the Kinks, and the rest is a musical blur that only my iTunes’ “Recently Played” will ever know.

A little after 10, the place is still pretty packed, mostly with Parsons’ students working on Macs. I keep waiting for something exciting to happen, like someone pulling a fire alarm or screaming, “Die!,” but then I remember, I’m in a computer center. On a Monday night. Nothing exciting ever happens in a computer center on a Monday night.

For temporary relief from boredom, I looked through the previously saved documents on the computer I’m using, M02. The first thing I find is an analysis of A Streetcar Named Desiree that is neither entertaining nor interesting. After wading through some bad student scripts, I find a letter someone wrote to NYU, which is where, I guess, they want to transfer to. Traitor!

At 11:30, the UCC closes, and while most students go home, some go to the SAA or work on the desk in the lobby.

For the next few hours, things remain quiet. Students either work on their laptops, sketch out drawings on large sheets of paper, or watch television in the SAA, including an E! True Hollywood Story on Will Smith in which I learn more about the Fresh Prince’s beginnings than any person should know.

I ask a few students why they’re here, and most give essentially the same answer: "I live far away.” “I have an early class tomorrow.” “I have work to do.” “It’s easier to stay here."

At 2 a.m., things finally get interesting. The security guard working the lobby comes into the SAA to tell us that the building is shutting down. If this had been a few hours earlier, people would have been in an uproar, but at this time, most people seem too tired to really care. But, there are a few who are upset, myself included.

We gather around the security guard, and explain that students received e-mails (and those hideous pink flyers around campus) saying that the lobby and SAA are supposed to be open 24 hours.

The security guard doesn’t seem to know quite what to answer with. A few times, I hear her say, “Yeah, I have no idea what’s going on” and “This is so confusing.” Next to her, the midnight security supervisor was explaining to some students that he didn’t know why those e-mails were sent, something about a fire warden not being there, and other non-answers.

On my way out, I ask the security guard on duty what it’s like working the late shift, and she says, “Babe, it’s not easy.”

A few days later, I received an e-mail from Gabrielle Sbano, the Assistant Director of Security, who wrote, “On the night you were present…[the midnight security supervisor] incorrectly interpreted that e-mail to mean that the first floor would be closing this week, and that it would be open 24 hours starting on April 27 as well.”

Sbano added, “I spoke to him the other night and he understands now that the first floor will be open 24 hours a day for students.”

In short: my plan to stay all night was disrupted because a security supervisor couldn’t correctly read a rather simple flyer or e-mail, making students either walk to Bobst if they wanted to continue to work or take the subway at 2 a.m.

Kate Griffin, a member of the USS and one of the students who had to leave the building, told me, “As a newly elected senator, I really feel like the students need to be better represented.”

She added, “The university needs to live up to its promises.”

By the time this article is published, the 24-hour cycle will be in affect for both the SAA and UCC, but on that early Tuesday morning, nearly a dozen students weren’t able to finish their expected stay, their homework, or their wondering of what spending nearly a full day at Arnhold Hall feels like. For shame, New School. For shame.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Why U2 Sucks

As will appear in tomorrow's issue of the New School Free Press

Last week, Daniel Lanois, producer-extraordinaire, told a Canadian radio station that U2 is working on a new album that'll be out for the fall, with production credit going to him and Brian Eno.

Is it wrong that I'm more excited about Lanois and Eno together than about the actual album they're producing?

Well, no, because U2 is, simply put, the most overrated band of all-time.

There are certain artists and bands that get way too much credit, critically or commercially (I'm looking at you, Elton John). But to be overrated, both of those criteria must be met, meaning critics need to rave about them and they've also got to sell millions of albums.

U2's songs revolve around Bono's howling and his emphasizing every word he sings, Adam Clayton's boring bass lines, Larry Mullen, Jr.'s non-descript drumming, and The Edge's chiming guitar work that sounds good in a arena, but has very little substance or emotion.

