The Hotelier: It Never Goes Out

It Never Goes OutI feel like someone is going to pop out any second and knock my iPhone from my hand while listening to this album and scream, “What the fuck are you listening to, you fucking pussy and your emo shit!” And then I’ll be ashamed that I really dig these guys, but poo-poo those who came before them in the pop-punk/emo genre. Because, at the end of the pain (that’s a very emo reference), these things are not so much different. But what makes it ok for me to bop my head and admire the group choruses screaming “We are the same!” and a lead singer who’s all of fifteen singing “You can’t fix me because I’m so burnt out.” I mean, seriously kid. Then there are lyrics that smack of R.E.M. and the The Get Up Kids and other touchpoints of being tired in a young body. You wonder how these things happen. This heartache. This need to get away from a situation which has barely had the opportunity to mature. It seems that the band’s lead singer was almost pre-destined to be a singer in a band like this having two of the biggest martyrs in literary history integrated into his name, Christian Holden. Yes, there’s our friend, Christ. The guy died for your sins, the scape goat and water and blood and all that. And Holden Caulfield, he of Catcher in the Rye. So what else is this dude gonna do but emote like hell in front of the squealing public?

I am still absorbing the album, and on my first few listens, it doesn’t quite have the impact of their last, breakout album, Home, Like Noplace Is There, but few albums are as listenable as that one, even after multiple spins. Continue reading

Neighbors

NeighborsRating (out of 5): **½

There are a lot of dicks in this movie. Like a TON of dicks. Big dicks. Little dicks. Short dicks. Long dicks. Dick, dicks, dicks, dicks, dicks, dicks, dicks. There’s also a really cute baby. But mostly a bunch of dicks.

Besides all the genitals, there is also a movie under there somewhere. If you’ve seen the previews or the unending commercials, you pretty much know exactly what the plot is. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are a young couple with a new baby. They’ve chucked their old life of partying and screwing in weird places for a house in the suburbs. And there comes the frat house. And they move in right next door. Talk about awkward situations! Continue reading

Bleeding Edge

Bleeding EdgeI thought I was making a smart decision trying to read this book. After all, I’d given up on the more esoteric Pynchon in favor of his more accessible works like this one. It turns out even his accessible shit isn’t accessible to me. I spent more time thinking about everything but this book while reading it than I did even caring about the offbeat characters, completely scattered plotlines and seriously annoying affectations that Pynchon is apparently allowed to get away with because he’s Pynchon. I mean the man continuously spells the word “says” as “sez.” And not for any other reason than I think he wanted to annoy the crap out of me.

I liken his writing and its free-form way it just kind of loops in characters and then drops them and brings others in with no context as if you’ve met them to awful jam band music. When, at heart, I’m a pop structure guy. It’s not as if I’m a mainstream popster, mind you. I don’t want a John Grisham novel or whatever the equivalent is in 2015, but some Continue reading

2014 Albums of the Year

Looking back, 2013 was a weak-ass year for me for music. I couldn’t even come up with more than eight albums to stick on my year-end list. This year — a much stronger entry, in my opinion — I have not ten, but eleven, entries! Now keep in mind that my canvas is pretty damn small, so I probably haven’t considered some of those avant-garde albums you’re sitting there rocking. You know, the German EDM weirdos, or the pseudo-lounge guy from Bed-Stuy or the instrumental doom metal band from Sweden, or whatever. But this is my list in no particular order. Not the best, necessarily. Just the stuff I like the best:

Continue reading

Ofrenda

OfrendaMs. Hipster is obsessed with the Day of the Dead. She loves the calavera, which is that Mexican sugar skull thing that you see all over the place around Halloween time, and is part of Ofrenda’s logo. Ofrenda, in fact, is Spanish for “offering.” The kind of offering one leaves in those crazy Day of the Dead, roadside-crash-memorial-looking amalgams. Luckily this joint doesn’t leave a bunch of beads and tchotchkes on your table as a matter of course, but rather serves up some sweet-ass homemade guac and chips and upscale Mexican grub that has become all de rigueur in NYC. I’m still reticent to pay over ten bucks for anything Mexican because of where and when I grew up, but I’m coming to terms with this whole gourmet taco Continue reading