In 2004, Rolling Stone called them the 22nd greatest band of all-time (ahead of bands like the Band), and they've sold over 170 million albums worldwide, resulting in higher sales than Bob Dylan by well over 50 million.

But that doesn't mean they don't suck.

Where does this near-universal success come from? I'll admit that I like War but that's because it’s easy to digest. Tracks like "Elevation" and "One" don't require much thought, and sound catchy on the radio. Those songs, and many others in their catalogue, are horribly derivative and haven't introduced any new ideas to rock.

Universal messages of love, peace, and freedom help U2's overrated cause. There are very few instances where something Bono writes makes you stop and think because most of his lyrics are like this: "I threw the dice when they pierced his side/But I've seen love conquer the great divide." Bono is, of course, referring to Jesus, a common theme in his lyrics.

U2 also lucked out and formed at exactly the right time. Their first album, Boy, was released in 1980, a time when good rock 'n' roll was becoming increasingly hard to find on the radio. But just because they filled a void doesn't mean they should be listened to nearly three decades later.

A band also should be measured by whom they’ve inspired, and the bands they’ve inspired include the Killers and Coldplay, who are essentially U2, Part Deux. And terrible.

The next time you hear someone call U2 the "most important and influential band of the post-punk era," as MSNBC.com did, punch them in the face. Or just say to them, as Stan Marsh tells Bono on South Park, "At some point, can't you just kinda…fuck off?"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

How to Run a Newspaper

As last night was the final closing for the New School Free Press this year, I feel that some great newspaper clips should be shown, and outside of Newsies, what's a better newspaper movie than Citizen Kane?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Most of yesterday and essentially all day today, I'll be busy working on the semester's final issue of the New School Free Press. I began the year as a simple copy editor and staff writer, and will end it with the aspiration of becoming next year's Editor-in-Chief.

But, outside of that, I'm very happy to report that I bought two tickets to see these wonderful lads from Chicago on August 13 in Brooklyn:

Yes, only a week after my birthday, Nadia and I will be going to see Wilco. With her going to Boston in early-September for grad school, it'll be something to look forward to and a nice near end-of-the-summer activity. After all, I guess if we were to have "a song," it'll probably be "Jesus, Etc." from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot:

Tall buildings shake
Voices escape, singing sad sad songs
Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around

Voices whine
Skyscrapers are scraping together
Your voice is smoking
Last cigarettes are all you can get
Turning your orbit around

Oh, and as long as my Facebook birthday alerts aren't telling me inaccurate information, I'd like to wish a happy birthday to Unkie Ken, the creator of the great Mr. Ken Kurp.

Also born today is Ella Fitzgerald, and also lost this day is the great Bobby "Boris" Pickett, who passed away last year.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

She & Showalter

The last two nights have been good to me.

On Tuesday, my friend Kayley and I went to see She & Him at Webster Hall, a band composed of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. I wasn't sure what to expect of the concert, so I was pleasantly surprised of how good it was. Although Zooey couldn't talk between songs (she was sick and didn't want to lose any more of her singing voice), when she was singing, it sounded fantastic. She sounds like a slightly more burlesque Linda Thompson, and I mean that as a compliment. Throughout the set, she was really nervous but still at the peak of the adorable-scale, if such a thing were to exist. Frankly, even if the show had been bad, I would have been happy just to look at her for an hour.

Here are some pictures I took:

Last night, Kayley, my girlfriend Nadia, and I had the pleasure of seeing Michael Showalter at the Upright Citizen's Theater Brigade. He's one of my favorite comedians (mostly because of Stella and Wet Hot American Summer), and one of the very few that I'd pay money to see. After a great show, the three of us waited outside for a few minutes, hoping that Showalter would come out. Thankfully, he did, and I asked if I could get a picture with them. He said yes, and after Nadia took the picture, he also took ones with her and Kayley.

Gotta love New York.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Five Best...Songs from Oh Mercy

#5. "Man in the Long Black Coat"

There's smoke on the water, it's been there since June,
Tree trunks uprooted, 'neath the high crescent moon
Feel the pulse and vibration and the rumbling force
Somebody is out there beating the dead horse.
She never said nothing there was nothing she wrote,
She gone with the man
In the long black coat.

#4. "Political World"

We live in a political world
In the cities of lonesome fear,
Little by little you turn in the middle
But you're never why you're here.

#3. "Ring Them Bells"

Ring them bells St. Catherine
From the top of the room,
Ring them from the fortress
For the lilies that bloom.
Oh the lines are long
And the fighting is strong
And they're breaking down the distance
Between right and wrong.

#2. "Most of the Time"

Most of the time
My head is on straight,
Most of the time
I'm strong enough not to hate.
I don't build up illusion 'till it makes me sick,
I ain't afraid of confusion no matter how thick
I can smile in the face of mankind.
Don't even remember what her lips felt like on mine
Most of the time.

#1. "Shooting Star"

Listen to the engine, listen to the bell
As the last fire truck from hell
Goes rolling by, all good people are praying,
It's the last temptation
The last account
The last time you might hear the sermon on the mount,
The last radio is playing.Listen to the engine, listen to the bell
As the last fire truck from hell
Goes rolling by, all good people are praying,
It's the last temptation
The last account
The last time you might hear the sermon on the mount,
The last radio is playing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Your Life: TBA

As appeared in last week's New School Free Press.

When New School students received their fall 2008 course schedule packet, some students were surprised to see the number of TBAs and lack of class times and locations.

"I feel that it's really irresponsible of the school to not have the information we need," said Lang sophomore Terésa Franco. "And the information we get isn't very well organized."

Administrators and faculty acknowledged that the course registration system has been slow, and that this lag has complicated student registration. Administrators point to a myriad of problems behind the system, including late hiring of full-time faculty, a complicated scheduling system, and a lack of classroom space, due to the scheduled demolition of the 65 5th Ave. building in July.

As of press time, the online figures listed 50 courses with TBA as a professor, 24 without a date and or time, and 3 courses with neither. The printed schedule had 36 TBAs, 10 classes without date or time, and 13 classes with neither.

Those figures do not include senior project and ULEC courses.

According to Larry Jackson, Academic Coordinator in the Associate's Dean Office, there are 400-500 courses listed online, including Independent Studies and Senior Work classes.

"We're in the process of hiring full-time faculty," said Associate Dean of Lang Kathleen Breidenbach in an interview. "We're either still negotiating with them, or we're still working on getting information with them, so we might not know days and times."

She added, "They're not in the system, so we can't attach them to the courses."

In the writing department, the TBAs are there mainly "due to the hiring of new full-time professors," Breidenbach said, which includes Marco Roth and Mark Greif.

The New School has been hiring more full-time faculty because of increased revenue and a larger student body, which allows stability with courses being offered semester and after semester, according to Breidenbach.

"I would estimate that we are up to 500 or 600 changes since having first submitted the Schedule Builder," said Jackson, referring to the program used to arrange course information, including professors, dates, times, and credits given.

Jackson added that another complication this year is space issues, due to the 65 5th Ave. building coming down and, as Jackson said, "The University is not trying to obtain additional space for classes until we've shown that we've used all available space."

In separate interviews, both Breidenbach and Jackson advised students to find their courses online, rather than using the paper schedule.

Through all the problems with registering, Breidenbach says that the process is still better than the way Lang used to be six years ago.

"The year before I got here," she said, "everything was done on paper, and all students would gather in Tishman with the faculty, and the faculty would present their courses, with the student's names being called out, and they'd go up and say what their registration choices were."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Don't Pass(over) Me By

I did a Leo's Lyrics search for "Passover," and there were only five songs that showed up. Here they are:

Hannukah ain’t that sober,
So you don’t passed over.
So get your ass over to my pad,
It’s Passover.