Shellac: Dude Incredible

Dude IncredibleI’m a fan of Steve Albini. I’ve written [not-so] extensively about my love of his engineering prowess — most specifically about how awesome he makes drums sound. Most producers these days (and most days) make drums sound like mushy peas. Not my Steve. That is very much on display on this excellent-sounding album. In fact the rhythm section as a whole — that being the drums and bass — are pretty intensely great-sounding throughout the album. Not surprising considering two-thirds of the band is made up of sound engineers. The drums are pounding; the bass is brutish and manly in a thick, rebellious kind of way. The whole album is akin to a Neanderthal playing math rock. Time signatures are all over the place, lines repeat and repeat and repeat, but instead of being spidery and technical sounding, they hit you over the head with a sledgehammer, just banging away in an almost primordial manner. It makes one almost wish that they employed a real Continue reading

Dads: I’ll Be the Tornado

I'll Be the TornadoSomething about Jersey inspires emotion. Very seldom do you get bands from The Jerz that don’t either tug at those emo heartstrings — like the original screamo act, Thursday — or hit you with that sunny nostalgia, like Yo La Tengo. I mean if you really break it down, the original NJ rocker himself, B. Springsteen, trades in nothing more than emotional nostalgia. So here are the oddly and mysteriously named Paramus band, Dads, neither of whom are, apparently, dads. They hit that emo thing often and they hit it hard. Sometimes, like even the best emo, it’s a little too on the nose with its lyrical whining, but they do a great approximated mash up of early Built to Spill, bands like CaP’n Jazz and American Football (neither of which I love, honestly) and a small nod to their more modern compatriots like Japandroids and Patrick Stickles’ pained whelp. They really do a great job of mixing things up, swinging from one indie rock touchstone to another Continue reading

Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 2

Run the Jewels 2I have a love/hate relationship with modern rap. Mostly hate. With the whole mixtape thing, it feels like the market has been saturated with a bunch of assholes who have a laptop and absolutely nothing to say. How do I know you slang and shoot? You could be a kid in your basement in Sudbury, MA. Yo, man, yelling at your mom to get you a Dr. Pepper don’t make you hard. Nor do I really give a shit. There’s just too little of substance and dick this, gun that, molly and whatnot. And now I sound like my parents. But, seriously, rap kinda sucks in 2014. So along comes two Gen X dudes, who by all whatever should be completely irrelevant and run out of town as O.G. suckas — if these swag shitheads even know what that is. Instead, older white dudes like me appreciate them for trying to do something more than repeating the same thing 27 times in a song and calling it music. El-P, being an old white dude himself, has an appreciation Continue reading

The Rural Alberta Advantage: Mended With Gold

Mended With GoldThese guys hold a special place in my heart. I absolutely adored their first two albums. Some have called them the poor man’s Neutral Milk Hotel, but I call them the Canadian Rush! Oh, wait… But they really do have a sound that is affecting in a way few other bands are. The have this far-away, harsh landscape thing that somehow marries itself with an almost dustbowl-era creakiness with subtle organs, strummed acoustics and spindly, animalistic drumming. Or at least they used to. This album feels more fleshed-out and “produced” than their last effort. The drumming, rather than all snare and cymbals (but awesome ones) employs a deeper, richer tom and floor tom thing, and the vocal accompaniment is richer than ever before. In other words, it doesn’t sound like it was produced in an isolated barn in the middle of a glacier — but perhaps it was. There’s also less of a rustic, backwoods sound to the record; less instruments that sound like wood Continue reading

Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten

LoreleyIt’s always a bummer not getting the true flavor of a place because you’re stuck partying in the basement. In this case, I’m being extremely literal (in the old-fashioned, literal sense of the word), as I didn’t get the flavor of the German food or the outside space because I was standing in front of a large speaker with an even larger stein of beer in a dark, underground space with a bunch of old co-workers, 99% of whom no longer worked for the company whose heyday was sometime back in the 2001-ish timeframe. And all I wanted was one of them beef brat things with the German potato salad and maybe a pretzel or some shit. But here I was struggling to drink down some sort of Hofbrau Summer swill that was in a way-too-big mug that just wasn’t Continue reading