The brook
Time it is at hand
Obscure the facts
A passion play

-Blind Guardian

But no Passover is planned
A great renewal growls at hand
And only when they're running
Will they come to understand,
So ends the pitiful reign of Man

-Cradle of Filth

The eye in the triangle smiling with sin
No Passover feast for the cursed within

-Iron Maiden

There was another song called "The Shitagogue" by Grand Belial's Key that I didn't post the lyrics to because they're too offensive even for me.

What terrible, terrible songs. I think I'll stick with a Passover rendition of "Eight Days a Week."

And there's also always this:

But seriously, have a happy Passover everyone.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Havin' a Party

One of my best friends turns 23 today, so I dedicate this to them:

It's a giant among clichés
And that's why I want to sing it anyway
Sing me "Happy Birthday"
Only 'cause hell, what's it all about anyway?

-Andrew Bird

You also get this picture of Christian Bale:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Five Best...Songs from The Crane Wife by the Decemberists

#5. "The Crane Wife 1 & 2"

We were poorly, our fortunes fading hourly
And how she loved me, she could bring it back
But I was greedy, I was vain and I forced her to weaving
On a cold loom, in a closed room down the hall

#4. "Sons and Daughters"

Take up your arm
Sons and daughters
We will arise from the bunkers
By land, by sea, by dirigible
We'll leave our tracks untraceable now

#3. "The Island: Come and See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel the Drowning"

The tides will come and go
With this bare waking eye
Who rose like the wind
Though we know for sure
Amidst this fading light
We'll not go home again
Come and see
Come and see

#2. "The Crane Wife 3"

And under the boughs unbowed
All clothed in a snowy shroud
She had no heart so hardened
All under the boughs unbowed

#1. "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)"

When I was a girl how the hills of Oconee
Made a seam to hem me in
There at the fair when our eyes caught, careless
Got my heart right pierced by a pin

But oh, did you see all the dead of Manassas
All the bellies and the bones and the bile
Though I lingered here with the blankets barren
And my own belly big with child

(The Decemberists, and specifically Colin Meloy, are one of the most unique bands out there, and also one of the best. I honestly believe that in 30 years, they'll be one of the few current groups that people will still be listening to in the same way people still listen to Bob Dylan or Neil Young.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I Forgot To Remember to Forget Sarah Marshall

When does it become unfair to rate a movie based on its predecessors? Does Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom suffer because of how great Raiders of the Lost Ark is?

More recently, should every movie with Judd Apatow’s name on it be judged against The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad, three nearly perfect contemporary comedies?

In the case of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll find yourself falling victim to “What would Steve Carell/Seth Rogen/Michael Cera have done in this situation?” but luckily, even while wondering that, the film holds its own and its male star, Jason Segel, fits into the role of the Judd Apatow Male fantastically.

The movie tells the tale of TV composer Peter Bretter (Segel of Freaks & Geeks fame, and also wrote the movie’s screenplay) who gets dumped by his actress/girlfriend, the now-famous-name Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell, from the sadly-canceled-before-its-time Veronica Mars). In response, Peter goes to Hawaii looking for relaxation and to get Sarah off his mind, but, of course, she’s staying at the same hotel he is with her Oasis-esque boyfriend (Russell Brand), and the two ex-lovers compete throughout.

But while staying at the hotel, Peter falls for another woman, Rachel Jansen (Mila Kunis), and the competition goes to a whole other level, including a very literal sexcapades competition.

Bell, Kunis (who has never looked more attractive) and Brand each play their role well, but it’s Segel who plays it best. Whether rocking out in sweatpants yelling Gandalf quotes or singing a very heartfelt rendition of “Dracula’s Lament” from his Dracula musical with puppets (the highlight of the film), you really feel for Segel in the same way you felt for his character on Freaks & Geeks, Nick Andopolis. He’s never annoying in his pity, and is an actor who can do both comedy and drama very well.

Segel also delivers a mostly solid script with only a few mistakes along the way, like a regrettable scene involving two characters humping chess pieces and just one too many penis jokes (a sentence I never thought I’d utter either). But the bad is forgotten with all the good, especially with all the scenes from the show Peter and Sarah work on, Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime (be sure to stay during the credits to see another clip with Bell and Jason Bateman, from the amazing Arrested Development).

At times, Marshall can also feel a bit too conventional; Sarah’s character is obviously not right for Peter, of course they’d be staying in the same hotel, and some of the characters are a little shallow and seem just thrown into the mix. The film also occasionally lingers over to Rom-Com at territory, but stays mostly away from that most unfortunate of genres, due to the much-needed vulgarity of it (Bill Hader: “You don’t need to put your P in a V right now” Jason Segel: “No, I need to B my L on someone’s T’s.”)

Like most any Apatow show or movie, there’s a fantastic supporting cast, including Paul Rudd, former New School student Jonah Hill, the great Bill Hader from SNL, 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer and, for all fans of Undeclared, another show starring Segel and created by Apatow, Lizzie makes a much-appreciated appearance.

Maybe viewers have come to expect a movie with Judd Apatow’s name attached to it to be great, with the success both critically and financially of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad. But while Sarah Marshall is good, it’s not great.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Livin' La Vida '90s

As will appear in Tuesday's issue of the New School Free Press

Nostalgia is just plain weird. It can make boring things seem interesting, and interesting things seem boring, and music benefits greatly from it because it's easy to romanticize. Maybe that’s why, for current and recent college students, there seems to be almost an obsession with music from the 1990s.

While bands like Sugar Ray, Will Smith and Marcy Playground might not make it onto anyone's Favorite Music list on Facebook, everyone between the ages of 18-25 knows "Fly," "Getting’ Jiggy Wit It" and "Sex and Candy," possibly the most popular songs for those three bands.

Why is that? It's because we lived through it. While we can only fantasize about the 1960s while listening to the Who, we can distinctly remember being on a school bus to middle school and hearing "My Heart Will Go On" on the radio.

Or maybe that's just me.

I've been to countless parties where "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M. got people singing. I can't count the number of times a discussion about Oasis' "Wonderwall" has come up. And don't even get me started on "Two Princes" by the Spin Doctors…

The romanticizing of music by decade is quite the phenomenon. While the 1960s had some of the greatest bands of all time (the Beatles, the Stones, etc.), people forget that the decade also produced some absolute dreck like the Archies and Donovan. The same goes for the '90s, for while there were some great, influential bands worth remembering like Sonic Youth, Pavement and Radiohead, let's not forget that the following bands and artists also had their glory then: C & C Music Factory, Sixpence None the Richer, Dee-Lite, S Club 7, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and, of course, blink-182.

It doesn't seem possible to idealize the group that wrote "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," but it's not so much about the song as it is remembering the song during elementary or middle school.

Vh1 recently came up with a list (surprise, surprise) of the greatest songs from 1990s, with "Smells like Teen Spirit" at the top, followed by "One" and "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys, "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston, and Madonna's "Vogue" rounding out the top five. While I admit the occasional guilty pleasure for those BSB songs, none of those choices are particularly musically relevant (or good) outside of "Teen Spirit.” But they do showcase the two genres that the ‘90s will be remembered for: pop and grunge rock.

While not my favorite musical decade (on a Five Best list, it'd be fourth), I do have a strong emotional attachment to the ‘90s. It's partially due to the quality of some bands, but it's mostly because I can remember being there.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What a (Theme) Time

This past week, Bob Dylan won a Pulitzer and had a profile about his Theme Time Radio Hour in Vanity Fair. What a week!

Well, I doubt he cares about the Pulitzer (and frankly, neither do I), but the article in Vanity is an impressive account of how many times Dylan has played certain artists on his radio show (George Jones leads the pack with nine, while Tom Waits has eight), and the lessons learned if you listen to the show, like How to Hang Drywall.

The article also has some of Dylan's best Theme Time quotes, including:

“All of our shows are for truckers, if not about truckers.”

“The harmonica is the world’s best-selling musical instrument. You’re welcome.”