Iona

IonaMy grandfather (b. 1910), who lived a good chunk of his adolescent and adult life in Williamsburg, would be thoroughly confused by this place. “Mr. Hipster,” he would say, “why in the hell would anyone want to sit outside in Brooklyn?” He was a smart man — an accountant by trade — but being open-minded about his old ‘hood, after moving to Long Island and then Florida, wasn’t one of his strong suits. Perhaps he thought there was disease, pestilence and those horse-drawn carts that delivered ice still infecting the borough’s streets. But ol’ grandpa (R.I.P.) might even be down with this chill spot. Though the IonaGerman food on the grill in the beer garden out Continue reading

Melancholia

MelancholiaRating (out of 5): ****

I’ve somehow gone my entire life without seeing a Lars von Trier film. And, honestly, I felt as though I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing one. His shit sounded pretentious and super-Euro and just plain boring. Like Jim Jarmusch, but more into Nazis. But then Ms. Hipster came to me after seeing Melancholia and practically begged me to watch it so she could talk to someone about it. You know, shared snobbish misery. The funny thing is, Ms. Hipster generally hates highfalutin movies. She deems them “talky-talky” and usually walks out when I’m watching them to go look through Land of Nod catalogs. I tried to play her a Whit Stillman movie at some point in the 90s and she stopped talking to me for a week. Aaron Sorkin makes her want to stomp puppies. Point being, if she found this Lars von Trier guy tolerable, even in his pretention, then perhaps he wasn’t as over the top as I had assumed.And then I was forced to sit through what felt Continue reading

The Flamethrowers

The FlamethrowersI don’t belong to a book club. Shocking, I know. But I do listen to a bunch of podcasts, among them one that occasionally suggests books and turns it into a book club-ish kind of thing. So, like the sheep that I am, I went out and bought this one so that I could sit and listen to a one-sided conversation about it after I finished. After all, why should Ms. Hipster have all the fun? Granted, I didn’t get any appetizers and wine like she gets, but at least I knew I could listen to a couple guys who are way smarter than I talk about literature in a smart way.

With that in mind, I can’t say the premise of this novel was particularly interesting to me. Set in 1975, when I was a wee lad, it follows this woman, Reno, and her pursuit of an odd mixture of motorcycle art and fucking European guys. I guess the former is her “job” and the second just a hobby. But, as it turns out, both are intrinsically intertwined. Continue reading

Odd Finds: World’s Worst Cookie

There are two simple things we ask of our food. Be nice looking and be nice tasting. Now, in many instances I can think of I’ve had beautiful food that wasn’t all that tasty. Less often, but still somewhat acceptable, is ugly looking food that tastes damn good. The first instance usually happens with fancy deserts. The second with Mexican food. And then there are times when the food in question is both ugly and too nasty for words. Even something as innocuous and supposedly joyful as a cookie. And so I introduce you to the world’s worst cookie. Hell, the world’s most disappointing all around bastardization of a childhood snack. Look upon it if you will:

World's Worst Cookie

What appears to be a St. Patrick’s Day died cookie is in fact made of the hippy’s favorite living organism, spirulina. I’ve never tasted spirulina, but I imagine it tastes like the underside of Sigmund the Seamonster’s fish balls. And that topping? I know it looks like a lovely marinara (which would be disgusting in and of itself), but it is in fact gojiberry. I think that shit is just plain made up. The fact this thing could probably crawl on its own is reason enough not to eat it, but the thought of putting something purporting to be a cookie into my mouth that looks like a tomato sauce covered pile of seaweed is enough to bring bile flowing. We couldn’t even get one of the hardcore vegans in our office to taste it! And they’ll eat anything that isn’t nailed down and never had sense enough to try to escape slaughter.

If for some reason you want to play a trick on someone or make somone eat something on a dare, you too can order one of these things from the stinky hacky sack crew at Alive and Radiant Foods.

Sigmund the Seamonster

Odd Finds: Bad Moon Unicorn

So this innocuous pink unicorn, along with a bunch of other stuff, arrived at our house courtesy of Grandma Hipster and her job at the Cancer Society thrift store in LA. It went on Hipster Jr. Jr.’s shelf for several months, its secret agenda never revealed.