Re: Howlin’ Wolf, “This next song is entirely without flaw and meets all the supreme standards of excellence.”

“I always liked songs with parentheses in the title.”

Re: Leadbelly, “One of the few ex-cons who recorded a popular children’s album.”

“John Lee...one of those guys that always sounds better without a band. Thirteen bars here, eleven bars there, nine there. Doesn’t matter to him. Nobody can do more with less than John Lee Hooker.”

“I don’t trust a man who doesn’t tear up a little watching Old Yeller.”

Thanks for those, Bob.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Five Best...Songs from Transformer

#5. "Satellite of Love"

I've been told that you've been bold
With Harry, Mark and John
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to Thursday
With Harry, Mark and John

#4. "Vicious"

When I watch you come, baby, I just want to run far away
You're not the kind of person around I want to stay
When I see you walking down the street
I step on your hands and I mangle your feet
You're not the kind of person that I want to meet
Baby, oh you're so vicious, you're so vicious

#3. "Andy's Chest"

Yesterday, Daisy Mae and Biff were grooving down the street
And just like in a movie, her hands became her feet
Her belly button was her mouth
Which meant she tasted what she’d speak
But the funny thing is what happened to her nose
It grew until it reached all of her toes
Now, when people say her feet smell, they mean her nose

#2. "Hangin' 'Round"

Cathy was a bit surreal, she painted all her toes
And on her face she wore dentures clamped tightly to her nose
And when she finally spoke her twang her glasses broke
And no one else could smoke while she was in the room

#1. "Perfect Day"

Just a perfect day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was
Someone else, someone good

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Amazin' Astley (and the Mets)

Beginning last year, the New York Mets played “Sweet Caroline” for a Sing-a-Long before the eighth inning at Shea Stadium. The only problem is that…the Red Sox already use that song for essentially the same purpose.

This year, the Mets allowed fans to vote for what should be the new song, and here were the choices:

As you can see from the “Other” choice, there’s already a filled in selection, courtesy of Gothamist: “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. Here’s what I wrote about Astley’s video for that song in August:

One of the great two-hit wonders (thank you, reader) from the 1980s would have to be Rick Astley. While that name might not ring a bell, his picture probably will. His hit was "Never Gonna Give You Up" and the most striking thing about it is that...he sounds black. Yes, the pasty, ginger kid sounds like a black soul singer—one with a limited amount of rhythm, but it's still rather impressive.

The websites FARK.com and Digg.com launched a campaign to get “Never Gonna Give You Up” to be the Shea Stadium choice, and they’ve gotten over five million people to vote for it. That’s very impressive—even if most of them aren’t Mets fans, but rather fans of Astley and the Rickroll, which Wikipedia describes as:

“A prank and Internet meme involving the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song "Never Gonna Give You Up". In a rickroll, a person provides a link they claim is relevant to the topic at hand which actually takes the user to the Astley video. It can also mean playing the song loudly in public in order to be disruptive. A person who falls for the prank is said to be "rickrolled". In some cases, this term is also used to describe a person who merely hears the song.”

During today's opening day (the final at Shea Stadium), they'll play Astley's tune before the eighth, followed by “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi tomorrow, “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees on Thursday, Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” on Friday, “Sweet Caroline” on Saturday, and “Build Me Up Buttercup” on Sunday.

None of those songs do much for me, but in terms of guilty pleasures (especially when singing along with 50,000 other Mets fans), I voted for, what else?, "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Monday, April 7, 2008


Here's a post from Noter, one of my favorite blogs by one of my favorite people, Peter Holslin:

Josh Kurp, Five Best impresario and Copy Chief for [the] New School Free Press (ooh, and contender for next year's Editor-in-Chief), just e-mailed me and some others an mp3 of "Good Ship Venus," a delightful and bawdy sailor's tune. Going by title alone, the song struck me as the precursor to Shirley Temple's "On the Good Ship, Lollipop." Kurp wrote back, "Peter, Peter, Peter, if you knew anything about Shirley Temple, you'd know the 'Good Ship Lollipop' refers to an airplane." True, true! I saw the video! But you see, that only proves my point further - here we see the modern "Good Ship Venus" of the industrial age, naturally sapped of its original aura (i.e. sex on the boat). Thoughts?

Here's "Good Ship Venus," also known as "Friggin' on the Riggin'," and here's "Good Ship Lollipop." I posted Peter's entry from yesterday in order to hear opinions from all over the "blogosphere," as it has come to be known.

I'm proud to say that I've never seen a film with Shirley Temple in it (although I did see the episode of The Simpsons where Shirley Temple gets eaten by King Kong while she's singing, what else?, "Good Ship Lollipop"), and that I can find the verse below hilarious:

The captain's wife was Charlotte,
Born and bred a harlot,
Her thighs at night were lily white,
By morning they were scarlet.

For what it's worth, the Sex Pistols did a cover of "Friggin'," which can be found here. It's not that great, but I like how they change the song's melody. And pretty much everything about the song.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What Can You Mach? [1925]

A few weeks ago, my Modern Jewish Literature played this song by A. Lebedeff and A. Olshanetsky during class, and it left quite the impression on me. I had no idea what was being said until the professor showed us the lyrics, but damn, with vocals like those, who needs to understand what's being said?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Five Best...Songs from Sticky Fingers

#5. "Sister Morphine"

Well it just goes to show
Things are not what they seem
Please, Sister Morphine, turn my nightmares into dreams
Oh, can't you see I'm fading fast?
And that this shot will be my last

#4. "I Got the Blues"

As I sit by the fire
Of your warm desire
I've got the blues for you, yeah

#3. "Bitch"

I'm feeling drunk, juiced up and sloppy
Ain't touched a drink all night
I'm feeling hungry, can't see the reason
Just ate a horse meat pie

#2. "Dead Flowers"

Take me down little Susie, take me down
I know you think you're the queen of the underground
And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won't forget to put roses on your grave

#1. "Wild Horses"

I watched you suffer a dull aching pain
Now you decided to show me the same
No sweeping exits or offstage lines
Could make me feel bitter or treat you unkind

Friday, April 4, 2008

Like a Rolling Stones

David Hinckley of the Daily News today posted his list of the 12 best Rolling Stones songs, in honor of the release of Scorsese's new documentary, Shine a Light. It looks like this:

1. "It's All Over Now"
2. "Wild Horses"
3. "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
4. "The Last Time"
5. "No Expectations"
6. "Play With Fire"
7. "The Spider and the Fly"
8. "Dead Flowers"
9. "Angie"
10. "Tumbling Dice"
11. "Dear Doctor"
12. "She Said Yeah"

It's quite refreshing to see a Stones' list that doesn't include "Satisfaction" or "Brown Sugar," which are both good songs but not great ones either.

In response, here are my Ten Best...Rolling Stones' songs:

1. “Wild Horses”
2. “Sympathy for the Devil”
3. “Paint It Black”
4. “Gimme Shelter”
5. “Let It Bleed”
6. “Dead Flowers”
7. “Loving Cup”
8. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
9. “Mother’s Little Helpers”
10. “The Spider and the Fly”

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Preserve the Village Green

Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do?

There are very few lyrics in rock 'n' roll that are better and more chilling than Ray Davies' in "The Village Green Preservation Society." They mean as much as now as they did 1968—although I can't really imagine how much of a shock it must have been when the Kinks' Village Green came out, due to how different it sounds from their previous material like "You Really Got Me" (although there was a sign of their changing style with songs like "Waterloo Sunset,” another of the finest rock songs ever). I suppose said shock must have been similar to the one given by Bob Dylan with the release of John Wesley Harding, almost exactly a year before.

Instead of indulging on overblown rock, the Kinks (and Dylan, for that matter) took themselves back to a place where they were asking God to "save little shops, china cups and virginity." Not very rock 'n' roll, but the Kinks were in the for long haul, meaning that their albums sound better and less dated now than most from that time period.