Until one day someone decided to push the button on the side of the thing, unleashing what has to be the weirdest song ever to be associated with what purports to be a child’s toy, “Bad Moon Rising.” To remind you, there are the lyrics (in the abbreviated form sung by the unicorn):

I see the bad moon arising
I see trouble on the way.
Don’t go around tonight
Well, it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

Er, that seems appropriate for a child. And completely consistent with a pink unicorn. But even weirder than the fact a child’s pink unicorn is singing a Creedance song about the apocalypse is the awkward Chinese pronunciation (the toy was manufactured in China) and the almost direct rip of the ‘Macarena’ tune. Watch the video and notice the last little death spasm as the unicorn realizes even it’s embarrassed about the whole affair.

Odd Finds: The Prophetic Phyisician

bishop shammah womack-el

This guy is totally my favorite snake oil salesman of all time. He is a self-described prophetic physician. Where does one go to study prophetic medicine? Canada? His bio claims that “Dr.” Shammah Womack-El is a world class Naturopathic Holistic Scientist and Master Herbalist of Drugless Medicine, which he calls God’s Natural Pharmacy. But… What?

This is not his only thing, though. He is also:

For some reason that I can’t quite explain, the guy reminds me of the movie Coming to America, and two of its great characters:

    +    

           =

Pious Man

Pensive Man

The “Man”

Odd Finds: World’s Lamest Toy

So we were at the ghetto-ass toy store near our house, and we ran across these awful dolls. I had a hard time believing they were real. It seems like some cosmic joke being played on us by some bizarro right-wing Christian freakshow. I think the idea is to show different kinds of teens from around America in the form of some awful sterotype that doesn’t actually exist on this planet. Presumably some redneck kid from Iowa (like the Daniel doll below) can pick up a Travis doll and know what a rich kid looks like. I guess.

So from the best I can tell, we have the following:

Goth Party Girl?
Illiterate Punk A-hole
Preppy Douche
Hick Farmer

Wannabe Drug Dealer
Snobby Bimbo
Uh…
Contradictory Bullshit

I’m truly trying to figure out who these things are supposed to be for. Imagine if you came home with an Anothony doll for your kid. “Yeah, dad, I wanna be like Tony! He’s so excited to get out of high school and, and, and do, well, do something. He’s got really big hair!”

Odd Finds: World’s Ugliest Lamp

There’s really not a whole lot to say here. This has to be the world’s ugliest lamp–bar none. One wonders what the hell was going through this “artisan’s” head when he actually spent time crafting this calamity. Couldn’t his day have been better spent, I don’t know, shooting rubber bands at the sun? I blame it on the brown acid.

ugly lamp
Stolen straight from the living room of the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland

Odd Finds: Anti-Terror Trash Cans

Who are these for? Seriously. Since when are the world’s trash bins its biggest liability? Is a terrorist really going to take the time to sneak into your company’s office to throw a pipe bomb or block of c4 into your wastepaper basket? Having it armor plated is hardly a foolproof plan. If this was really the ingenious plot of the evildoers, couldn’t they just as easily stick it in your desk drawer, behind a book on a bookshelf, or just tape it to the bottom of your chair? It seems to me that the odds of someone sticking an incendiary device into a suspiciously thick-looking garbage receptacle are somewhere between zero and never.

Despite this, Ms. Hipster received this educational mailer at her workplace:


“These are the trash cans terrorists hate most!”


So, let this be a warning to you budding terrorists and corporate espionagists out there: Centerpoint Manufacturing ain’t gonna fall for that old pipe bomb in the trash can trick! And, for that matter, neither is their partner in useless-products-to-part-paranoid-Americans-from-their-money, BlastGard International. Let’s just hope their armor plating is better then their spelling.

Odd Finds: Dead Guy Frame

And now for the ultimate example of shameful tastelessness…

dead guy frame

“When someone you
Love becomes a
Memory, the
Memory becomes a
Treasure”

Nothing like terrible poetry, coupled with a photo of the recently deceased, to garbage up your home. Sucks that poor grandpa has to spend the rest of his days trapped inside a cheap frame staring out at the world from his awful, oval matting. What the hell did he do to deserve this kind of disrespect?

dead guy