While all of Village Green is fantastic, the truly standout songs are the title track, "Picture Book," and "Village Green." The last of those songs shouldn't be confused with "Preservation Society," although they do have similar themes.

In "Village Green," Davies sings:

And now all the houses are rare antiquities
American tourists flock to see the Village Green
They snap their photographs and say, "Gawd darn it,
Isn't it a pretty scene?"

Again, it's a song about the preservation of the old, a rare theme in rock. But it goes to show that Ray Davies (and the rest of the Kinks) could write a song for the ages about the ages.

That's something to preserve.

Five Best…Songs from The Village Green Preservation Society

#5. “Johnny Thunder”

Though everybody tried their best,
Old Johnny vowed that he would never, ever end up like the rest.
Johnny Thunder rides the highway, moves like lightning.
But sweet Helena just says, "God bless Johnny."

#4. “People Take Pictures of Each Other”

You can't picture love that you took from me,
When we were young and the world was free.
Pictures of things as they used to be,
Don't show me no more, please.

#3. “Picture Book”

A picture of you in your birthday suit,
You sat in the sun on a hot afternoon.
Picture book, your mama and your papa, and fat old Uncle Charlie
Out boozing with their friends.
Picture book, a holiday in August,
Outside a bed and breakfast in sunny Southend.
Picture book, when you were just a baby, those days when you were happy,
A long time ago

#2. “Village Green”

I miss the Village Green,
And all the simple people.
I miss the Village Green,
The church, the clock, the steeple.
I miss the morning dew, fresh air and Sunday school.

#1. “The Village Green Preservation Society”

We are the Village Green Preservation Society
God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Music to Road Trip By

As appears in today's issue of the New School Free Press

During Spring Break, my girlfriend, Nadia, and I took a road trip down to Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, towns known for their blues and country music, respectively. Of course, on a trip like this, we'd need a lot of music for the nearly 20 hour drive to the mid-South.

Music on a road trip (especially when traveling nearly 3,000 miles) is as essential as the gas you put in your car. It's what keeps the driver awake when passengers sleep; it distracts from potentially awkward silences that could last for hours; and it's also just fun to sing along in the car with other people.

As Nadia doesn't have her license, I bore all of the driving responsibilities. So while she could sit reading her Cormac McCarthy in peace, I was left to concentrate on the road and consequentially had more control and mainly chose the music.

At 5 a.m. on Saturday, we began our trip with an epic song: "Hands Down" by Dashboard Confessional. I realize I'm putting all musical credibility on the line here, but it does really wake you up at that ungodly hour, mostly due to the hilarious sincerity of the song.

Nadia and I lucked out because a few weeks before our trip, one of our favorite bands, Wilco, performed five concerts in Chicago, performing every song on their studio releases. She downloaded the concerts, put them on her iPod, and we had roughly 150 songs to go through. I'll never forget the moment when I heard "Remember the Mountain Bed" performed during concert #3. Nadia was sleeping and I was fading, but when Jeff Tweedy began to sing, "Do you still sing of the mountain bed we made of limbs and leaves?," I was alert and completely immersed, as if I was in Chicago, not driving through North Carolina.

Having something like the Wilco concerts is great for a road trip because there's a common theme in the music, and a sense of accomplishment when you've gone through all the songs, like finishing a book.

Being in Memphis was perfect for a music lover, and I found a fantastic radio station: WEVL 89.9. In the span of two days, I heard Tom Waits, Ma Rainey, Hank Williams and Big Joe Turner, among many others. If you're going to be in a city for more than a single day, finding a great radio station is the best because you'll hear new music and it won't drain the battery on your iPod plugged into the cigarette lighter.

On the way home, the only thing keeping me going in the final hour was Derek and the Dominos and Traffic (especially "The Low-Spark of High-Heeled Boys") because by that point, I needed some of my favorite music for stamina, and that's what good road trip music should do: giving you something to concentrate on while you're driving through rural Ohio, passing Burger King #2,340.